Photo courtesy of Margie Marson

What’s Missing?

News that may have slipped under your radar: from NYU’s pledge to combat climate change to the Associated Press’ investigation into the exploitation of female palm oil workers.

NYU has committed to the Cool Food Pledge, pledging to “reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by the year 2030.” 23 NYU-run dining facilities across the world are rolling out initiatives to meet this goal.
At NYU Abu Dhabi, dining outlets will have a larger variety of vegan and vegetarian options on offer.
“NYUAD Dining will be bringing these foods to the ‘center of the menu’ to help reduce the intake of high-carbon foods without compromising nutrition, flavor or quality,” said Adam Kice, manager of campus services.
On Nov. 18, the governments of UAE and Greece announced that the two nations have partnered to tackle issues of defense and energy. The alliance will reportedly include “convergence in regional and international issues of mutual concern” and the confrontation of “joint challenges threatening regional and international peace, security and stability.”
The partnership comes after both Emirati and Greek officials expressed concerns over Turkey’s involvement in regional issues. Following Turkey’s agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey and Greece have been involved in disputes over gas and exploration rights. The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash also condemned Ankara’s “[interference] in Arab affairs.”
In addition to these issues, the agreement covers “the consolidation of trade and tourism ties, as well as the strengthening of partnership in the energy, culture and digital sectors.”
The Associated Press’ investigation into the working conditions of female palm oil workers in Indonesia and Malaysia found various instances of alleged exploitation, including sexual harassment and no pay.
According to the AP, women working on palm oil plantations are often subject to sexual abuse but rarely speak out owing to inaction on the parts of companies and the police. Cases of alleged harassment are generally settled through “peace solutions” wherein the victim’s family is given monetary compensation.
On top of this, female workers are forced to undertake strenuous and life-threatening tasks, including lugging heavy loads and spraying toxic pesticides without protective gear. A number of women told the AP that they have faced health issues due to the nature of their work. A majority do not have access to or are unable to afford health care as they are paid daily wages and do not get any employee benefits. Some even work without pay to aid their spouses in meeting daily quotas.
The AP traced palm oil and its derivatives from some of these mills and plantations to the supply chains of several global brands, including L’Oréal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Avon and Johnson & Johnson. It was also found that some sources tied to allegations of abuse were certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, “an association that promotes ethical production, including provisions to safeguard laborers.”
Naeema Mohammed Sageer is Deputy News Editor. Email her at
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