Last Wednesday 2 September, RSPO hosted a virtual Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue together with IDH and EPOA. RSPO's Head of Operations for Europe & Africa, Inke van der Sluijs, shares her top five takeaways from the event. 

For our second 'Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue – Europe', we had close to 500 stakeholders in attendance, demonstrating that whether it is virtual or physical, a dialogue on sustainable palm oil is still relevant. The speakers and moderators did a phenomenal job on this new interactive platform. In case you missed it, here are my five takeaways:

No silver bullet to halt deforestation 

Halting deforestation and forest degradation remains a challenge and our diverse panelists agreed that we need a smart mix of measures to address the challenge, there is “no silver bullet” to quote Sebastian Lesch of BMZ . It is important to create a level playing field and EU regulation should apply to all commodities that are linked to deforestation and forest degradation. Additionally, we need to incentivise sustainable producers. Markets should support farmers and not exclude them from their supply base.

A decent living wage

IDH, RSPO, and ISEAL discussed the social challenges in the agriculture sector and the gap between current wages and a decent living wage (DLW). These gaps can be bridged when the whole supply chain contributes. For palm oil, we are in the midst of establishing the current and the decent living wage. DLW is already incorporated in the 2018 RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) but needs to be fully implemented. This requires the commitment of the entire supply chain. 

Landscape approaches for scalable solutions

A session on inclusive approaches for sustainable landscapes gave interesting insights into scalable solutions to protect forests, communities, human rights, and create livelihood improvements. Pepsico and WWF shared the learnings of two landscape or jurisdictional projects, one in Aceh-Indonesia and one in Sabah-Malaysia. Government involvement is instrumental to the success of this approach. Markets have the opportunity to support landscape projects and increase their impact on the ground. 

Collective action to achieve 100% CSPO

Last year, the European market imported 86% RSPO certified sustainable palm oil. Although a great result, it is 2020, and we have not yet reached our 2020 target of 100%. Collective action is needed to achieve this in Europe but there is also a call for companies to clean up their global supply chains, not just in Europe. The finance sector plays an important role to accelerate market transformation and provide access to finances to smallholders.

Let’s talk to consumers 

Sustainable palm oil is still mainly a B2B discussion, and we need to change consumer perception  – that the main alternative is a boycott  – and raise awareness for sustainable palm oil. Consumers need to see how the palm oil sector is working to make it more sustainable. Fortunately, we have seen positive campaigns from Ferrero, Upfield, and Tesco, even beyond Europe, and I think these campaigns show the way for others to communicate with consumers in an educated, positive way.

RSPO is in the process of providing new stories to consumers with a clear call to action that drives consumers to use or demand certified sustainable palm in the products they know and love.  To help our members with communications on sustainable palm oil, we have developed a communications toolkit with messaging, educational videos and images that can be used on your own channels. We will need the support of all stakeholders to help amplify this messaging and content to as wide an audience as possible. 

Only together we can create change and have a positive impact. 

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