At the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai‘i in September 2016, IUCN’s Members passed Resolution WCC-2016-Res-061 on “Mitigating the impacts of oil palm expansion and operations on biodiversity” (https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/46478), calling for the establishment of a task force to undertake a situation analysis on oil palm and biodiversity conservation in the context of sustainable development, and communicate the results through promotion of inclusive decision-making processes and technical inputs into appropriate land-use planning for oil palm.
Meanwhile, progress towards sustainable development has been gaining momentum, with international commitments from governments to stemming the loss of biodiversity through the adoption of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and, more broadly, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Environmental Facility and IUCN are contributing towards this momentum through the establishment of the Global Commons initiative, to place the maintenance of the global environment at the heart of national decision-making. The initiative was launched with events at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai‘i and at the US National Academy of Sciences in late 2016. The Global Commons Initiative has received many positive reactions and much support; however, the primary criticism has been that the thinking remains at a high level.
The IUCN has capitalised on the synergy between the need for the Global Commons initiative to deliver a case study of the potential for transformation of an economic sector to yield sustainable development benefits, and the opportunity presented by the establishment of the IUCN Oil Palm Task Force to undertake the situation analysis and communicate its results. The Situation Analysis assesses the various costs and benefits of oil palm production, outlines how work on oil palm could be served by, and interact with, the existing policy machinery, legal processes and agreements, and explores the management and environmental tools that could be deployed to deliver these targets, to provide the basis for strategic investment for transformative change in the sector.