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Simulation Game Palm Oil

The small kernels of the oil palm with its brown and reddish fruit pulp are in the center of attention of the new simulation game that the Science Shop Bonn develops in cooperation with the company Innowego – Forum Bildung & Nachhaltigkeit eG. It is set up as a role play in which vocational students play the part of customers, salesmen, and purchasing agents. The central question for discussion is: Which actions should be taken to create a fair and sustainable trade with products containing palm oil?

With its fifth simulation game by now Bonn Science Shop again focuses on an ecological and human rights crucial issue by addressing the broad topic field of palm oil. Yet, making such complex issues understandable is one of the success factors of the game designers. Past simulation games like „Tatort Wald“ (crime scene forest) and UNEP were awarded multiple times. Goal of the current simulation game is to sensitize vocational students for sustainability in agriculture and trade. The game relates to the work practices of the apprentices and aims to thereby create an awareness of the problematic situation.

Downloading the documents

The simulation game „palm oil“ addresses students of commercial schools as it can be integrated into the subjects of economics or geography, for example. It piloted in spring 2016 and will be performed in four different schools in North Rhine Westphalia and Bavaria until the end of the year for now. At the same time an evaluation of the game will be taking place to discover possible improvements. The final version for vocational school teachers and other interested people will be available for download on the website of the Bonn Science Shop in 2017. The games requires a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 35 adolescents.

The students taking part in the game will experience a fictional scenario in which they will take the roles of customers, salesmen and purchasing agents. In the different stages they will deal with the all-rounder palm oil. They will for example learn that it is contained in half of all foodstuffs, as well as candles or detergents. But most importantly they will deal with the cultivation of palm oil and the devastating consequences for the rain forest and the people living in the growing area. The participants learn about the correlations of cheap production and inhumanly bad working conditions, as well as plantation economy, land theft, and deterioration of the soil. Besides learning about different supply chains of palm oil, the students will also acquire knowledge about obligatory and mandatory labeling of consumption goods.

Goal of the game: consensus finding

Following the phase of gaining knowledge the learning groups will present which position concerning the trade they advocate. The highlight of the simulation game is the discussion of the different standpoints where customers, salesmen and purchasing agents must agree upon compulsory measures. The participating students will thereby be made familiar with dealing with different standpoints of different parties and with finding compromises. Furthermore they will reflect on the fact that besides their commercial interests they are also responsible for society and environment.

The project is funded by the Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) as part of the development plan Engagement Global.