Earth Day 2022 marked a special occasion for RSPO to take nearly 300 participants from around the world on a virtual tour to oil palm plantations and orangutan conservation areas in Kalimantan, Indonesia, which are managed responsibly by Indonesian RSPO members. Through the eyes of Indonesian palm oil producers, participants were able to observe sustainable practices aligned with RSPO’s certification standards, and gained a deeper understanding of how sustainable palm oil can positively impact people, prosperity and the planet.    

The latest installment is part of the series of virtual tours replacing the physical visits that RSPO had regularly conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The series are innovative and experiential learning experiences aimed at educating audiences worldwide about the value of RSPO certification, using advanced technological platforms and media. RSPO carried out this virtual tour in collaboration with Bumitama Gunajaya Agro (BGA), Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (SSMS), the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), and Youth in Sustainability (YiS).  

“Everyone joining this virtual tour is able to see first-hand, albeit virtually, how the RSPO Principles and Criteria standards are implemented in our member plantations,” said Irene Fischbach, RSPO Director of Stakeholder Engagement & Communications. “We hope this provides an educational and informative platform for all parties responsible for driving the transformation of the sustainable palm oil market, especially those in Asia Pacific and Europe.”

“Our goal is to encourage the next generation of leaders to become smart, responsible consumers by encouraging them to voice lifestyle changes,” said Adhitya Latif Prahesta, National Coordinator of YiS Indonesia. “We invite all young people around the world to join us so that together we can consistently support a sustainable environment, one of which is by supporting the practice of sustainable palm oil, helping us to achieve our noble ideals of achieving a better world.” 

Some participants of the tour also shared their positive experiences. “The harmony between the mills and the communities really impressed me a lot. Such a great job and effort to create this harmonious environment,” said Will, a representative from Impact Hub Shanghai.

Raising awareness of palm oil’s sustainable side
The virtual tour addresses the lack of awareness and information about the sustainable side of palm oil. Indonesia, as well as other producing and consuming countries, are challenged by a widespread negative perception of palm oil, and many palm oil players have not yet supported the movement towards sustainably produced palm oil. Yet palm oil is an important part of a diversified and balanced market for vegetable oils, being the most efficient vegetable oil crop on the market that meets 40% of the global demand while only occupying 6% of the land used to produce vegetable oils. This makes palm oil especially beneficial in ensuring global food security for a growing population expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Currently, Indonesia is the world's largest producer of sustainable palm oil. As of February 2022, there were 11.12 million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) in the country, contributing 59.6% of the world's CSPO availability.

RSPO aims to encourage all parties, in both producing and consuming countries, to take a more holistic approach to the topic of palm oil – an approach that considers the range of challenges and situations faced by growers, particularly smallholder farmers, in various oil palm producing regions. 

Through credible, sustainable certification standards like the RSPO Principles and Criteria, oil palm growers are equipped with the necessary tools to halt deforestation, protect forests, wildlife habitats and areas of biodiversity, and safeguard the rights of local and indigenous communities and workers while also improving their livelihoods.

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