Transforming the palm oil industry and minimising tropical deforestation is mission critical to the RSPO. It is urgent work and a challenging and complicated process. Much more needs to be done by all players, and this should apply across the board and not just to a selection of large companies. This means that many more companies will also need to take their first steps and are glad that Greenpeace sees the RSPO as part of those first steps.
Greenpeace calls for companies to use third party verification to implement their 'no deforestation policy' against a sustainability standard and specifically the POIG. RSPO launched RSPO NEXT in February 2016, a set of additional and advanced criteria for sustainable palm oil production to assist companies who wish to exceed current RSPO criteria and implement zero deforestation commitments.
Since the launch of RSPO NEXT on 9 February 2016, subject to certain conditions, RSPO members can also be audited against the RSPO P&C and an additional voluntary set of criteria, which match those covered by POIG:
- No deforestation
- No planting on peatland
- No fire
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
- Respect for smallholders' and workers' rights
- No Paraquat
The RSPO system is built on third party auditing by accredited Certification Bodies, who are themselves audited and monitored by a third party, Accreditation Services International. RSPO NEXT certification will also be implemented in this way.
Greenpeace states that "companies cannot break the link between deforestation and commodity production without going beyond their own supply chains and pushing for sectoral reform". The RSPO fully agrees with this recommendation and regrets that Greenpeace fails to list RSPO among the initiatives which have the potential to "transform the palm oil sector”. RSPO is a multi-stakeholder organisation which includes 2678 members worldwide and is tasked to build consensus among seven different stakeholder groups, including NGOs, growers, processors and traders, manufacturers, retailers and investors. As well as providing a market based approach for sector transformation, the RSPO is actively involved in sectoral reform initiatives and dialogue in both producer and demand countries.
Greenpeace further claims that some manufacturers are still relying on "false solutions such as Green Palm certificates”, a claim which is refuted by RSPO. Green Palm certificates are based on the RSPO Book & Claim supply chain model and can only be issued by mills certified to RSPO P&C. The process of certification is the same as for RSPO Segregated and Identity Preserved palm oil, which are the two options recommended by Greenpeace as "an interim step”.
While the RSPO promotes the physical supply of CSPO, particularly for mature markets, the Book & Claim model of GreenPalm certificates remains an important option for many growers, including smallholders, who can't access the market for physically traded CSPO. GreenPalm certificates link growers and buyers independently of their location. They are also necessary for buyers who want to support sustainable palm oil production but can't source derivatives or other ingredients made from CSPO.
Overall the trend is towards physical CSPO with record sales reported for January 2016, as 162% higher than in January 2015. It is notable that the greatest growth is for Segregated and Identity Preserved CSPO. RSPO NEXT credits will also become available later this year for those companies who want to implement their zero deforestation commitments via a system of third party verification.