Call for questions: How can the RSPO improve the credibility of certified sustainable palm oil?

What would you ask the RSPO about the credibility of its standards?
What would you ask the RSPO about the credibility of its standards?

Related tags Palm oil Sime darby

On Tuesday, palm oil industry representatives will gather in Berlin for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s first ever European summit. FoodNavigator will be there, moderating a discussion on the credibility of RSPO standards – and is looking to include questions from readers.

The palm oil industry has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, for illegal clearing of forest on peat land, thereby releasing harmful greenhouse gases, and destroying habitats of endangered species. These are among the issues that the RSPO aims to address, working with palm oil growers to change unsustainable practices, and encouraging industrial users to buy certified sustainable palm oil.

Certification criteria include protocols for waste management, reducing fertilizer and pesticide use, preserving high conservation value forest, abiding by local laws, respecting community rights, and ensuring minimum labour standards. 

But some have questioned the credibility of its standards, asking whether they go far enough. The standards still allow planting on peat lands and cleared ‘secondary’ forests, for example, and the RSPO has been accused of being too soft on member companies that break the rules.

GreenPalm certificates have been another bone of contention among NGOs and consumer groups, who say that in developed markets at least, companies should have to buy certified sustainable oil, as opposed to GreenPalm certificates, which allow RSPO-certified growers to trade their palm oil for certificates, which are then sold at a premium price. That premium is reinvested in their move toward a fully sustainable supply.

The title of Tuesday’s final afternoon session is The credibility of certified sustainable palm oil and the responsibility of grower members”

Moderated by FoodNavigator editor Caroline Scott-Thomas, we would like to include questions from our readers – and report on the panel’s answers after the event.

Panellists include:

  • Marcello Brito, Commercial and Sustainability Director, Agropalma
  • Adam Harrison, Vice-President of the RSPO Executive Board and Senior Policy Officer, Food and Agriculture, WWF
  • Khairudin Hashim, Group Head, Group Sustainability & Quality Management, Sime Darby Berhad
  • Simon Lord, Vice-President of the RSPO Executive Board and Group Director of Sustainability, New Britain Palm Oil
  • Gan Lian Tiong, Head of Sustainability PT Musim Mas Group
  • Johan Verburg, Member of the RSPO Executive Board  and Coordinator Private Sector, Oxfam Novib
  • Jerome Frignet, Forests Campaign Officer, Greenpeace France

Please include your questions in the comments below.

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Everyone is bias

Posted by Bob Norman,

Bev you are correct I do work for GreenPalm. Please take another look at the questions I raised in respect to the slow uptake of Segregated CSPO. It breaks down into 3 categories - Infrastructure, Supporting non-exporting growers and the really big consumption markets like China & India. I would be really interested in your answers to these simple questions and how segregated supply would work effectively now.

GreenPalm is part of the debate and will work with the RSPO to transform the global market

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Where are the end users

Posted by Phil Roberts,

The session panel is made up of NGOs and Producers. The driver for the change is the end user, driven by the consumer. Without that driver, the producers could continue as they were doing 10 years ago.

Why are there no end users on this panel to highlight their needs, their wants and their aims in pushing the producers to provide the materials they need and within the timescales they demand to ensure continued consumer acceptance of their products - or even the alternatives that they will embrace if the RSPO producers cannot deliver on their promises.

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Public Claims

Posted by Andy Green,

Bob Norman raises valid points and GreenPalm should not be vilified as the cause of these problems. GreenPalm have never once started a slash and burn clearance. However I do believe that both RSPO and GreenPalm need to look long and hard at their apathy towards organisations using misleading the purchase of certificates to make misleading claims regarding palm oil. "80% of our palm oil is sustainable (63% through the use of GreenPalm certificates)" and other such claims are in breach of both RSPO and GreenPalm rules yet nothing appears to be done.

For those in the UK, BM TRADA are hosting a free seminar on September 19th at which this these issues will be discussed and some places are still available.

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