- Feature: Does it Pay to Get RSPO-certified? New WWF Study Looks at Costs and Benefits
- Interview: Kjell Lundén-Pettersson, Internal CSR Advisor, Arla Foods
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Does it Pay to Get RSPO-certified? New WWF Study Looks at Costs and Benefits
Business benefits gained from adopting the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria typically outweigh the costs of implementation—in many cases significantly—yet often through unexpected and indirect channels. These are the overarching conclusions of WWF’s Profitability and Sustainability in Palm Oil Production: Analysis of Incremental Financial Costs and Benefits of RSPO Compliance, this first-of-its-kind study for both the palm oil industry and agricultural commodities in general.
“Our research found that many firms who switched to producing sustainable palm oil – which is good for people and the environment – reaped significant return on their investments,” said WWF’s Joshua Levin, the report’s lead author. “In some cases, switching to sustainable production was economically transformative for the business. Producers, buyers, and investors should see sustainable palm oil as a serious business opportunity.”
Following in the footsteps of the RSPO’s recent Growth Interpretation Narrative, a report issued by the RSPO which documented the rise of certified palm oil, WWF’s new research shows that many of the palm oil firms in the study reaped a significant return on their investment in RSPO certification. While potential market premiums often served as the initial impetus for pursuing RSPO certification, each major category of benefits was, in and of itself, capable of outweighing RSPO implementation costs.
“You must have the benefit of the premium up front. That’s the sugar. But ultimately, you will learn that the premium, the short-term benefit, is not the same as the long-term benefit. And the latter is bigger,” says Simon Siburat, Group Sustainability Controller at Wilmar International Ltd.
In the report, primary costs included:
- Land Assessment and Management: Identification, preparation, setting-aside, and active management of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas within plantations, as well as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) costs
- Certification Process: Internal and external audits to verify and help communicate the estate’s improved production standards, as well as corrective actions (capital expenditures)
- Segregation (optional): Additional transport and storage costs for Segregated CSPO
Primary benefits were identified as:
- The reduction of social conflicts as a result of following proper community negotiation steps
- Operational improvements through documentation and better management practices
- Improved staff morale and reduced labour turnover
- Revenues and improved market access
- Access to capital
In relation to operational benefits, two firms reported total yearly pesticide cost reduction of $250,000 and herbicide cost reduction of $73,859 after adopting RSPO standards. One firm was able to quantify a 6% reduction in staff turnover—a key benefit for a mid-sized estate operating in a remote, labour-short region.
For smallholders, productivity gains were typically large―one firm reported a 186% increase in Metric Tonnes of Fresh Fruit Bunches production per hectare per year as a result of implementing RSPO Principles & Criteria.
The report concludes with a number of recommendations. For producers, these include the need not to underestimate the benefits to their businesses beyond simple price premiums, and the payoffs for deploying the RSPO social engagement tools when acquiring new properties, among other benefits. Buyers are reminded of the risks of not committing to purchases of CSPO, as this makes them vulnerable to attacks from civil society. Finally, investors should consider RSPO as both a reputational and business risk management tool.
The report’s research data were collected primarily through in-person interviews with representatives from 8 palm oil production companies operating in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as West Africa. The firms represent a range of large, midsized, and small operators whose certified palm oil and palm kernel oil outputs total 54% of all RSPO certified production.
Produced in collaboration with CDC, the UK’s development finance institution, and FMO, the Dutch development bank, Profitability and Sustainability in Palm Oil Production thus aims to serve as a guide for management decision-making and planning for palm oil producers and investors as they confront the dynamic challenges and opportunities of the sector moving forward.
Kjell Lundén-Pettersson, Internal CSR Advisor, Arla FoodsCan you describe Arla's business? (e.g. countries, customer base, market share, core business) What is your role at Arla?
Arla Foods is a dairy cooperative owned by 7,700 Swedish, German and Danish farmers. Arla produces a wide range of dairy products—fresh liquid milk, yogurts and fermented products, butter, cheeses, milk powders and specialized whey protein powders. Arla exports to more than 100 countries, has sales offices in 30 countries and produces in 12 countries. Core markets are UK, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland and Finland. Globally our customers are both retailers and food processors. Net revenue in 2011 was approximately DKK 55 billion [Ed: approx. US$9.6 billion].
