Ghana and nine other African countries that account for about 25 per cent of the world’s tropical forest will sign the expanded declaration of the Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI) at the CoP 27 in Egypt in November.
The signing of the declaration by Ministers from the 10 APOI countries is to show a renewed commitment to creating a prosperous palm oil industry that brings jobs and wealth to local communities through policy implementation actions.
The nine countries are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Gabon, Liberia, Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone.
APOI provides a framework for governments to engage with local communities and the private sector by giving companies the channel to fulfil their commitments to reduce commodity-driven deforestation.
This is done in a way that is environmentally and socially sustainable and protects the rich tropical forests of the region in line with keeping to the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
The APOI countries under the Africa Sustainable Commodities Initiative (ASCI) puts producer countries in Africa at the forefront of defining principles for the sustainable development of cocoa, rubber, palm oil, and coffee.
By so doing forests are protected through good governance and transparency, and ensuring social benefits for farmers, communities, as well as marginalised people and their human rights.
Globally, about 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their jobs and livelihoods, while in many African countries about 50 to 60 per cent of the population work in agriculture.
However, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the rate of deforestation between 2015 and 2020 was 10 million hectares per year, with agricultural commodities such as palm oil, rubber and cocoa being one of the leading drivers.
It is also noted that communities with most population working in agriculture are the most affected by climate change, food insecurity, unemployment and poverty, therefore, the move to sign the new agreement in Egypt.
The signing of the new declaration is, therefore, to ensure that producer countries in Africa at the forefront of defining the principles for the sustainable development of commodities, including cocoa, rubber, palm oil, and coffee.
In the six years of the Africa Palm Oil Initiative implementation, countries have made some progress, with Ghana, for example, bringing multiple commodities under a single regulatory body – the Tree Crops Development Authority.
Similarly, in Liberia, the Government, working through a multi-stakeholder process with APOI and the National Oil Palm Platform of Liberia (NOPPOL), launched a National Oil Palm Strategy, with land rights and local communities at the heart of production, development and forest protection.
Cameroon has also embedded the APOI principles into its National Strategy for the Sustainable Development of the Palm Oil Value Chain (2021 – 2030) elaborated by government, private sector companies, producer associations / cooperatives, and civil society.
Mr Abraham Baffoe, Global and Africa Director, Proforest, who was at CoP 26, where the African ministers agreed the mandate to expand the Marrakesh Declaration to other commodities commended the work done so far.
He said: “Since CoP22 when the Marrakesh Declaration was signed in 2016, we have seen huge progress by every country, demonstrating crucial milestones to achieve the sustainable development of palm oil.”
“We now need to build on this momentum to safeguard the livelihoods of millions of farmers throughout the continent, strengthen the sustainability of our supplies of food from Africa to the rest of the world, and to keep global heating to a maximum of 1.5 degrees through the protection of Africa’s large remaining diverse tropical forests,” he noted.