Five years after the Marrakesh Declaration for sustainable development of the palm oil sector in Africa, on the 27th of September 2022, the Tropical Forest Alliance Africa Palm Oil Initiative Sierra Leone (APOI SL) Platform led a delegation comprising Abraham Baffoe, Africa Director of Proforest – a UK based international organisation; Dr Sheku Kamara, Executive Director of Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL); Madam Kate Karemo-Garnett, Director of Forestry and Edward Sesay, Programme Manager of CSSL, to engage The Minister of Environment, Hon. Proff. Foday M. Jaward, regarding the transition from a single commodity – Palm Oil, to a Multi-Commodity Initiative including Cocoa, Coffee, Cashew, rubber etc, and the signing of the Africa Sustainable Commodities Initiative (ASCI) Declaration at COP 27, alongside 9 other countries – Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Central Africa Republican, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Edo State (Nigeria) and Republic of Congo. All of which account for 75% of Africa’s forests.
APOI SL has been working towards transitioning the palm oil sector in Sierra Leone to a driver of low carbon, sustainable development in the country. It has a vision for a prosperous palm oil industry which brings jobs and wealth to local communities but one which is environmentally and socially sustainable, and protects the rich tropical forests of the region.
In Sierra Leone, after becoming a signatory to the Marrakesh Declaration on the 16th November 2016 at the UNFCCC COP22 in Marrakesh, the country’s APOI team was formed into a national platform. The platform has 18 member institutions and organisations which includes Government, Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations, with whom it had developed national principles and national action plans to guide the country programme operations.
The Africa Sustainable Commodity Initiative (ASCI) builds and expands upon the principles agreed at CoP22 in 2016 for the palm oil sector, which was signed by seven African governments including Sierra Leone. The ‘Marrakesh Declaration for Sustainable Development of the Palm Oil Sector’ acknowledged the role of agricultural commodity development as a driver of deforestation, while emphasising the critical role of forests and forest conservation in addressing climate change.
The ASCI is a single set of principles for the responsible production of agricultural commodities in Africa; protecting forests, good governance, and transparency, while ensuring social benefits for farmers, communities, marginalised peoples and their human rights.
The high level engagement with the Minister of Environment, a new ministry created by the President H.E. Dr Julius Maada Bio, formed the penultimate leg of the Road Map to COP 27 in Egypt, to take place early November 2022.