In response to the commitment to deforestation-free palm oil announced by businesses today at the 2014 UN Climate Summit, David McLaughlin, WWF-US vice president of agriculture, issued the following statement:
“The environmental issues associated with oil palm development are well known and of global concern. The commitment we’ve seen today from the leading palm oil companies is welcome, significant, and potentially transformative. This should be a model for other palm oil producers and traders, and for other sectors experiencing forest loss due to uncontrolled agricultural expansion.
“The implementation of these commitments is a monumental task, and it is going to require the support of other producers, environmental stewardship organizations, traders, customers, governments, and local communities if it is to be successful. Transparency and engagement around suppliers is critical, and must be aggressively pursued and openly reported.
“In the past, limited governance and an absence of enforcement allowed illegal development to flourish, resulting in some of the fastest rates of tropical deforestation on the planet. As the Indonesian Minister of Forestry recently announced, there are two million hectares of illegal palm oil plantings in the Riau Province alone, and WWF’s own field teams are reporting the encroachment of National Parks and Protected Areas.
“It is essential now for the government to meet the opportunity presented by these new and deeper company commitments with the governance and enforcement to give them traction. Some regions in Indonesia are already beginning to meet this demand for legal development and production, and we hope and expect to see legality move from the exception to the norm.”