“Palm oil is part of our poverty-reduction strategy. It directly contributes to employment and promotes economic growth in rural areas, enabling poor communities to access health and education.” This statement by Bagas Hapsoro, Ambassador of Indonesia to Sweden, at an event about agroforestry and sustainability in Stockholm last month, left environmentalists in the room puzzled and muttering.
What about the rampant tropical deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations, and the enormous climate impact? What about the forest burning that shrouds large parts of Southeast Asia in a lethal haze? What about the indigenous people forced from their homes and the wildlife lost?