Organised by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and facilitated by Australian consultancy Futureye, the RSPO Growers workshop that was held in Jakarta from 11 to 12 February 2015 saw the participation of thirty senior managers from sixteen RSPO member Oil Palm Growers companies. Participants gathering at the Intercontinental Hotel in Jakarta for the two day event was not only represented by the Indonesian and Malaysian industry, but also companies operating in new frontiers such as Latin America and Africa.
Two days of frank and energetic debate lead the participants through the mapping of the industry current issues, and how Palm Oil Companies that operate sustainably and communicate transparently can build a social licence to operate, defined as the set of conditions society places on a service, company or industry, which the latter are required to fulfil in order not to incur into sanctions. Participants learned that Industries that are losing their social licence to operate face greater activism, consumer backlash, litigation, regulation and political interference. Industries who own a social licence to operate benefit instead of society’s tacit or explicit agreement to exist and grow.
Facilitators stimulated the discussion towards a common understanding and positioning around the weaknesses and opportunities linked to the Palm Oil Industry – such new market demands for no deforestation, preservation of biodiversity, north/south gaps, smallholder inclusivity, value chain, corruption in producer countries etc.
Participants allowed and enabled each other to see the issues from another perspective and develop clarity about the dilemmas. They also realised the importance of acknowledging the past and current issues for each party and to become the enablers of solutions that inspire the industry, and meaningfully measure progress and resolve issues publicly.
The discussions and results achieved during the workshop will be summarised in a report and toolkit. Shared with all companies who participated to the workshop, the report will be the first step to deploy the strategy and stimulate move towards better transparency and sustainable practices. The aim will be to ensure that companies can learn from each other in this journey and develop a sense of shared responsibility as an industry.