New Delhi, Oct 19 : For surviving the wild animals, a five-year crucial global pact was signed at a summit in Germany on Thursday with an aim to promote sustainable means of growing palm oil which often results in widespread loss to biodiversity, including in Southeast Asia.

The agreement was signed between the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil at the five-day 72nd WAZA Annual Conference that concluded in Berlin.

The five-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by WAZA President Jenny Gray and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Chief Executive Officer Darrel Webber.

It focuses on a framework of cooperation and understanding between them, to further their shared goals and objectives in regard to the transformation of markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm.

Palm oil is a $65-billion industry, and it is estimated that palm oil is found in over half of all consumer items, including candy, snack foods, make-up items, paint, pet food and many more.

Unsustainable means of growing and processing palm oil has resulted in widespread devastation and biodiversity loss across Southeast Asia, Equatorial Africa and Latin America.

"Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil producer-members, large and small, will now have an ally to educate consumers and thereafter encourage them to pull the sustainable palm oil supply chain," an official statement quoting Webber said.

"This will be the incentive for producers to be allies with WAZA members, in conserving important landscapes and wildlife species," he added.

WAZA and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a not-for-profit association formed in 2004 with the aim of promoting use of sustainable palm oil products, will strive to work together to influence consumers to use sustainable palm oil.

WAZA -- a global alliance of 400 zoos and aquariums in over 50 countries -- will participate in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Biodiversity and High Conservation Value Working Group to provide information on potential in situ conservation projects.

"More than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums every year, which is why WAZA members can play a vital role in informing visitors of the devastating effects of unsustainable palm oil production," said WAZA Chief Executive Officer Doug Cress.

"This agreement with RSPO offers the WAZA community the resources to change consumer behaviour and lead by example. We hope to have more than half of our membership committed to sustainable palm oil by 2023," Cress added.

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