The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Secretariat recently attended the 9th International Greentech & Eco Products Exhibition & Conference Malaysia (IGEM), in Kuala Lumpur from 17 to 20 October, engaging in panel discussions on industry challenges, opportunities and how sustainable palm oil can help contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
The first day of IGEM coincided with the 2nd Palm Oil Sustainability EU-Malaysia International Discourse 2018 by EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EUMCCI). Malaysia’s Minister of Primary Industries YB Teresa Kok, officiated the ceremony as Guest of Honour, commending Malaysian plantations as being the first to achieve RSPO certification back in August 2008, and congratulating Malaysian growers on their combined efforts to improve sustainable practices in a relatively short period of time, thus far.
Responsible financing of the palm oil sector
RSPO Global Outreach & Engagement Director Stefano Savi was a panellist on the session for ‘Responsible Financing and Sustainable Practices in the Palm Oil Industry.’ Stefano spoke of the significant proposed changes to the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C), and more specifically about how the new proposed RSPO Smallholder Standard can help to trigger transformative change on the ground.
He called for European businesses operating throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region to help bridge the gap between smallholders and buyers through platforms such as RSPO Smallholder Engagement Platform (RSEP), and highlighted the recent findings of the ongoing research by Climate Advisers and S-Network Global Indexes.
“This recent study has found that investing in companies engaged in deforestation-related activities poses material risks and produces poor returns for financial institutions. On the contrary, it found that RSPO companies outperformed non-RSPO members on the FTSE Bursa Malaysia Asian Palm Oil Plantation Index (USD) by approximately 6 percent,” he said.
Stefano also mentioned that strengthening capacity building with local banks and financial institutions will be a prominent part of RSPO’s agenda in the coming months.
Palm oil’s role in realising the SDGs
Chief Executive Director (CED) of United Plantations and Co-Chairman of RSPO Board of Governors (BoG), Carl Bek-Nielsen also participated in a panel discussion on ‘The Role of the Palm Oil Industry in Realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).’ He spoke in depth about the SDGs that the palm oil industry is positively contributing to and also called for a commitment to ‘shared responsibility’ in the palm oil industry, as well as other agricultural commodities, if we are to fully realise the SDGs.
A keynote address by H.E. Maria Castillo Fernandez, Ambassador & Head of European Union (EU) Delegation to Malaysia called for solutions and cooperation between Malaysia and Europe.
“The EU and its Member States will continue to cooperate and to support the efforts of Malaysia to minimise environmental impacts that palm oil cultivation can have in order to enhance sustainable production of this commodity,” she said.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment & Climate Change (MESTECC) to create a platform for solution providers and green energy businesses to tap into the ASEAN market by showcasing the latest innovations to policy makers, government organisations, investors and the mass market.