At the welcome reception on the eve of the 17th Annual Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT17), the winners of the inaugural 2019 RSPO Excellence Awards were announced, across five key impact areas, as follows:
- Human Rights and Labour Initiative: Wilmar International Limited
- Conservation Leadership: Olam International Limited
- Smallholder Impact Programme: KUD Tani Subur
- Community Impact: Agroaceite S.A.
- Outstanding Achievement: Taronga Conservation Society Australia.
The project Wilmar International Limited won their award for was a comprehensive company-wide programme covering a range of human rights and labour initiatives, including efforts in promoting women’s rights, protecting the rights of children in oil palm plantations, as well as improving oil palm worker’s rights and welfare. Meanwhile, Olam International’s project demonstrated a strong commitment to the RSPO Principles and Criteria in their effort to establish sustainable oil palm plantations that generated net positive impacts through forest conservation, species conservation and emission reduction at a significant scale in Gabon. Olam applied the use of advanced and innovative instruments for monitoring and prevention of human-wildlife conflict, while also actively engaging and involving local communities in a meaningful manner at every stage of their conservation programmes.
Judges chose KUD Tani Subur as the winner of the Smallholder Impact Programme award for their demonstrated leadership in representing independent smallholder farmers in the jurisdictional certification approach that delivered positive impacts to the livelihood and well-being of smallholder members, the surrounding communities and landscapes. Their approach is especially novel as it is self-initiated and sustained, which has led to more positive buy-in from participant smallholders and is enticing many other smallholder schemes to join the programme.
Agroaceite S.A. was selected for the Community Impact award for dedicating 10 hectares of their plantation to the construction of a Human Development Centre. The centre offers a holistic and financially sustainable community development programme that has generated significant positive impact for employees and their families, as well as the surrounding communities. Since 2014, the medical clinic at the HDC has treated over 27,000 patients.
Lastly, Taronga Conservation Society won the Outstanding Achievement award for their ‘Raise Your Palm – Driving Change Through Taronga’s Tiger Trek’ project, which has reached more than 2 million visitors. The innovative, creative, and immersive experience inspires visitors to take positive action to protect the remaining tiger population and to empower them to make consumer choices to support RSPO certified palm oil.
An honourable mention went to Japanese consumer goods manufacturer, Saraya Co. Limited for their long-term effort in conservation of wildlife on the ground along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah. Their notable efforts include establishing the Borneo Conservation Trust (an NGO aimed at establishing green corridor along the river), raising funds for the project across Japan, as well as donating 1% of the sales of their palm oil related products to it.
RSPO CEO, Datuk Darrel Webber, said, “It’s been an overwhelming response with 36 submissions and on behalf of the RSPO Secretariat, we would like to thank all members for their efforts in submitting these fantastic projects to be considered for our very first RSPO Excellence Awards! A special thanks must also go to our panel of independent judges, who are leaders and experts from relevant sectors of the palm oil and/or sustainability industry – Adam Harrison, Dr. Helena Varkkey, Dr. Janice Lee, John Patrick Baskett, Teoh Cheng Hai, Dr. Truly Santika, and Urmila Bhoola.”