What role does Arla play in the global soy industry? How much and what kind of soy does Arla use? Where does it source soy from presently?
Arla Foods buys very little soy (lecithin and soy oil), which is used as ingredients in our products. This soy comes from North America. But as soy forms part of cows' feed, Arla Foods has taken a position on soy together with cooperative members. We estimate that cows producing milk for Arla Foods in 2011 consumed app. 300,000 tons of soy, which the dairy farmers buy from the feed industry. According to that industry, the soy for cows' feed comes from Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia.
What commitment has Arla made to the RTRS and why? What actions will the company take to realize this commitment? What are the reasons behind your newly revised and more ambitious commitment?
Arla Foods’ first decision on soy was made in June 2010. Since then we have learned more about soy production, we have seen greater interest from some producers and more companies, and even entire countries are now setting ambitions to enhance the demand. We therefore decided to reopen our discussion on soy, which led to an even more ambitious commitment: By 2015, all soy used for cows' feed at farms producing milk for Arla must meet the RTRS standard. To support the process we will engage in dialogue with the national feed industry in each country, and in 2012 we will support the transformation by buying RTRS certificates equivalent to 30% of the soy used for cows' feed in Sweden and Denmark. Sixty-six percent of the milk Arla uses originates from these 2 countries.
What are the opportunities and challenges that Arla sees for the growth of the RTRS in the coming years?
Today the soy issue is getting more attention, and companies and consumers seem to have realized that soy production can have a negative impact on nature, animals and people. This attention will drive more demand for responsible soy, and if the RTRS continues to be a reliable multi-stakeholder organization, the RTRS standard can be a solution to transform larger quantities of soy into responsibly produced soy. This also requires RTRS to constantly develop the standard further. The GM issue, and the critics accusing the RTRS standard of being too weak and not ambitious enough, are clear threats to the growth of the RTRS standard.
What advice/inspiration might Arla give to other buyers of soy who also seek to be more responsible?
It is important for a company to learn a lot about soy production at an early stage. More knowledge will help to inform the thorough discussions that are needed internally before deciding on the way forward for more responsible soy. And it is important that the top management in the company understands the dilemmas and consequences of that decision, and supports the ambition once a decision have been taken.
India, one of the major markets needed to tip the global market for sustainable palm oil, is beginning to show early signs of corporate interest in sourcing palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). HUL (Hindustan Unilever), a long-term member of the RSPO, is the one of the main player in the Indian market so far to procure certificates from GreenPalm’s Book & Claim system.
Indian companies are also planning to review their procurement policies in line with the global trends and forecast for palm oil imports. Key palm oil buyers in the market, Godrej Industries Limited, VVF and Kamani, all members of the RSPO, have shared their intention to support certified sustainable palm oil in the near future.
Mr Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO of WWF-India said, “We are pleased that Godrej Industries has announced that they will be buying GreenPalm certificates in the near future. We believe that this is a positive first step that will encourage other key players in the industry to move towards sustainable palm oil procurement.”
Godrej’s announcement was made during an event in Delhi on February 21—Promoting Sustainable Palm Oil in India—which was organized by WWF-India and the RSPO. Attending the event were 30 companies representing a cross-section of the Indian palm oil industry, including retailers, brands, refiners/processors, financial institutions, NGOs, and Indian producers.
India is the largest consumer and importer of palm oil in the world, with more than 90% of palm oil used as cooking oil, while the rest is used in processed foods and items like soaps, chocolate, ice-cream, cosmetics and cleaning agents, etc.
Fires raging in an Indonesian swamp forest in the province of Aceh may have killed a third of Sumatran orangutans living there, and all of them may be lost this year, conservationists have warned.
The Tripa swamp forest in Aceh province is home to the world’s densest population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. About 200 still live there, out of a world population estimated at 6,600. It is also home to tigers and bears.
