Update on the Progress of the 2023 Standards Review
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has completed its comprehensive and highly consultative review of its current 2018 RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C), 2019 RSPO Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard and associated system documents, and will commence a technical revision process to produce revised standards in 2024.
The Board has entrusted the technical revisions to be undertaken by the Secretariat in close consultation with all stakeholders under the continued guidance of the Review Steering Group and the Standards Standing Committee. The Board has full confidence that the Secretariat will deliver a credible, relevant and impactful standard and certification system which will, amongst others, ensure the organisation’s continued relevance in the face of shifting regulatory and market expectations. The Secretariat has been directed to produce the revised set of standards and associated certification system by no later than the deadline for submission to the 21st General Assembly in 2024.
In February 2022, the RSPO, led by the P&C Review Task Force with the support of the Technical Committees and external facilitators, commenced its five-year review cycle of its standards. A major focus of the review was on improving the audibility and implementability of the RSPO Standards in all growers categories. Additionally, the process aimed to make recommendations on which elements of the revised P&C should be applied to non-grower RSPO Members as part of their Shared Responsibility to promote sustainable palm oil.
The RSPO Standards review identified several areas for potential improvement that required technical analysis and consultations beyond the scope of the Task Force to ensure the development of relevant and effective standards that are implementable and auditable.
The Steering Group has proposed the following actions, which were endorsed by the Standards Steering Committee and approved by the Board:
- The Secretariat will finalise the review and commence the revision of the certification system documents for the P&C and ISH Standard in parallel with the revision of the standards, as well as develop any guidance documents required to supplement the standards.
- The Secretariat will revise the associated normative guidances and Certification System Document for the P&C and ISH Standard in line with the requirements for clarity, relevance, implementability and auditability as soon as possible, but not later than the deadline for submission to the General Assembly meeting in 2024.
- The development of the revised standards and certification system documents will coordinate with the development of the new RSPO certification, trade and traceability system (CTTS) to ensure that the digital system is fully aligned with the revised standards and certification requirements.
The RSPO Standards review process is in compliance with the global association for sustainability standards, the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance, which recommends that a standard must be reviewed at least every five years for continued relevance and effectiveness in meeting its stated objectives. If the review concludes that changes to the standard are required, then a standards revision is carried out according to the process outlined in the ISEAL Impacts and Standard-Setting Code.
Standards Review Overview
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is initiating its five year review cycle of the 2018 RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) and the review of the 2019 RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard. The development of standard requirements applicable to medium growers and Scheme Smallholders will also be explored.
Apart from reviewing the standard applicable to the production of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and Certified Fresh Fruit Bunch (CFFB), this process also aims to make recommendations on which elements of the revised P&C should be applied to non-grower RSPO members as part of their Shared Responsibility to promote sustainable palm oil.
The objective of this process is to review and streamline the production standard to ensure continued relevance and effectiveness in demonstrating that palm oil produced and sold as RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is credible and inclusive.
To strengthen the credibility of the RSPO certification scheme, this review process strives to address the following key challenges:
- Ensuring the comprehensiveness and relevance of RSPO Standards;
- Achieving desired impact;
- Clarifying interpretations and uncertainties;
- Resolving inadequate capacities and resources in the assurance systems; and
- Aligning RSPO approaches with other sustainability initiatives.
Public Comments Received: Revised RSPO Principles and Criteria and RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard
The draft of the revised RSPO Principles & Criteria (P&C) and RSPO Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard has gone through two rounds of public consultation which was carried out during 1 November to 31 December 2022, and 1 to 30 June 2023 respectively.
You can download the comments received for both rounds of Public Consultation below:
Standard Review Task Force (TF) Meeting Dates
Where to learn more about the Standards Review
The review process will be guided by the RSPO Standard Operating Procedure for Standard Setting and Review (2020), in line with ISEAL Alliance’s requirements and the ISEAL Standard-setting Code of Good Practices V6.
Please review the Terms of Reference (ToR) & Review Process for complete details endorsed by the RSPO Board of Governors on 14 February 2022.
Governance Structure Members
The RSPO Standard Standing Committee (SSC) will provide oversight on the entire process, wherein a Steering Group, consisting of the CEO of the RSPO Secretariat and the Co-Chairs of the RSPO Standards, Assurance, Market Development and Smallholder Standing Committee will ensure a coordinated, comprehensive and joint approach to the review, and will make decisions in the event that consensus cannot be achieved at the TF level.