How India Can Save Indonesia’s Forests by Cutting Palm Oil Use


India imports 15% of global palm oil coming mainly from Indonesia. Palm oil cultivation and expansion is one of the key reasons for depletion of rich forests in South East Asia. If edible oil companies in India can innovate by cutting prices palm oil import can be reduced over a period of time.

Guardian newspaper quoted Stefano Savi, global outreach and engagement director at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO): “As the largest importer of palm oil, India can play a fundamental role in infl uencing a shift towards sustainable production.”

A recent report in the paper noted that unlike the boycotts and consumer awareness in Europe and the
US, interest in sustainably sourced palm oil in India is minimal, putting little pressure on the domestic market to shift to more sustainable sources.

There is no real ‘burning platform’ for companies to decide to move towards certifi cation, especially for products aimed at the internal market. Yet Indian companies have the power to apply pressure on their major suppliers from Indonesia towards sustainability, says Nandikesh Sivalingam, a senior campaigner at Greenpeace India.

Because certified palm oil is priced higher consumers choose cheaper options. India could import 8.4 million
tonnes of palm oil this year.

However, change is apparently on the horizon. “Certain companies have made commitments to sustainable palm oil, in particular fast-moving consumer goods multinationals,” Philip Tapsall, director of sustainable business at WWF India told the paper. “We are starting to see these commitments extend to the Indian market.” Global procurement policies of multinational companies which demand certified sustainable products are “definitely having an impact in driving change locally.”

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