Sustainable palm oil?
1 – Definition of "Sustainability"
By the World Commission on Environment and Development "sustainability" was defined as follows: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and to choose their own lifestyle."
The concept of sustainability has several levels: social, economic and environmental. Together these give an ethical principle of action. For a more in-depth study of the topic, we recommend the very informative web portal www.nachhaltigkeit.info (in German).
2 – Palm oil produced under sustainability criteria – does it exist?
Industry and trade argue that there is sustainable palm oil in large quantities. Our experience unfortunately proves the opposite.
As long as rainforests are systematically cleared for palm oil plantations and human rights are violated, there can be no talk of 'sustainability'. Industry and commerce rely on certification systems such as the RSPO (Round table on Sustainable Palm Oil); however, these certification systems are inadequate and are no guarantee for sustainability.
There may be small sustainable plantations, which do not produce at the expense of people and the environment. These enterprises, however, work for local consumption and only contribute very small amounts of the world's production of palm oil.
3 – The argument "Palm oil is more sustainable than other fats"
Proponents of the RSPO and the current management of palm oil argue: The oil palm is extremely efficient and therefore "more sustainable" than other oilseeds. If you want to achieve the same production results, which can be generated per hectare of oil palm trees, e.g. with sunflower or rapeseed oil, you would have to cultivate considerably more land. Therefore, the argument goes, palm oil is the lesser evil.
We do not accept this argument. Even the "lesser evil" cannot be tolerated. We should strive to find ways to operate more efficiently and at the same time to reduce the need for palm oil. In this way, no more rain forests would have to be destroyed.