Six parties commit to collaboration in scaling up Surat Thani as the national model city for sustainable palm oil in Thailand
SURAT THANI, 19 AUGUST 2022: Today, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Secretariat and Surat Thani Provincial Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), providing a framework for cooperation and collaboration in support of scaling up Surat Thani as the national model city for sustainable palm oil in Thailand.
The MoU was signed by RSPO Chief Executive Officer, Joseph D’Cruz; Governor of Surat Thani Province, Wichawut Jinto; Chairman of Surat Thani Oil Palm Farmers Association, Chaiwut Jitnupong; Chairman of the Industry Council of Surat Thani Province, Trin Phongphetra; Chairman of the Surat Thani Chamber of Commerce, Jarungsak Suratchananon; and Vice President for Academic Affair at Prince of Songkla University Surat Thani Campus, Assoc. Prof. Suchada Thimontri. Envisioned to align Surat Thani’s efforts towards developing a sustainable palm oil supply chain, it was signed at the Ubon Ratana Rajakanya International Convention Center Surat Thani Cooperative Limited (COOP), in conjunction with PALMEX Thailand 2022.
The province, which is home to hundreds of smallholders, are on a journey to be 100% RSPO certified. Surat Thani and RSPO will work together towards common objectives, including the realisation of sustainable palm oil development, helping stakeholders to secure access to the global market and for responsible palm oil entrepreneurs to obtain premium prices for their certified sustainable products. For farmers, the collaboration is intended to improve their quality of life and ensure continuous compensation.
As such, smallholder coalitions such as the Community Enterprise Network of Sustainable Palm Oil Smallholders in Surat Thani are a role model for palm oil growers in upholding the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C), such as implementing best practices, environmental responsibility and commitment to continuous improvement.
According to Chairman Chaiwut, work is underway to create a better relationship between large palm oil growers and smallholders.
“Becoming a RSPO member will add to sustainability measures being taken seriously in the entire ecosystem. It allows us to understand the responsibility all players possess. This collaboration ensures the knowledge is passed down and careers are made sustainable with the entire supply chain getting what is deserved,” he added.
Future CSPO innovation and technology hub
Currently, Thailand ranks third globally among palm oil producers, with a combined plantation area of 992,000 ha, behind Indonesia (16.2 million ha) and Malaysia (6 million ha). But palm oil prices in Thailand have dropped for the past several years following policy to promote palm oil, which increased plantation area by 960,000 ha. Once supply outstripped demand, palm oil prices fell.
Governor Wichayut said the palm oil city project is aimed at being an innovation and technology hub for local certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), with the expectation of increasing value-added products, decent living wages and access to premium markets.
“Surat Thani is ready to raise ourselves to become a sustainable palm oil city because we have the assistance and cooperation of many agencies – government, private sector, civil society. Let’s come together to drive the development of palm and improve the quality of life for the farmers,” he said.
RSPO CEO Joseph echoed the importance of this partnership, saying “The world is facing rising food prices that are hitting poor and developing countries hardest. It is vital to increase collaboration between nations and international organisations to amplify our impact to better provide solutions.”
“This partnership represents a positive move forward as it allows local stakeholders to collaborate with their governments, providing an ideal path towards sustainability and implementing the best management practices, while curbing the negative impacts of unsustainable practices. In addition, it also enables the approach to solve sustainability problems at the grassroots level; optimising the use of resources and sharing expertise within the jurisdiction.”
Building on comparative advantages and ensuring their complementarity and mutual reinforcement, this partnership will contribute to meeting Surat Thani’s goal to be the national model city for sustainable palm oil. The parties involved will work with palm oil producers, financial investors, and other stakeholders in their jurisdiction to promote sustainable growth and production of palm oil, focusing especially on inclusion by building sustainable models, and helping to increase access to markets for CSPO and market commitment to CSPO. The RSPO will share knowledge from existing case studies on jurisdictional approaches to certification to aid in the alignment of pipeline projects with jurisdictional commitments to RSPO certification.
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 organisation 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.
For further information, kindly contact:
APAC Communications Manager
Thailand – Technical Manager