I came across this article regarding a policy change in the palm oil industry of Singapore. Although this policy change is a business change and not political it still holds a good amount of weight for environmentalist. The palm oil business Musim Mas announced that the palm oil it purchases hasn’t been harvested in ways that cause deforestation. The company handles about 18% of the worlds palm oil. Their decision came one year after Wilmar International agreed to take a stand on the issue. Since then most major corporations have followed suit and currently 96% of the palm oil industry follows a no-deforestation policy.
Deforestation in Singapore has caused loss of critical Orangutan habitat and has led to massive underground fires. These new policies could restore those habitats. Of course NGOs will be motoring the industry closely to make sure they uphold their promise.
The past couple of weeks we have been talking about exploitation in third world countries and trying to combine local empowerment with environmental protection. After reading the grist article, I wondered what kind of conditions the palm oil workers have in Singapore and if their livelihoods are being exploited similar to Brazil. I found this article that talks about a company called Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) a palm oil developer that works in Singapore. The article is on a man who works for the company with the job of pursuading the local people to let GVL plant il palm on their land. He must negotiate terms with the locals which can be tough. However, the company does give them compensation, builds schools and roads, provides jobs, scholarships and hand pumps for water. They are one of the first companies trying to empower the locals to “take charge of their own development.”
I thought it was interesting to see a different group (besides NGO) using the same tactic of empowerment.