Conference to address the increasingly prominent global role that Latin and North America play in driving the future of sustainable palm oil
Miami, 17 May 2023: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the leading global palm oil sustainability organization, will be hosting the RSPO Inter-American Conference from May 30 to 31,2023 in Miami, USA. Themed, “From Emerging to Thriving: The role of the Americas as leaders in sustainable palm oil,” the conference will bring together key actors from across the Latin America (Latam) and North America palm oil supply chain, including producers/growers; processors or traders; consumer goods manufacturers; retailers; banks and investors; environmental or nature conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and social or developmental NGOs. This will be the first time the RSPO is hosting a conference in the USA.
In recent years, both Latam and North America have recorded strong growth in driving the demand and uptake of RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). Globally, Latam has emerged as the fastest-growing region for RSPO CSPO production, with 35% of total palm oil produced in the region being RSPO Certified as of 2022. Growers in Colombia were the first to obtain RSPO certification in 2010. Thirteen years on, 37 growers from eight other Latam countries including Guatemala, Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Peru, Panama, and Mexico have become RSPO certified. The supply of CSPO in the region continues to grow exponentially, with volumes set to grow from 1.8 million MT to over 2 million MT in 2023. A large portion of production, however, comes from smallholders who continue to face challenges in entering the sustainable palm oil value chain as regulations become tighter. Despite this challenge, the region has seen the recent certification of the first five independent smallholder groups in Colombia and Mexico.
North America, as a buyers’ market, has its own unique challenges and opportunities. End users are often far removed from the source of production, sometimes separated by more than fifteen actors between them and the oil palm producers or farmers, thus making traceability a challenge. Nevertheless, much progress has been made thanks in part to companies like Walmart, The Hershey Company, Cargill, Rich Products, Colgate-Palmolive, Ferrero, The Procter and Gamble Company, Beautycounter, AAK, and BASF that have made aggressive commitments to source and sell RSPO certified sustainable products.
In North America, it is estimated that 82% of all palm oil entering the market is sourced through the four RSPO supply chain models (Identity Preserved, Segregated, Mass Balance and RSPO Credits / Book and Claim), a dramatic increase from 57% in 2019. RSPO membership in North America is also growing faster than in any other region, more than doubling in membership from 350 members in 2017 to 750 members (making up 13% of RSPO membership worldwide). The formation of the North American Sustainable Palm Oil Network (NASPON) in 2017, underpinned by increased involvement from the U.S. and Canadian governments, are continuing to drive the upward trajectory in the demand for RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.
Commenting on the impending conference, Cameron Plese, Head of North America, RSPO, said, “Latam and North America were once considered as “emerging” markets for sustainable palm oil, but both regions are fast becoming global leaders in driving the uptake of RSPO CSPO, proving clearly that there is a robust market for sustainable palm oil.
However, the milestones achieved are not without challenges and this region must lean into a leadership role to turn these challenges into opportunities. The sector is being called to reach greater levels of sustainability, prompted by new regulations around commodity driven deforestation and forced labor, demands for increased traceability of supply chains, and new alternative synthetic sources of palm oil”, added Plese.
The Inter-American conference aims to bring together key actors in the palm oil sector across the Americas to identify new opportunities and collaborations to boost the uptake of RSPO CSPO and to establish RSPO certification as a default requirement in all business models, government policies, and trade deals between the Americas.
A series of panel discussions will feature a line up of eminent speakers such as Joseph D’Cruz (CEO of RSPO), Marie Johansson (Director Product Sustainability at the Colgate-Palmolive Company), Nicolás Pérez Marulanda (Executive President of FEDEPALMA), Kelly Smith (VP Institutional Affairs at Ferrero), Pina Gervassi (Climate and Restoration Director at the Forest Stewardship Council), John Buchanan (Vice President Sustainable Production at Conservation International), María Amparo Alban (Executive Director at ACD CONSULTING), Anita Neville (Chief Sustainability and Communications Officer at Golden Agri-Resources), Susanne Gauster (PhD Social Sciences at Oxfam), Kailee Tkacz Buller (President & CEO of Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils), Jose Roberto Montenegro (President – Tropical Oil Division at AgroAmerica), and more that you can find here.
For all information and updates on the RSPO Inter-American Conference please visit the event website here.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. RSPO is a not-for-profit, international, membership organization that unites stakeholders from the different sectors of the palm oil industry including oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs, and social or developmental NGOs.
This multi-stakeholder representation is mirrored in the governance structure of RSPO such that seats in the Board of Governors, Steering Committees and Working Groups are fairly allocated to each sector. In this way, RSPO lives out the philosophy of the “roundtable” by giving equal rights to each stakeholder group, facilitating traditionally adversarial stakeholders in working together to reach decisions by consensus, and achieving RSPO’s shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm. The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with satellite offices in Jakarta, London, Zoetermeer, Beijing, Bogotá and New York.