In line with RSPO’s commitment to continuously engage with and update our members on our standards and requirements, we recently conducted a series of webinars on six key topics to shed light on some of the common procedures and assessments, namely Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), PalmGHG, Decent Living Wage (DLW), Drainability Assessment (DA), Gender Guidance, and the Independent Smallholder High Conservation Value (HCV) Toolkit. The six webinars, held over three weeks from 6 to 23 July, successfully attracted over 1,200 attendees.  

The webinar on FPIC was the first in the series and attracted the most attendees. It covered the importance of its implementation and what members need to take into account to ensure FPIC is conducted effectively, so that members’ operations remain free of conflict.

“I’m delighted to see that the FPIC webinar was well-attended and received positive feedback from the participants. We were able to clarify why FPIC is central to the RSPO’s sustainability standard, how it should be rolled out in operations and explain its importance in agreeing deforestation-free conservation and land use plans for all new expansion of oil palm plantations. Hats off to RSPO for conducting this creative outreach during this movement control period,” said Marcus Colchester, Founder of Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), who spoke on the topic. 

The PalmGHG webinar tackled technical aspects of the latest PalmGHG version 4. The speaker shared the key features of this tool and also explored the do’s and don’ts in complying with Indicator 7.10.1 of the 2018 RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C). This session also featured a step-by-step process on the PalmGHG platform for data entry. 

The DLW session took a deep dive into the concept of decent living wages and how it is being applied in a meaningful way in RSPO certified units. The discussion covered how to conduct an assessment of the prevailing wages and in-kind benefits provided to workers within a Unit of Certification (UoC).

RSPO Human Rights and Social Standards (HRS) Manager, Kamini Visvananthan, who presented on the topic, said, “It was heartening to see so many participants logged in from all around the globe to discuss this topic. The questions asked were also very practical, which shows that there is work being done on the ground in assessing prevailing wages in the respective units of certification.”

For the DA session, three experts from the field provided an overview of the importance of DA and shared their insights on the assessment process. They also touched on the most common issues faced by reviewers, and provided meaningful suggestions for improvements. 

“To have over 100 people joining this one hour session and staying until the end shows that members are very keen to know more about the need for DA. This is a good sign as there are a lot of knowledge gaps among the growers on the correct way to conduct the DA procedure. We will also try to start the training on DA as soon as possible,” said Dato’ Paduka Ir. Hj Keizrul bin Abdullah, Chairperson of the Council of Wetlands International Malaysia. 

The following webinar on Gender Guidance saw speaker Amalia Falah Alam from CNV International discussed gender inclusivity and the challenges faced by the oil palm sector. The adoption of the 2018 RSPO P&C requires oil palm producing companies to align their policies to recognise and integrate gender equality views and practices in their operations. 

“In cases where national laws and regulations relevant to gender inclusivity in palm oil producing countries are not available, it can be tricky, because companies use regulations as the standard of operation. This means that if the national laws and regulations do not require gender inclusion, implementation in the field will be lacking as well. This is why it’s crucial for RSPO to provide clear guidelines to make sure that members can go further or beyond these regulations,” explained Amalia.

Angelica Senders from Fair and Sustainable Consulting, touched on the conceptual frameworks utilised to develop the guidance and provided strategies on overcoming the challenges faced by employers, smallholders, and the community. RSPO HRS Senior Executive, Prasad Vijaya Segaran, introduced the upcoming Gender Guidance and its components, and informed that a public consultation on the guidance will be conducted in August and participants are encouraged to share their suggestions on relevant strategies and good practices. 

The last webinar session was on a topic rarely discussed – the utilisation of the HCV Assessment app. The RSPO Secretariat has been working to ensure that the simplified HCV approach is feasible and accessible to independent smallholders, and provide continuous guidance on using the HCV Assessment app. This session guided independent smallholder group managers and implementing organisations in utilising the app in their management plan. 

"The RSPO Secretariat is grateful and thankful to all the members for their support of our first-ever webinar series on RSPO standards. We had more than 1,200 participants joining us with over 150 attendees in each session. We are overwhelmed with joy and excitement to see our members engaging with us despite the challenges we are all facing during these difficult times,” said Julia Majail, RSPO Standard Development Director.

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