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World Bank Group Seeks Latin American Stakeholder Input for Palm Oil Strategy


In Washington, DC:
Irina Likhachova
Tel: 202 473-1813
E-mail: ilikhachova@ifc.org

Adriana Gomez
Tel: 202 458 5204
E-mail: agomez@ifc.org


Washington D.C., May 27, 2010—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the World Bank held consultations with a wide range of stakeholders in San Jose, Costa Rica, on May 17-18, 2010, as part of a broad global consultative process to develop its Palm Oil Strategy. Fifty four people participated in the consultations, representing civil society organizations, private companies, financial institutions, industry associations, smallholder producers, government, and research institutions.

Attendees were from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru. Jointly these countries produce 95 percent of Latin America’s palm oil, which represents 5 percent of global supply.   Palm oil production in Latin America has doubled to just over 2mm tons over the last ten years, led by Colombia as the 5th largest world producer.

“IFC and the World Bank are seeking input from a diverse group of stakeholders around the world to inform the new global strategy that we are developing to guide our future engagement in the palm oil sector,” said Vipul Prakash, Senior Manager of IFC’s Global Agribusiness Department. “This consultative process is providing us with essential input in identifying the key issues affecting the palm oil sector and in defining a range of possible interventions for the World Bank Group to be able to support economic and rural development while protecting forest and biodiversity assets.”  

The participants discussed the potential of the palm oil industry in Latin America and the associated economic, social, and environmental implications.  Increasing yields and productivity were seen as key to the industry’s future. The discussion focused on the need to support smallholder producers through increased access to finance, technology transfer, and developing transparent pricing mechanisms.

Participants indicated that there was considerable scope for growth given the availability of degraded lands but that future expansion of the industry should be carefully managed to avoid potential threats to tropical forests and associated biodiversity loss. They also highlighted the need for improved effluent treatment and other pollution control measures to reduce pesticide run off and enhance watershed management.

Participants pointed out the differences between Latin America and other regions in producing palm oil, and emphasized the need to homogenize certification standards and to provide technical and financial assistance for companies to achieve them over time. They saw a potential role for the World Bank Group in partnering with other stakeholders to strengthen the sector’s environmental and social sustainability.  

The consultations are a part of a global outreach by the Word Bank Group to seek input into developing its global strategy of future engagement in the palm oil sector. Until this strategy is in place, the World Bank Group is refraining from supporting new projects in the sector. Consultations with multiple stakeholders have been held in Washington, D.C., and in Medan, Pontianak, and Jakarta in Indonesia. Further consultations are being planned in Accra, Ghana and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. For further information about the World Bank Group multistakeholder palm oil strategy development process, please visit:
www.ifc.org/palmoilstrategy.

About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit
www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.