Many of our food products contain palm oil and soy in one form or another. To meet the growing demand, they are being cultivated on an increasingly large scale. This has unfortunately been the cause of many problems. Deforestation, environmental pollution and ‘land-grabbing’ are rampant in South-East Asia and South America. Of course, these paractices should stop. But what are the most sustainable, ethical, and – above all – feasible ways to achieve this? And how do you get all parties to cooperate? To explore the answers to these questions, the Ecosystem Alliance (Both ENDS, IUCN NL and Wetlands International) is organising a conference on October 30.
Last week Both ENDS’ deputy director, Paul Wolvekamp, was elected board member of the RSPO, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Until November, when new elections will take place. “I hope that after the next elections my place will be taken by a social NGO from the South, because that group is not represented well enough in the RSPO.” Therefore Paul, within the RSPO, aims for a stronger voice of NGO’s, plantation workers and small-scale palm oil producers in the South.
Altough you might not notice right away, a bitter scent sticks to most flower bouquets. The cultivation of flowers mostly happens in developing countries where it is often associated with poor working conditions, excessive water consumption and pollution. Both ENDS is therefore very pleased about the announced cooperation between sustainability label Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) and the Milieu Programma Sierteelt (MPS) foundation. Because of this cooperation, consumers will be able to consciously choose for a fair, well-scented bouquet of flowers at an ever growing number of retailers.
The Netherlands follow the United Kingdom and became the second country where 'good gold' is being sold. On May 7th the official launch of 'Fairtrade-Fairmined gold' took place in Amsterdam. Highlight was the handover of the first golden bracelet with this certificate to Katja Römer-Schuurman by a Peruvian miner. The bracelet is symbolic for good gold and will be worn with pride by Römer-Schuurman. "The circle is now complete", says Lina Villa, director of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), who was involved in the project since the beginning.
"We are open about prices to farmers. We have nothing to be ashamed of," says Patrick Barthelemy, founder of Cassia Co-op. By removing middlemen from the supply chain, the Dutch-Indonesian company is able to pay more to small-scale cinnamon farmers in Kerinci, Sumatra. With the help of the Communities for Change Alliance between Cordaid and Both ENDS, Cassia Co-op promotes sustainable agriculture and self-organisation of farmers.
Over the past 15 years the production of palm oil has increased enormously, and not without reason: palm oil, pressed from the fruit of the oil palm, is cheap and is used in many different products. It is processed in ice cream, chocolate, margarine and sauces, but also in personal care products and cosmetics such as lipstick, detergent, toothpaste, soap and biofuel. Unfortunately, the large demand for palm oil has quite some negative side effects: large-scale deforestation, pollution, 'land grabbing' and above all human rights violations are common practice in countries where palm oil is produced.
The Netherlands does not reach target for responsible soy
The Dutch Soy Coalition (consisting of eight development and environmental organisations*) finds that in 2013 only a quarter of the 2.4 million tons of soy used in the Netherlands is responsibly produced. The social or environmental impacts of the production of the other three quarters of Dutch soy imports are not at all clear or accounted for. The target set by the Netherlands is to purchase 100 percent responsible soy by 2015. This will be almost impossible to achieve at this point.