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In recognition of the distinctive nature/characteristic of Independent Smallholders in different palm oil producing countries demographically, culturally, socially, economically or legally, the Smallholder Standing Committee (SHSC) and the Standard Standing Committee (SSC) met and collectively agreed that RSPO members and stakeholders of a country can decide if a country-specific interpretation of the generic RSPO Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard is needed.
A country-specific interpretation of the RSPO ISH Standard provides national level guidance on the implementation and auditing on the compliance of the Independent Smallholders Group against the RSPO ISH Standard, based on national applicable laws and circumstances.
Any country-specific interpretation of the RSPO ISH Standard shall be conducted in accordance with the RSPO Standard Operating Procedure for Standard Setting and Review 2020. Three IMPORTANT process guidelines to be highlighted are:
Initiation and conclusion of the development process
Referring to Clause 220.127.116.11, any initiation of the development process must be approved by the RSPO Secretariat by the end of November 2021. The development process must be concluded with the country interpretation endorsed by the RSPO SSC and Board of Governors (BoG) by the end of November 2022.
Definition of smallholders (including size threshold);
Applicable local laws and regulations pertaining to land and land-use rights and legality; and
Any other matters relevant to the local context of Independent Smallholders.
Learning from previous years of experience in developing national interpretations for the RSPO P&C, which is often a resource intensive process; the SSC is providing an alternative option to stakeholders of the country in developing a local interpretation. The development of a local interpretation is to provide a more practical and less resource intensive process involving the smallholders and stakeholders.
A local interpretation is to be developed in accordance with Clause 9.6, limited to the following items only: i) Definition of smallholders (including size threshold); ii) Applicable local laws and regulations pertaining to land and land-use rights and legality; and iii) Any other matters relevant to the local context of Independent Smallholders that do not alter the core substance of the principles, criteria and indicators of the RSPO ISH Standard.
Public consultation for the draft local interpretation of the RSPO ISH Standard is not mandatory (Working Group to indicate if public consultation is necessary and if so, shall send a request to the RSPO Secretariat), and it shall be subject to review and approval by the SSC.
Otherwise, should a national interpretation be deemed necessary for the country, the process shall be conducted in accordance with Clause 9.2, and a minimum of a 60-day public consultation is mandatory.