Palm Oil | WWF
© WWF-Malaysia / Mazidi Ghani
Palm oil is the world’s most traded vegetable oil, widely used as a cooking oil and in the manufacturing of many products, from margarine to lipstick, biscuits to candles, chocolate to laundry detergent, and biofuels. But growing it irresponsibly can devastate forests, wildlife, communities and the global climate.
Nature is threatened by unsustainable growth and production

In addition to beef, soy and other land uses, palm oil has been and continues to be a major driver of biodiversity loss.

Palm oil grows best in low lying, wet tropical areas – exactly where rainforests grow naturally.

Clearing for palm oil plantations has led to widespread destruction of rainforests and peatland degradation, most significantly in Indonesia and Malaysia, with new palm oil expansion now threatening forests and other natural habitats such as savannahs in other parts of Asia, Central and South America and Central and West Africa.  

Irresponsible palm oil expansion has caused the loss of habitats of threatened and endangered species including orangutans, elephants and tigers.

Expansion has also often been at the expense of the rights and interests of local communities and indigenous peoples. Conflicts arising from the employment conditions of plantation workers and discrimination against smallholders have also cast shadows on the sector.

The growth of the industry has threatened freshwater ecosystems and caused soil erosion, soil pollution and air pollution. The burning of forests and peatlands to clear and manage land for oil palm plantation releases massive quantities of carbon dioxide, fueling climate change and transboundary haze that has polluted the skies of cities far away from the source.

Yet palm oil is also a very efficient crop and has contributed to rural poverty alleviation in many regions.

Palm oil doesn’t have to be destructive, and in fact has the potential to be a major force for sustainable development.

The solution is to produce it in a responsible way. 

WWF’s vision is a future where all palm oil is produced without causing deforestation, peatland and environmental degradation or harming wildlife, where workers are treated fairly, and communities' rights are respected, and producers including smallholder farmers have access to tools for responsible production and access to benefit from the market for responsible palm oil.

Where palm oil is produced, people, wildlife and habitats should be protected at a landscape level, and negative impacts should not be displaced elsewhere. We aim to encourage increased demand for, and use of, palm oil produced using such practices.


For this massive global shift to happen, everyone needs to do their part.

Companies producing palm oil need to adhere to robust standards for responsible production, companies that trade and use palm oil need to demand that their palm oil suppliers adhere to these standards and credibly trace their palm oil to responsible sources. Governments and financial institutions play crucial roles in creating an environment where illegal and irresponsibly produced palm oil production and consumption is no longer tolerated. Consumers and NGOs need to keep these businesses and government accountable.

WWF’s goals for palm oil are to:

  • Protect: Wildlife and the environment is protected from expansion, and palm oil driven deforestation and natural habitat conversion is halted
  • Produce: Production is sustainable in resilient and biodiverse landscapes, no longer contributes to climate change, and the industry provides sustainable livelihoods, reduces poverty and respects human rights
  • Restore: The industry becomes a driver for wildlife conservation and restoration efforts, ensuring that landscapes with palm oil are healthy and living
What we're doing

WWF works with actors across the supply chain from producers to retailers, with governments of producing and purchasing countries, with financial institutions, and with other NGOs and consumers. We seek to work collaboratively towards the best solutions to make sustainable palm oil mainstream in a way that protects nature, improves livelihoods for the many millions of people that depend on it for their income and to ensure food security for a growing global population. To deliver a sustainable palm oil industry, WWF is working globally to deliver impact across palm oil producing regions in South East Asia, Central and West Africa, and Central and South America through a number of interventions.

NEWS AND UPDATES

OUR PLANET: THE NEED FOR SUSTAINABLE AND DEFORESTATION-FREE PALM OIL


'Our Planet' showcases the impact oil palm has had on orangutans, but it also reveals that there is far more at stake if we fail to change our path. To save our jungles, we need palm oil to be sustainable and deforestation-free.

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EXPOSING THE IMPACTS OF PALM OIL, ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPT AND DAMAGING INDUSTRIES ON EARTH


In depth article on the impacts of palm oil on Sumatra’s environment, people and wildlife, focusing on the heroes of Eyes on the Forest and their valiant and dangerous work to undertake to expose illegal palm oil producers.

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RSPO ADOPTS TOTAL BAN ON DEFORESTATION UNDER SWEEPING NEW STANDARDS


A well-illustrated overview of the palm oil issue featuring diving into efforts to produce sustainable palm oil in Gabon and Sabah, Malaysia.

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WHY PALM OIL BOYCOTTS ARE NOT AS HELPFUL AS THEY SEEM


WWF’s position on why palm oil boycotts don’t work.

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RSPO ADOPTS TOTAL BAN ON DEFORESTATION UNDER SWEEPING NEW STANDARDS


Update on the RSPO membership vote on a revision of the RSPO Principles and Criteria.

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WWF’S POSITION ON THE ADOPTED 2018 RSPO PRINCIPLES AND CRITERIA


WWF welcomes the revised RSPO and Principles and Criteria while outlining areas where improvement is still needed.

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RSPO: IN WITH THE NEW, OUT WITH THE OLD!


WWF Palm Oil Lead Liz Clarke calls on the RSPO to take urgent action to improve its standards.

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INVESTIGATIVE REPORT REVEALS PALM OIL FROM MAJOR TRADERS COMPROMISES DEFORESTATION-FREE COMMITMENTS OF MAJOR GLOBAL BRANDS


WWF Press Release about an Eyes on the Forest report revealing tainted palm oil supply chains that link illegally harvested palm oil from Sumatra Indonesia to major global brands.

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PALM OIL FROM INDONESIA'S SHRINKING FORESTS TAINTS GLOBAL BRANDS: REPORT


News report on Eyes on the Forest report that uncovers tainted palm oil supply chains linked to global brands.

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THE PALM OIL PROBLEM


A multimedia story on the problems of palm oil, focusing on the palm oil industry in Thailand.

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© James Morgan / WWF International
ALLIANCES
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© ames Morgan / WWF-International

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