‘Teh Tarik’ events promote certified sustainable palm oil

More than 50 people attended the second “Teh Tarik” session of the Sustainable Palm Oil Community (SPOC), hosted by the IOI Group last 16 April 2018. The event aimed to raise awareness among industry players on the importance of adopting and implementing sustainable practices in palm oil production.

The first “Teh Tarik” session was held in November 2017. Such events have helped encourage the adoption of sustainable upstream processes and downstream practices, and ultimately, increased the uptake of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).

Speakers tackle major industry concerns

Three sessions were held during the second “Teh Tarik” event to ensure better coverage of major concerns in the industry. The first session was an update on the European Union (EU) Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and its impact on palm oil trade by Nicolas Dross, head of Trade and Economic Relations, Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia, who shared the position of the EU on the phasing out of biofuels produced from palm oil.

Next, Dr. Sanath Kumaran from the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) shared the organisation’s effort to impose mandatory Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification in Malaysia.

Finally, Joseph Paul of Malaysian human rights organisation Tenaganita moderated a panel discussion on labour issues and rights. The panelists included Izlin Ismail of Sime Darby, Lim Si Siew of Grassroots, and Kamini Visvanathan, social manager of the RSPO Secretariat.

Worker welfare and traceability are shared responsibilities

Visvanathan shared how RSPO Principles & Criteria (P&C) tackle some of the issues relating to foreign workers and income inequality in plantations. While several initiatives were shared on how to avoid violation of labour rights, it was evident that improving the welfare of workers and enhancing traceability in recruiting low-skilled foreign workers are the shared responsibilities of all industry players. The session ended with a sneak preview of the Certification Assessment Tool (CAT) analysis of RSPO and MSPO certification schemes.

SPOC’s second “Teh Tarik” session concluded that greater transparency and traceability along the palm oil supply chain must be achieved, and it is crucial for companies to start working towards RSPO certification.

The SPOC is one of the initiatives launched by the Sustainable Markets Programme (SMP) of WWF-Malaysia to provide a platform for knowledge and information sharing between relevant parties in the palm oil industry. The SMP team is working closely with palm oil industry players to encourage corporations to embark on the sustainable palm oil (SPO) certification journey.

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