In October 2022, the RSPO initiated its five year review cycle of the 2018 RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) and the 2019 RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard, as required by the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL).

The objective of this process is to review and streamline the production standard to ensure continued relevance and effectiveness in demonstrating that palm oil produced and sold as RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is credible and inclusive. Apart from reviewing the Standard applicable to the production of CSPO and Certified Fresh Fruit Bunch (CFFB), this process also aims to make recommendations on which elements of the revised P&C should be applied to non-grower RSPO Members as part of their Shared Responsibility to promote sustainable palm oil.

Public consultations

The public consultation for the review consisted of two rounds, the first of which was held in November 2022 and the second in June 2023.

The review process involved stakeholders from all the seven sectors through in-person and virtual workshops conducted globally. Alongside these consultations, the RSPO Secretariat has been hosting a series of public webinars and in-person workshops to provide highlights on the revised draft of the P&C and ISH Standard in various languages. These offered clarifications on any questions as well as information on how to participate in the global online commenting platform.

Focus areas – what to expect with the new Standards

A major focus for this latest review cycle has been improving the auditability and implementability of the RSPO Standards in all growers categories.

The following are the highlights of the latest revisions to the RSPO Standards:

On P&C Principle 6 – Respect Workers’ rights and safe working conditions:

  • Equity – Clarity and requirements covering work opportunities to recruitment process
  • Living Wages and Living Conditions – Clarity on Living Wages and elaborated requirements around living conditions within the Unit of Certification (UoC).
  • Forced Labour – More clarity was provided on requirements relating to eliminating forced labour, guided by ILO principles, including topics of reimbursement of recruitment and other costs, debt bondage, workers’ rights and human rights due diligence.
  • Occupational Health and Safety – Focus now is ensuring that the requirements and indicators provide more clarification. Clear requirements ensuring relevant provisions to protect workers from any potential sickness, disease, and injury, particularly on medical provision and PPE (personal protective equipment).

Strengthened Indicators:

  • Positive impact and productivity – Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) review every two years, and social risk and yield management.
  • Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) application – referencing RSPO FPIC Guide, clarity on evident process and progress.
  • Peatland Protection and Management – referencing RSPO Guidance, clarity on protection and management requirements.
  • GHG Emissions and Waste – Monitoring and reporting to identify reduction potential.

Consolidation of Indicators:

  • Grievance Mechanism – consolidated under Principle 2
  • Occupational, Health and Safety – consolidated under Criteria 6.8
  • Integrated Pests and Disease Management – consolidated under Criteria 7.1
  • Soil Erosion & Degradation Management – consolidated under Criteria 7.3

Independent Smallholders:

  • Defined Smallholder – clarity provided on smallholders to distinguish between Independent and Scheme Smallholders.
  • Role of group managers and Independent Smallholders – clarity provided to distinguish respective roles.
  • Strengthened Indicators – elaborated training completion at Eligibility level and strong agreement for People and Planet.

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