Over the past seven years since 2006, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has a complaints and grievance mechanism. However, the complaints system itself has been the subject of many concerns and critiques.
In November 2013, the RSPO 10th General Assembly adopted Resolution 6f, entitled “Guaranteeing Fairness, Transparency and Impartiality in the RSPO Complaints System”. The Resolution was submitted by Sawit Watch, Lingkar Komunitas Sawit (LINKS), Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PANAP), and Yayasan SETARA Jambi (SETARA), and supported by WildAsia. In adopting the Resolution, the General Assembly agreed that the Executive Board (Board of Governors) should ensure a strict separation of executive powers in handling complaints and grievances in order to align with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, particularly the criteria of Principle 31 on effectiveness of non-judicial grievance mechanisms.
In conjunction with above initiative, following an open call for tenders in January 2014, Natural Justice and Borneo Conservancy Initiative (BCI) were commissioned by the RSPO Secretariat to undertake an independent review from April to December 2014 of the RSPO’s Complaints System.
A Review of Complaints System of the RSPO aims to:
- Review the current Complaints System against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as requested by Resolution 6f;
- Recommend and prioritise steps for further improvement and indicate costs involved; and
- Recommend improvement for efficiency of the Complaints System.
The first interim of Complaint Review Report (CRR) of an independent review of the RSPO’s complaints system was submitted in May 2014. The report identified four main areas to be addressed, namely: 1) Governance of the Complaints System; 2) Management of the Complaints System; 3) Internal and external procedural matters of complaints; and 4) Substantive aspects of complaints. After a multi-stakeholder consultation workshop in Bandung, Indonesia on 18-19 August 2014, the reviewer submitted the second CRR end August 2014 and the third and final CRR in November 2014, before the RSPO 11th General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur. Public consultation was conducted during the General Assembly, and the RSPO Secretariat had intensive discussion internally and with the reviewer to finalize the report in December 2014.