Position of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil due diligence.
New York, United States, 24 September 2021: To minimize the risk of further global deforestation, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) believes that collaboration across agricultural-commodity industries, supply chains, and with governments and NGOs, is fundamental to halting deforestation and protecting forests, wildlife habitats and areas of biodiversity. The credibility of sustainable production rests on transparent and verifiable supply chains, and it is RSPO’s mission to develop, implement, verify, assure, and periodically review credible global standards for the entire sustainable palm oil supply chain. Voluntary initiatives such as the RSPO play a vital role in due diligence but are not a silver bullet. Therefore, as previously stated in regards to E.U. Due Diligence legislation, RSPO reiterates its belief that the backing of governments is urgently needed to tip the scale for supply chains free from deforestation, both legal and illegal.
RSPO unites more than 5,000 stakeholders, in 101 countries, from all sectors including oil palm growers, processors, traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks, investors, environmental and social non-governmental organisations, and civil society organisations. By convening stakeholders to seek solutions to the challenges of the palm oil sector, RSPO has created a platform to transform how palm oil is produced, traded, and sold. Approximately 19% of all palm oil produced globally is certified to RSPO standards, which work to protect primary and secondary forests from legal and illegal deforestation, ensure the habitats of wildlife are not harmed, and also safeguard workers, communities, and indigenous people in oil palm producing regions. Yet we recognise that alone we cannot solve the challenges of the palm oil sector.
To amplify the progress made, RSPO welcomes the U.S. government’s recent interest in supporting the work of organizations like the RSPO and encourages Congress to build upon existing voluntary initiatives by implementing binding rules to ensure companies follow high standards to act responsibly and address social and environmental issues. Holding all companies to the same high standards like that of the RSPO will help create a level playing field for sourcing and producing sustainable products. Building upon the RSPO standards will help minimise the risk of illegal deforestation and forest degradation linked to products distributed throughout the U.S.
- The RSPO Principles & Criteria and RSPO Supply Chain Certification is the best way for companies and governments to meet their No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments as it applies to palm oil sourcing policies;
- The RSPO Principles & Criteria consists of seven core principles, one of which is to “operate legally and respect rights.” Legality is a requirement for RSPO certified production, making RSPO Certification a viable tool for due diligence related to illegal deforestation;
- Certification standards, such as RSPO, offer a real opportunity to take responsibility and become part of the solution;
- To scale the efforts of RSPO members, we welcome legislative action from governments to include our standards in their policies, from national interpretations of the RSPO’s standards for growers, to public procurement policies encouraging the purchase of RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil;
- The RSPO’s Annual Communication on Progress provides the U.S. Government an existing reporting platform to benchmark progress of American companies and industries;
- The RSPO has the ability to closely monitor RSPO member concessions through tools like the RSPO Hotspot Hub, which utilizes advanced satellite technology to provide near real-time information on detected hotspots and potential fires in oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia. This level of transparency and monitoring could be further amplified by consumer countries encouraging increased RSPO certification in producing countries;
- By advocating for certified sustainable palm oil, governments can encourage deforestation-free supply chains and determine the future of our forests; and
- Holding companies accountable through existing, credible certification standards as due diligence provides private sector actors a level playing field and continuity with other global markets like the E.U.
There are many contributors to deforestation (e.g. soy, beef/cattle, pulp and paper), and nearly half of all deforestation is due to illegal deforestation. When grown sustainably, oil palm has an opportunity to actually reduce deforestation, and the 2018 RSPO P&C are some of the strictest agricultural standards worldwide. The RSPO P&C includes legality requirements to prevent illegal deforestation, but goes further by prohibiting deforestation by incorporating the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA), RSPO standards require the identification, maintenance, and enhancement of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas and High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests. These continued efforts by RSPO members mean that in a single year (June 2018 – July 2019), by avoiding land clearance and any new planting on peat, and by sequestering conservation areas in new development, 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 have been saved. This is the equivalent to removing almost 300,000 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
‘Business as usual’ is no longer a viable approach for companies of any size, involved in the import of agricultural and forest commodities. Certification standards, such as RSPO, offer a real opportunity to take responsibility and become part of the solution. We must guarantee that only certified sustainable palm oil is produced, and that greater action is taken by brands to use deforestation-free palm oil from RSPO members certified to the 2018 RSPO P&C Standard. Governments have a critical role to play in meeting voluntary industry commitments. By advocating for certified sustainable palm oil, governments can encourage deforestation-free supply chains and determine the future of our forests.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. RSPO is a not-for-profit, international, membership organisation that unites stakeholders from the different sectors of the palm oil industry including oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs, and social or developmental NGOs.
This multi-stakeholder representation is mirrored in the governance structure of RSPO such that seats in the Board of Governors, Steering Committees and Working Groups are fairly allocated to each sector. In this way, RSPO lives out the philosophy of the “roundtable” by giving equal rights to each stakeholder group, facilitating traditionally adversarial stakeholders in working together to reach decisions by consensus, and achieving RSPO’s shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.
The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with satellite offices in Jakarta (ID), London (UK), Zoetermeer (NL), Beijing (CN) and Bogotá (CO).
For further information, kindly contact:
|Name: Cameron Plese
Position: Head of North America
T: +1 480-231-1126