Creating change, measuring impact
How do we go about engineering change?
What topics are the key impact areas where RSPO can contribute? Why is demonstrating impact so important? To determine these, we continuously evolve our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) system to serve as a blueprint and enable us to chart our progress as:
- A standards system
- An engagement platform
- A sustainability leader
RSPO Theory of Change
The RSPO Theory of Change (ToC) is the roadmap that underpins how RSPO intends to achieve its goals and vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm. Our Theory of Change defines the guiding principles, roles and strategies in creating an industry-wide ecosystem that supports and accelerates the production and consumption of sustainable palm oil, with the goal of creating a positive impact balanced across three pillars: People, Planet, and Prosperity. The RSPO ToC is reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it is in line with the evolving nature of sustainability.
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RSPO is responsible for leading the multi-stakeholder activities involved in the effective development, implementation, and verification of standards to drive impact.
This role reinforces RSPO as the convener of civil society, government, business, and industry, who come together to tackle the challenging issues, innovate, develop, and invest in sector solutions.
RSPO assumes the role of leading sector transformation through a shared vision, coordination, thought leadership, and acting as a catalyst for change.
RSPO brings together stakeholders and supporters through various mechanisms (roundtables, working groups, task forces, governance structures, etc.) around a common vision, opportunities to engage, and clear strategies for change. This mobilisation also extends to investments and resources to support implementation.
Innovation in standards and benchmarks
Working with stakeholders and other systems to define the principles, criteria and practices that make sustainable palm oil production happen.
Credible certification, verification, and grievance
Assurance that builds stakeholder confidence and trust that sustainability requirements are met.
Participatory approach for smallholders
Inclusion of more smallholders in the RSPO system to produce sustainably and benefiting from sustainable palm oil production and trade.
Jurisdictional approaches for collective impact
Catalysing a platform for collective impact.
Demand generation, commitments, and uptake
Furthering commitments and uptake of sustainable palm oil to incentivise sustainable production.
Matching supply and demand
Growing both the volume and diversity of the supply base and markets and matching them to shore up long-term security of supply for the market and market access for growers.
Engagement of the supporting sector
Creating an enabling environment through being a catalyst, advocate, and partner for policies and incentives, investment, regulation, and enforcement.
RSPO and all of the mobilised actors collaborate and implement the strategies and supporting activities. Actions include implementation of the P&C, verification/assurance, providing support, seeking solutions, learning, and measuring progress. As evidence and results become available, these are disseminated, leading to adaptive management and scale.
A key part of the process of change is for RSPO to build the business case for sustainable palm oil and ensure that ongoing research is conducted to get more evidence on RSPO impacts and drive continuous improvement.
With increased market uptake and improved enabling environment, there are more markets, new actors engaged and institutional support.
As more companies adopt the RSPO Principles & Criteria, and transparency and inclusion progresses, there are more growers, hectares, and volumes of certified sustainable palm oil.
Biodiversity, or the variety of life, forms the foundation of the health of ecosystem services and allows for ecosystems to adjust to disturbances (resiliency). Conservation of biodiversity includes the preservation of rare, threatened, and endangered species, and preservation of HCV areas.
Ecosystem services enhanced
Essential ecosystem services from natural and managed ecosystems are preserved, contributing to planet and people well-being. These include clean air and water, food, fuel, and culture.
Land degradation neutrality
A state whereby the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services, and enhance food security remain stable or increase (SDG 15.3.1), considering land productivity, land cover and change, and carbon stocks.
Sustainable land use planning
National/subnational practices and technologies integrate the management of land, water, biodiversity, and other environmental resources to meet human needs while ensuring the long-term sustainability of ecosystem services and a competitive, resilient palm oil sector.
Agency and voice
All rights holders (e.g. workers, communities, women, migrants, indigenous people, vulnerable populations, etc.) can activate, access, and claim their rights through their engagement in palm oil production and trade.
Inclusive access to benefits
Economic, social, and environmental value accrues to all involved in the palm oil sector.
