As world leaders prepare to descend into Rio de Janeiros for the United Nations conference on sustainable development known as Rio + 20, it is a time for New Zealand to reflect on our part to play in the sustainable future the world is heading for. The whole world is watching what negotiators and world leaders are attempting to implement or obstruct. The world watches in the hope that this conference will finally make good on nearly 40 years of commitments.
The conference is an opportunity for John Key. It is a world stage to take a stand on sustainability, to say no to what New Zealanders believe is wrong. The palm oil industry continues to expand, eating up precious rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia while the resulting two billion tonnes of carbon released from the peatlands fuels climate change.
When Cadbury included palm oil in it’s dairy milk, the nation revolted against them and forced them to back down. The boycott showed just how much New Zealand understands and cares about the issue. Even given this huge body of the New Zealand public that are against such a destructive ingredient, our government hasn’t uttered a word against the palm oil industry in the lead up to Rio.
At Rio + 20 we have an opportunity to be on a world stage campaigning for real and independent sustainable certification of palm oil, for enforced laws against palm oil companies sprawling into the rainforest and the most implementable change of all would be to recognise the wants of New Zealanders and announce that consumers will be given mandatory palm oil labelling.
We have a history of punching above our weight. We gave women the vote, we said no to nuclear, we split the atom and we climbed Everest. Now it is time to once again be a world leader and take a stand against palm oil.
The time is now.