The International Olive Council chose November 26 for a celebration of the olive tree, the “universal symbol of peace and harmony, which has now spread to the five continents and contributes to sustainable economic and social development and the preservation of natural resources,” the Madrid organization said.
Between 2014 and 2016, the land area in the world planted with olive trees have increased by 10 percent: from 10 million hectares (24.7M acres) to 11 million hectares (27.1M acres), of which well over 8 million hectares (19.7M acres) are not irrigated.
A ceremony was held at the headquarters of the IOC, during which the executive director, Abdellatif Ghedira, read an official declaration on the importance of olive trees, their health benefits and their environmental relevance.
This was also the subject of a short film prepared for the COP22 conference: ‘Olive oil, the liquid gold helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’
“As an agent in combating global warming, olive growing has a positive carbon balance, sequestering more CO2 in its growth cycle than the greenhouse gasses emitted in the production process of virgin and extra virgin olive,” Ghedira noted.
“Olive oil and table olives “are a proven source of nutrition and health, key ingredients in the Mediterranean diet and increasingly appreciated by the world’s most renowned chefs.”
Furthermore, “the action of their many therapeutic properties in preventing certain diseases is now widely recognized,” as the IOC declared during the event.
The ceremony included a tribute to Shimon Lavee, who twice held office as the IOC chairperson and who contributed considerably to the activities of the organisation and to the development of the sector.
With the idea to set up an annual celebration, the IOC published in September a call for proposals for grants to co-finance the series of simultaneous events which have been scheduled by member countries (the United States is not a member of the IOC).