The International Finance Corporation / World Bank yesterday released a draft framework for engagement in the palm oil sector.
IFC/World Bank last year suspended lending to palm oil sector after a series of complaints against a few large palm oil producers lodged by civil society organisations.
"The World Bank Group recognized the legitimacy of these concerns and in response temporarily suspended any new investments in the palm oil sector," reads the executive summary of the draft framework.
The framework says that "the World Bank Group is aware of the sector’s negative environmental and social impacts, including deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, land use conflicts, and questions over land tenure and human rights."
But the framework also adds that "the palm oil sector has played a significant role in advancing development and accelerating poverty reduction in the many tropical countries in which it grows. It often forms an important basis for national economies, both as a source of jobs, an export and a raw material for local industry."
The draft says that "the World Bank Group’s engagement in the palm oil sector is consistent with its mission to fight poverty without compromising economic, environmental and social sustainability."
"Adoption of this framework, coupled with compliance with environmental and social policies (the IFC’s Performance Standards and the World Bank’s Safeguard Policies), will enable the World Bank Group to play a catalytic role in moving the palm oil sector to a more sustainable footing."
The World Bank Group has defined four key themes that will frame its future engagement in the sector. These are:
• Supporting the development of an enabling policy and regulatory environment
• Mobilizing socially and environmentally sustainable private sector investment
• Encouraging benefit sharing with smallholders and communities
• Supporting sustainability codes of practice.
Here is the link to the draft framework document.