World Bank: No more funding for oil palm plantations!

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In August 2009, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and shortly thereafter the wider World Bank Group (WBG) of which it is part suspended finance for the palm oil sector. This was done in response to critical complaints by Indonesian NGOs and indigenous peoples’ organizations and international NGOs which triggered a damning audit report by the IFC’s own Compliance Advisory Ombudsman.

However, the Bank appears to be determined to continue funding oil palm expansion in Africa, Asia and Latin America and has launched what it defines as “an open and participatory process, engaging a diverse group of stakeholders” for developing a strategy for “future engagement in the palm oil sector”.

As part of that process, the Bank has organized several consultations: Washington (April 23-26), Indonesia (May 3-7), Costa Rica, (May 17-18), Ghana (31 May-1 June) and The Netherlands (3-4 June).

Once this process has been completed, the Bank will “take note” of the diverse views expressed by a wide range of “stakeholders” and will come up with a strategy that will allow it to continue funding the expansion of this very controversial crop.

In response, several social and environmental groups, which have been denouncing the greenwashing of oil palm plantations, launched an action. On May 18th 2010, a letter was sent to the World Bank on behalf of over 80 organizations from more than 34 countries urging the World Bank to stop funding oil palm plantations.

The letter stresses that “The evidence provided by the documented environmental and social harm caused by industrial oil palm plantations, makes it necessary to insist that those plantations are part of a model of large-scale extractivist production aimed at export, which is inherently unsustainable”. As a result, the letter concludes that “What is therefore needed is to stop the expansion of oil palm monocultures” and that “The World Bank must not finance oil palm plantations.”

The letter can be accessed at:
If you wish to express you support to this letter, send an email
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