Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the reddish pulp of the fruit of the oil palms. At the moment it is the most widely produced vegetable oil in the world, with its capacity for biodiesel driving the demand up from the traditional use in food production. Indonesia is still by far the largest producer of palm oil, surpassing Malaysia in 2006, but production is expanding rapidly in tropical Africa and Latin America.
Palm oil production has been documented as a cause of substantial and often irreversible damage to the natural environment, including deforestation, loss of habitat of critically endangered species such as the Orang-utan and Sumatran Tiger, and a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Palm oil producers have also frequently been accused of various human-rights violations, from low pay and poor working conditions to theft of land and long standing conflicts with affected local communities.
The Ecosystem Alliance has various lobby and capacity building targets on the issue of palm oil, including active participation in the Round Table Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), highlighting the concern around the destruction of peat lands, supporting on-going efforts for mediation and conflict resolution, organising exchange and learning events for partner organisations and supporting the local stakeholders in their work towards making the production of palm oil more environmentally sustainable and fair for all parties.