Villahermosa, Mexico, February 2024: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Solidaridad Latin America have signed a joint declaration in support of Latin America’s sustainable and inclusive palm oil industry, bolstering efforts to uplift smallholders on the path towards sustainability and certification.

Leveraging its over 50 years of experience in developing inclusive and sustainable value chains, Solidaridad’s programme in Latin America has united efforts of six countries  – Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru –  to work together towards balancing palm oil production with the conservation of natural resources and well-being of communities, focusing on long-term environmental and social responsibility.

With the joint declaration signed on 27 October 2023, the alliance forged between RSPO and Solidaridad will enable the implementation of regional strategies to support oil palm smallholders, including bringing together local, regional, national and international actors to achieve region-wide results. It also seeks to align oil palm farming practices with internationally recognised sustainability standards, such as the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) and the Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard. 

Among the goals of the collaboration are:

  • Implementing digital tools with the same methodology throughout the region to generate a unified overview of smallholders to achieve RSPO Independent Smallholder certification.
  • Strengthening the growth of the RSPO Smallholder Trainer Academy (STA) in Latin America.
  • Supporting each Latin American country in defining the best strategies for advancing the implementation of good practices for sustainable production and RSPO certification.
  • Promoting and strengthening compliance with European Union legislation.
  • Positioning Latin America as a leading region supporting smallholders in compliance with national and international sustainability guidelines.

Unifying the palm oil landscape in Latin America

The agreement aims to unify the strategies of both RSPO and Solidaridad across the Latin American region, sharing knowledge, experience and success stories in the sector.

“We are thrilled to partner with Solidaridad on this critical effort to support Latin America’s sustainable and inclusive palm oil industry,” said Camilo Santos, RSPO Deputy Director for Market Transformation (Latin America). “This partnership marks a pivotal moment in our collective commitment to fostering a sustainable palm oil industry within the region.”

“Our goal is to make Latin America the number one continent in sustainable smallholder oil production,” says Jorge Solano, Project Manager at Solidaridad Mexico. “This agreement unites our sustainable oil palm efforts throughout the region to support oil palm smallholders. By unifying our projects and creating a cohesive platform, we can streamline management and foster a comprehensive approach to sustainable practices.”

Francisco Naranjo, RSPO Technical Director shared, “Through this initiative, our goal is to empower over 1,300 smallholders across 14,600 hectares, guiding them towards sustainability and certification. Together, we champion smallholder livelihoods while prioritising environmental conservation and social responsibility in all our efforts.”

Strengthening regional alliances

The countries comprising Solidaridad Latin America have worked nationally on the sustainability and productivity of the palm oil sector. This agreement will impact each country differently and provide a new channel of communication between them.

“This agreement is very important for both Honduras and Solidaridad, as part of our goals and strategies for the coming years is to support more smallholders working harmoniously with the environment. This involves education and social and cultural practices oriented towards sustainable production,” says Sofía Núñez, Country Manager of Solidaridad Honduras.

Bella Sosa, RSPO Smallholder Manager (Latin America), said “RSPO has collaborated with Solidaridad since its inception; we share the same interests and objectives. Because of this, a framework of reference was needed at the Latin American level, with shared objectives in halting deforestation and promoting conservation, and sustainable production. We aim to concretise these actions at the regional level with this signed agreement.”

Latin America’s sustainability leadership

This joint declaration marks the latest milestone in Latin America’s emerging leadership in sustainable palm oil production, having the highest level of RSPO Certification among palm oil producing regions. Currently, it is the fastest growing region in the world in terms of certification, including smallholder certification.

In October 2023, certified growers and producers in the region hit two million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), representing one-third of the region’s total palm oil production. This landmark achievement reflects the consolidated efforts among certified growers and producers in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru, covering a total of 656,000 hectares of certified land.

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