RSPO Launches Impacts Study

Singapore, 24 December 2013:
 The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) recently launched its Impacts Study, better known as the “Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Oil Palm Research” (Sensor). The research is part of the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) program by RSPO as part of its efforts for continuous improvement by collating scientific evidences.
This independent research on the impacts of RSPO’s certification was initiated by RSPO in 2012 and is based on a scoping study and knowledge gap analysis that was conducted by the Royal Society South East Asia Rainforest Research Program (SEARRP).
This research is divided into five topics by a panel of leading scientists from renowned universities, which includes the University of York, Lancaster University, University of Leeds and Swansea University in the United Kingdom as well as Wageningen University in the Netherlands and it will be coordinated by the SEARRP.
According to Darrel Webber, Secretary General of RSPO, “There is an urgent need for independent scientific research to examine the effectiveness of the RSPO sustainability standards, and this information will be provided by the SEnSOR project”.
SEnSOR is expected to deliver the bulk of its findings in time to contribute to the next review of RSPO’s Principles and Criteria (P&C) in 2018. However, the programme will continue to generate a flow of interim findings as well as policy or position statements based on current and on-going research.
Over the past year, SEARRP has mounted a major fund raising drive to support SEnSOR. Thus far, funding of RM1 million has been secured from the UK Government to develop the policy components and communication elements of SEnSOR, but RSPO and SEnSOR Program are seeking joint contribution from members and stakeholders to fund this impacts research programme.
According to Dr Glen Reynolds, Director and Senior Scientist of SEARRP, “SEnSOR will directly address issues of sustainability in oil palm, and we want to make sure the outputs of the programme have maximum impact, by ensuring that the information is available to the people who develop policy”.
Priority areas for research include key areas of concern such as the benefits of RSPO certification to local communities, the available mechanisms and options for labour relations as well as its effectiveness, functionalities of the different High Conservation Values (HCV) criteria i.e. HCV 1 to HCV 6 and the ability of HCV protection for social or cultural purposes to also benefit biodiversity.
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