The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a not-for-profit, international membership organisation that is working to transform markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm. To do this, we have united stakeholders from all sectors of the palm oil supply chain and civil society to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil production and procurement.

Since its inception in 2004, RSPO has enjoyed rapid growth and today has close to 5,000 members from 100 countries, including oil palm producers, processors, traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks, and non-governmental organisations. Thanks to the commitments and actions of these members, nearly 20% of the global supply of palm oil has already been certified as sustainable.

RSPO recognises the importance of smallholders and the need for improving smallholder inclusion into the RSPO system. More than three million smallholders and small-scale farmers make a living from palm oil globally. While their farmlands are small compared to industrial plantations, smallholders account for approximately 40% of total global palm oil production, making smallholders significant contributors towards a sustainable oil palm industry.

In March 2017, the RSPO Board of Governors (BOG) approved the RSPO Smallholder Strategy, which paved the way for the adoption of the RSPO Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard in 2019. The standard aims to increase the inclusion of smallholders into the RSPO system through a mechanism that recognises the challenges faced by smallholders globally.  To date, a total of 162,938 smallholders are covered by various RSPO schemes, representing 460,823 hectares of certified area.

The Head of the Smallholders Programme Unit will be responsible for leading and managing the Smallholders Programme Unit ensuring that the direction and workplan is effectively implemented in accordance with the RSPO Smallholder Strategy.

Reporting to the Technical Director, the Head of Smallholders Programme Unit will manage an international team of technical managers and specialists across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. S/he will serve as a primary interface for smallholder groups, members, and stakeholders who wish to engage with the RSPO and will support the mission and purpose of the organisation by supporting the RSPO Smallholder Standing Committee.

The preferred location of this role is Malaysia, Indonesia, or Singapore.


Duties include but will not be limited to the following:

  1. To provide strategic direction to the RSPO Leadership Team and the Smallholders Programme Unit on all matters relevant to smallholder inclusion and lead the implementation of the RSPO Smallholder Strategy.
  2. To oversee the development and implementation of relevant livelihood programmes aimed at improving smallholder livelihoods globally.
  3. To ensure the smallholder certification programme is successfully implemented, in close coordination with the relevant departments internally to increase the number of smallholders certified globally.
  4. To improve market demand and access to financial and non-financial support for smallholders, in close collaboration with the relevant departments through the RSPO smallholder global market engagement programme.
  5. To ensure efficient management of the Smallholder Standing Committee, working groups, and/or task forces directly under the purview of the Smallholders Programme Unit, and any others that involve the active participation of the unit’s staff.
  6. To oversee the day-to-day operations of the Smallholders Programme Unit, including the development and implementation of its annual plan and budget in line with the wider organisational objectives.
  7. To oversee the management and scale-up of the RSPO Smallholder Trainer Academy, RSPO Smallholder Support Fund, and smallholder-related data management.
  8. To perform any other duty or duties reasonably assigned by the Leadership Team.


  • A bachelor's degree in the field of Environmental Science/Management, Agronomy, Sustainability, or related majors.
  • At least 8 years of experience in agricultural and/or community development, sustainability, audits, and/or certification schemes.
  • Familiar with palm oil sustainability standards schemes (e.g., RSPO, MSPO, ISPO, etc.).
  • People management experience including building, leading, and developing high performing teams.


  • Strong business acumen with the ability to synthesise key themes and deliverables from objectives and strategies defined by senior management and the Leadership Team.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills including verbal and written communication, negotiation, cross-team project management, and consensus-building.
  • Ability to manage multiple stakeholders and/or projects.
  • Highly resourceful team player with the ability to be effective independently.
  • Able to plan, allocate, and monitor resources to meet fiscal targets and ensure proper budget management.
  • Emotional maturity, patience, curiosity, and a sustained willingness to change one’s mind.
  • Demonstrated ability to achieve high performance goals and meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment.
  • Forward-looking thinker, who actively seeks opportunities and proposes solutions.
  • Fluency in English and proficiency in additional Asian language(s) and/or Spanish is an advantage.


Your commitment and passion to drive innovation will be rewarded with an opportunity to work in an international multi-stakeholder organisation, where making a difference to People, Planet and Prosperity is not just a statement, but what we passionately believe in.

Operating within a dynamic and fast-paced environment, you will enjoy functioning within a role that offers the opportunity to broaden your skill set and develop your capabilities.


Qualified applicants are invited to send in their updated CV giving comprehensive details of educational background, work experience, and related achievements to [email protected]. Please state "Job Application – Head of Smallholders Programme Unit" in your email subject line. 

**RSPO is an equal opportunity employer. Due to the volume of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be notified.


Get Involved

Whether you’re an individual or an organisation, you can help make sustainable palm oil the norm.

As an individual

Take a stand for sustainable palm oil with your weekly shopping. See how you can influence brands and businesses.

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As a smallholder

Discover how RSPO Certification can introduce you to sustainable farming practices to increase your yield and the land and wildlife around your smallholding.

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As an organisation

You can make an impact on reducing the negative social and environmental impact of conventional oil palm cultivation through producing and sourcing certified sustainable palm oil.

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