Development Process

RSPO Standards and supporting documents development process

RSPO Standards and supporting documents are developed through a comprehensive, consensus-driven and transparent process. This includes RSPO multi-stakeholder members participating within the relevant supporting bodies, feedback from the general public and contributions from interested stakeholders through a public consultation.

The development process for all documents is:

Terms of Reference (ToR)

The ToR defines the background, objective, scope and expected output of the project/standard; clear social, environmental and economic aims which the project/standard aims to achieve; and an assessment of risks and how they will be mitigated. This document is used to guide and align the understanding and expectations of the respective Working Groups/Task Forces during the development process. The ToR is prepared either by a Working Group/Task Force or Standing Committee, depending on the type of document, and availability of existing relevant Working Groups/Task Forces.


Working Group / Task Force

RSPO’s Working Groups and Task Forces are set up with the aim of creating a focused platform for members to discuss complex challenges and work towards developing solutions. As a multi-stakeholder, participatory roundtable that works on the basis of consensus, it is essential that all members feed into the decision-making process. The groups are primarily tasked to discuss and develop standards/documents relating to specific issues mandated by the Standard Standing Committee (SSC) or RSPO Board of Governors (BoG). They are made up of a representative from each of the seven membership stakeholder groups and are periodically created to deal with a specific issue.


Work Programme / Plan

The work programme/plan is developed by the mandated Working Group/Task Force. It outlines the contact point and details for the standard development activity, scope of the standard including objectives and justification, and proposed timelines for specific activities within the standard development process. This work programme/plan is updated at least every six months until the standard is adopted.


Public Consultation

Public consultations play a key role in ensuring stakeholders outside of the respective Working Group/Task Force are provided a platform to review and give feedback during standard/document development. This allows for increased participation, balance of interests, and transparency of the specific standard in development. The Working Group/Task Force shall review the feedback and revise the standard/document in development, where necessary.

Public consultations are conducted in the following frequency and duration:

  • New standards: At least two rounds of public consultation — first being at least 60 days; second for a minimum of 30 days
  • Standard revisions: At least one round of public consultation of at least 60 days
  • Informative documents (optional): At least one round of public consultation of at least 30 days

If there are issues that persist after the public consultation period, or if insufficient feedback was obtained, additional rounds of public consultation shall be carried out.


Pilot Testing

New or revised standards are required to undergo field testing to assess the feasibility and auditability of the developed standard. This can include field trials, mock audits, and impact and risk assessments, as appropriate.

Pilot testing is mandatory for new/revised Standards and optional for Informative Supporting Documents.



All RSPO standards and supporting documents developed by Working Groups/Task Forces are reviewed by the RSPO Standard Standing Committee (SSC). This is to ensure all required activities and requirements as outlined in the above Standard Development Process are complied with. RSPO standards require endorsement by the BoG and voting by the RSPO General Assembly (GA). Supporting documents do not require voting by the GA and the endorsement process differs by the type of document.

There are two types of supporting documents:

  • Informative: Provide guidance on the implementation of the RSPO Standards, will be subject to approval by the SSC
  • Normative: Support implementation of the RSPO Standards, can only be endorsed by the Board of Governors (BoG)

Once a document has been endorsed, it will be published in News & Events and be accessible within the Standards section under Resources.

For Normative documents, the RSPO will hold webinars to walk interested parties through the new document. This too will be published on our website under Events.