Papua New Guinea: Sustainable Palm Oil
With over 850 different languages being spoken domestically, Papua New Guinea is surely a country rich in its ethnic diversity. Besides, it is also a country with more of Asia Pacific’s remaining rainforests than anywhere else.
Given the vast number of Papua New Guineans residing in 36.5 million hectares of untapped rainforests throughout the nation, these natural resources also play a critical role in the livelihood of its denizens. 87% of the nation’s 9 million citizens rely on these spaces as habitat, food, and way of life.
Not to mention its cultural and social values, the rainforests of Papua New Guinea also play a direct role in supporting the livelihoods of rural communities. With more than 500 species of wild plants being consumed as food, the value of bush meat found in these areas is also estimated to be $26 million if alternative meats had to be sourced.
These wild places are also relied upon for palm oil, the largest produced agricultural commodity in the country. In 2017, palm oil production contributed to $344 million of the country’s total export earnings, providing employment to upwards of 200,000 Papua New Guineans.
Being widely recognised for the fact that 95% of the country’s palm oil is rated as sustainable, Papua New Guinea is a global leader in premium palm oil produce, but the recent introduction of the palm oil and logging industries have begun to put a serious strain on the once evergreen landscapes of the country.
Recognizing the need to address the challenge of keeping up with environmental conservation along with agricultural productivity, the UNDP Green Commodities Programme and the Government of the Papua New Guinea have started to work together. Funded by the UN REDD+ project and led by the Papuan Department of Agriculture and Livestock, the Papua New Guinea Palm Oil Platform (PNG POP) was launched in 2018 with strong commitment from the national government.
The main premise of PNG POP is to provide a space for dialogue, where businesses, government and civil society can come together to openly discuss challenges regarding sustainable palm oil production. This platform is designed in a way that these stakeholders may be able to develop a common vision and agenda, and ultimately implement them into a National Action Plan.
Sustainable palm oil production holds the potential to boost many of Papua New Guinea’s development goals. Not only does sustainable palm oil guarantee the conservation of the nation’s vital forest resources, it will also create numerous employment opportunities for PNG’s growing population. Above all, sustainable secure valuable international markets.