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EditTitle:Sustainable Palm Oil
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EditImage Description:Azman harvests oil palm fruit near Pasoh Forest Reserve. © Benjamin Drummond
EditPhoto Credit:© Benjamin Drummond
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Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. You’ve probably used it a dozen times today without even realizing it.


It's found in half the ​products on supermarket shelves. It’s in your sandwich, chips and cookies. You used it to brush your teeth. You even fed it to your dog​.

It’s extremely versatile and incredibly efficient – oil palm trees produce up to 10 times more oil per hectare than any other crop. That’s good. ​So it’s no surprise that global demand for palm oil has more than doubled in the last 10 years. But while this exceptional growth has provided work for millions of producers, it has also posed unprecedented threats to local people and wildlife, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia, where 85% of the world’s oil palm is grown. Deforestation, draining and planting palm on peat lands, land disputes with rural communities — all of these have been major consequences of the global palm oil boom​.​


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EditSection title:Our plan
EditSection subtitle:CI recognizes that palm oil itself is not the enemy and that there can be upsides to its production. So we’re working urgently to minimize the downsides and reduce negative impacts on people and nature.
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    Edit Item Title:Growing supply
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    Edit Item Text:We help growers implement more sustainable production practices that improve productivity and conserve critical forest areas. We support smallholder producers with training and resources to increase yields and improve livelihoods.
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    Edit Item Title:Engaging consumers
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    Edit Item Text:We ask that consumers like you join us. Learn more about palm oil. Tell the companies whose products you buy to commit to more sustainable palm oil sourcing. Let them know it’s important to you. And look for the RSPO trademark on the products you buy.
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    Edit Item Title:Promoting demand
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    Edit Item Text:We ask consumer goods companies and retailers to use 100% certified sustainable palm oil that meets and exceeds the standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). And we ask that they follow a pathway of continuous improvement that leads from sustainability certificates, to physical sources, to a fully segregated supply chain that allows them to trace their palm oil back to sustainably managed sources.

    We support companies as they implement these commitments, and have developed guidance materials to facilitate the transition to more sustainable sources and address existing supply chain and market barriers.
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    Edit Item Title:Strengthening policy
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    Edit Item Text:We ask governments to ensure that their policy and financial incentives support more sustainable palm oil production and do not directly or indirectly contribute to deforestation or social conflict. We provide scientific advice to inform natural resource planning and decision-making.
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    EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_56586355.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Oil palm plantations in northeastern Borneo, state of Sabah, Malaysia.
    EditTitle:By the numbers
    EditSubtitle:55 million metric tons of palm oil
    EditText:More than 55 million metric tons of palm oil are produced globally on 16 million hectares of land, with projected growth of 5% per year until 2020.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Vaara
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      EditSection Title:The consequences of unsustainable production
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        EditImage URL: /SiteCollectionImages/ci_84641881.jpg
        EditImage Description: A young orangutan wandering in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. © Will Turner
        EditText: The exponential growth of palm oil poses unprecedented threats to forests, wildlife and people in the areas where it is grown and harvested. Across southeast Asia, and increasingly in Africa and Latin America, tropical forests are being converted to oil palm plantations. And peatlands — wetlands with carbon-rich soils — are being drained for cultivation. This results in the significant emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, as well as threatening the last remaining habitats for endangered species like the orangutan and Sumatran tiger. And the basic rights of people and communities are increasingly at risk due to land disputes between palm producers and indigenous communities.
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        EditPhoto Credit:© Will Turner
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          EditSection Title:The invisible ingredient
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            EditImage URL: /SiteCollectionImages/ci_63326268.jpg
            EditImage Description: Palm oil fruit. © Benjamin Drummond / Sara Joy Steele
            EditText: If palm oil is found in half of all products on supermarket shelves, how is it considered an invisible ingredient? Palm oil is often listed using many different ingredient names you probably don’t recognize when you look at product labels. These could include: Palm oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm stearine, Palmolein, Palmitate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and many others. It can even be listed simply as “Vegetable oil.” If your favorite product contains palm oil, contact the manufacturer and ask them to use certified sustainable palm oil. If the manufacturer already uses sustainable palm oil, ask them to add the logo to product packaging. Adding a sustainable logo helps consumers make the best choice to protect the environment.
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            EditPhoto Credit:© Benjamin Drummond / Sara Joy Steele
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            Edit Title: Featured Publications
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                EditSection title:Contact
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                  John Buchanan
                  Senior Director, Sustainable Food & Agriculture Markets
                  jbuchanan@conservation.org
                  703.341.2539

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                  Melissa Thomas
                  Senior Manager, Sustainable Food & Agriculture Markets
                  mthomas@conservation.org
                  703.341.2631

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                  More of Our Work Links

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                  First Image

                  EditTitle:Climate
                  EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_30785027.jpg
                  EditLink:/what/Pages/Climate.aspx
                  EditImage Alt Text:Night falls over Rio de Janeiro. © Nikada

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                  EditTitle:Science and Innovation
                  EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_80568511.tif
                  EditLink:/how/pages/science-and-innovation.aspx
                  EditImage Alt Text:Scientists set a camera trap. © Benjamin Drummond

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                  EditTitle:The Ocean
                  EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_16084886.jpg
                  EditLink:/what/Pages/oceans.aspx
                  EditImage Alt Text:Coral reef in Viti Levu, Fiji, Oceania. © William Crosse