Palm oil can be found in a wide range of products from makeup, to pet food, to candy. The rising concern with this widely used ingredient is that its current production methods often wreak havoc on the areas where producers harvest the plants. This giant industry, which touches over half of all consumer items, needs to pivot quickly so environmental damage can be mitigated.
Two organization have recently come together to help combat the issue of unsustainable palm oil. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the 72nd WAZA Annual Conference in Berlin. The two organizations plan to team up to educate consumers about only choosing sustainable palm oil, which would significantly help reduce stress on the environment. Both groups have a vested interest in helping people learn about the impact of palm oil production.
RSPO is an association that brings together people in the palm oil industry to create global standards for sustainable production. The organization formed in 2014 due to the pressing need to tackle the issue of unsustainable palm oil products. As a “roundtable” the group endeavors to give an equal voice to everyone in the palm oil industry so they may find common ground. The RSPO created environmental criteria which identify sustainable palm oil as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
Currently, there are more than 3,000 RSPO members who are involved in the production of palm oil. These members have agreed to produce, source, or use palm oil responsibly. The organization’s primary goal is to create worldwide standards where everyone in the palm oil supply chain is working in line with environmentally friendly guidelines.
WAZA was an ideal partner for RSPO because they focus on environmental and wildlife education. As a global alliance, WAZA works with about 300 zoos and aquariums around the world, such as Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, Cango Wildlife Ranch, Houston Zoo, Chiang Mai Zoo, and SeaWorld Orlando. The organization was created in 1935 as the International Union of Directors of Zoological Gardens but changed to its current name in 2000. They promote cooperation for efforts such as conservation and animal welfare.
The MOU agreement brings together these groups to focus on the environmental impact of unsustainable palm oil. WAZA’s role is to promote awareness at it’s affiliated zoos and aquariums. In doing so, it hopes to education some of the estimated 700 million people that visit the parks.
WAZA Chief Executive Officer, Doug Cress looks forward to making a positive change through this partnership, “This agreement with RSPO offers the WAZA community the resources to change consumer behaviour and lead by example. We hope to have more than half of our membership committed to sustainable palm oil by 2023.”
RSPO will focus on increasing use of sustainable palm oil products. Through this joint effort, the groups hope to make sustainable palm oil the norm. Chief Executive Officer of RSPO, Darrel Webber expressed his optimism for the agreement, “RSPO producer members, large and small, will now have an ally to educate consumers and thereafter encourage them to pull the sustainable palm oil supply chain. This will be the incentive for producers to be allies with WAZA members, in conserving important landscapes and wildlife species.” Hopefully, these this partnership will successfully make sustainable palm oil a new standard around the world.