Communities and companies in harmony
There is dissolution of disputes and grievances between communities, palm oil growers, and other actors in the palm oil sector, which are replaced by shared understanding, dialogue, and amicable and peaceful resolution.
Sustainable and resilient businesses
Businesses of all sizes and scales can compete in the long-term and weather economic shocks.
Level playing field
Consistent, unbiased, and equitable policies and systems for all actors provide clarity of the rules and define the spirit of participation. A level playing field requires consistent application of rules and their enforcement. This creates a situation of fair competition, access to markets and finance, and opportunity for all.
Sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction
Human rights protected, respected and remedied
The palm oil sector protects and improves rural livelihoods, equality, and social well-being. Human rights are respected. People participate in processes that affect them with shared access and benefits. Everyone engaged in palm oil production has equal opportunities to fulfil their potential in work and community, with dignity and equality, and in a healthy working and living environment.
Competitive, resilient, and sustainable sector
Sustainable palm oil reaches its full potential in terms of contributing to innovative economies and accelerated prosperity, and as a model for green and inclusive growth for emerging economies. A sustainable, competitive, and resilient palm oil sector ensures long-term viability of the entire supply chain and shared benefits for the private sector, as well as the livelihoods of the people and communities where palm oil is grown.
Conserved, protected, and enhanced ecosystems that provide for the next generation
Ecosystems and their goods and services are conserved, protected, enhanced, and made resilient through sustainable consumption, production, and management of natural resources [sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation, halting biodiversity loss (SDG 15)]. Climate change is addressed through continuous GHG reductions, and air and water pollution are controlled.
Resilient & healthy landscapes & communities
Protection and restoration of resources, and people have the means to provide for themselves and advocate for their rights.
Green & inclusive growth
Sustainable palm oil is a driver for economic growth and development at the local, regional, and national level, ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which well-being relies. Benefits accrue to all involved.
RSPO and its members engage in an ongoing effort to always better tools, systems, services, processes, transparency, delivery, and the organisation.
RSPO and its members seek solutions that meet new requirements, challenges, unarticulated needs, and opportunities.
Ensuring all aspects (leadership, programmes, staff, strategies, management) of the RSPO organisation and RSPO stakeholders are synched and focused with the vision, goals and priorities to achieve better results and drive impact.
Credibility is established via trustworthiness and expertise. To continue to gain credibility, RSPO and its members (we are all RSPO) can demonstrate this value through transparency, communication, sharing knowledge, and relying on the expertise of its members and partners as well as developing its own capacities.
All types of growers, businesses, supply chain actors, production systems, communities, geographies, NGOs, local authorities, etc., are welcome to be part of RSPO’s vision and missions.
All the actors commit to their contribution to transforming markets.
Recognising the need to work together and making that happen: transformation of markets can’t happen without collaboration.
Commitments are to be fulfilled with a shared responsibility for impact. The expectation of partners and all members is that they actively participate and work together to transform the markets and that there is a mutual and agreed accountability for results.
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Monitoring and evaluating outputs and outcomes
RSPO uses a three-level structure for collecting and assessing data. Level 1 and 2 data form the foundation of RSPO data, as the output of RSPO membership and its certification systems. This is then used as the basis for reporting on RSPO outcomes and impact as a certification standard, and RSPO members’ contribution to the global sustainability landscape. Level 3 centres around data collected from in-depth commissioned and independent research studies, which are used to corroborate and enhance the narrative of our outcomes and impact.
To date, we have collected a large amount of Level 1 and 2 data. We are in the process of collating this data into a coherent series of Impact Indicators that describe RSPO’s outcomes and impact in line with the RSPOTheory of Change three pillars – People, Prosperity and Planet.
To drive the collection of Level 3 data, we have established a Research Agenda, which details priority research questions to help focus, inform and coordinate RSPO’s research work, as well as to foster collaboration with the research community. We also work closely with research institutions in contributing to independently conducted studies. A full list of completed research on the impact of RSPO certification, commissioned by RSPO and independently conducted researchers, can be found in our Research Library.
Photo Credit: RSPO/PT. BGA