Friday, September 09, 2011


An interesting critique of NGOs.
"The focus of the big international NGOs (BINGOs) has been frequently directed to economic development activities that are occurring in the newly industrialising countries, commonly in Asia. But the well documented origin of many of the world’s major environmental problems is from the already developed countries in Europe and North America. For example, BINGOs have relentlessly attacked the palm oil industry in Asia. Greenpeace mounted a vigorous campaign against Nestle for using Indonesian palm oil, which resulted in Nestle dropping the use of the product and replacing it with alternative oil suppliers from developed nations. There is ample peer-reviewed research that is supportive of the palm oil industry in Indonesia. The market benefit is shifted from Indonesia to a rich nation. After the Asian financial crisis a decade ago, the new Indonesian democratic government was encouraged by the World Bank and IMF to develop a palm oil industry because it is a large employer. Rural employment was critical to Indonesia then, and remains so today. The population of Indonesia is approaching 240 million people with about 100 million of them living on less than US$2 per day. By 2050, the population is expected to grow to 300 million. The country can expect to lose as much as 20% of its land mass with predicted rising sea levels in the coming decades. The problem is that Indonesia is very good at growing palm oil, effectively shifting the economics of the world edible oil market. Palm oil is an incredibly productive crop, yielding substantially more oil per hectare than other oil-seed plants. Palm oil also has the advantage of being a long-term plant – a palm oil tree will produce seeds for almost 70 years. The long-term carbon sequestration opportunity of palm oil is well documented, compared to the negative carbon characteristics of other oil crops such as soya, corn or canola, which need to be stripped back to bare earth each harvest cycle. These crops are grown mostly in Western or developed nations. Recent research describes these crops as environmenally unsustainable. The demise of the palm oil industry in Asia is a human tragedy supported by Western-dominated BINGOs. Unless palm oil is being sourced from places like Indonesia, more land in Europe and North America will be cleared for soya, corn and or canola fields that are harvested using massive equipment employing very few people. If BINGOs were serious about sustainability and communities they would be looking to help develop a sustainable palm oil industry, not maintain poverty."

From here by Phillip Lawrence

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