Tripa forest — though officially protected — is hemmed in by palm oil plantations. One of those belongs to Kallista Alam, which was granted a permit to expand last year by Aceh’s Governor Irwandi Yusuf, despite breaching Indonesia’s moratorium on new licenses in primary natural forests and peat lands. Cloud-free images from December show only 12,267 hectares of Tripa’s original 60,000 hectares of forest remains, according to the Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem. The rest has been broken up and degraded as palm oil companies drain the swamp,
The number of orangutans killed in recent months must be at least approaching 100 or more, the groups estimated, while about 100 others perished between 2009 and 2011—either killed in the conversion process or due to starvation and malnutrition.
Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) has filed both a criminal complaint and a lawsuit against Kallista Alam, but the Aceh Administrative Court has dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, arguing that WALHI should have first sought a settlement with the palm oil company that is clearing the forest area. An appeal is likely.
Indonesia and Malaysia are strongly protesting against a clause in the US government’s draft policy on renewable energy linked to palm oil. They are specifically concerned about a recent analysis by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which resulted in biodiesel produced by palm oil not qualifying as a renewable fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
The chairperson of the Indonesia Palm Oil Committee (KMSI), Rosediana Soeharto, questioned the Notice of Data Availability of the Environmental Protection Agency's (NODA EPA) claims that palm oil produced in Indonesia fails to meet the 20% standard green house gas (GHG) reduction limit and therefore is not qualified as a renewable energy source.
In order to calculate lifecycle GHG emissions, the EPA utilised models which took into account energy and emissions inputs for fuel and feedstock production, distribution and use, as well as economic models that predict changes in agricultural market. Opponents of the ruling state that the data used for analysis was out-of-date and projected high deforestation rates in Malaysia and Indonesia.
"As a major palm oil producer, Indonesia is concerned about the US policy as the potential biofuel market in that country is huge," she said, adding that the potential biofuel export to the US could reach between 2 to 3 million tonnes a year, with the projected US biofuel demand from various kinds of vegetable oils reaching 400 billion gallons (1,514 billion litres) by 2022. The US is not a major crude palm oil export market for Indonesia – exports currently amount to about 56,250 tonnes.
The Government of Indonesia sited the latest research by the RSPO on the emissions from palm oil production as part of its evidence to the EPA.
A discussion on which agri-business incentives would contribute most to the economy and environmental sustainability took place in late February in Jakarta, bringing together the Ministry of Agriculture, the European Union Delegation to Indonesia, the United Kingdom Department of International Development and WWF-Indonesia.
The first session of the Conference on Incentives for Sustainability in Agri-business focused on green governance trends and policy initiatives, with presentations from the Vice Minister of Finance, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, the European Union Delegation and WWF-Indonesia.
A second session highlighted profitable green business opportunities by Musim Mas and the consultancy Winrock. Bank Nasional Indonesia (BNI) unveiled its 20% green credit portfolio, 13% of which consists of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)-certification holders such as Musim Mas, BW Plantation, and Smart.
At the end of the Conference, the Vice Minister of Agriculture Rusman Heriawan declared the establishment of a Sustainable Agri-business Task Force under the stewardship of the Ministry of Agriculture, to pilot the scaling up of policy, financing and other incentives mechanisms. The Task Force will involve the private sector, business chambers, the Government of Indonesia (Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Trade, and Ministry of Finance), banks/ financial institutions, international donors and civil society, including WWF-Indonesia.
Brazilian Parliament Postpones Decision on Forest Code
In early March the Brazilian parliament postponed a decision on relaxing the country’s long-standing Forest Code—the law that has helped to protect large areas of the Amazon and other forests for years.The decision follows a wave of public protests, with thousands of people marching to the front of the National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil. The participants asked president Dilma Roussef to veto the Forest law reform if it passes through the parliament.
During the next deliberation, the House of Representatives can approve the bill as modified and approved by the Senate; vote again on the original version the House approved the first time; or approve the text as it has been suggested by a representative, which has not yet been presented.
"None of the versions serves Brazil’s interests. They are all extremely damaging to the country. By approving any of the versions, the Congress will be turning its back on society", declared WWF-Brazil CEO Maria Cecília de Brito.
WWF-Brazil is part of the Brazilian Committee in Defence of the Forests and Sustainable Development, a union of more than 180 Brazilian civil society organizations that is calling for a complete veto of the proposed bill.
"We believe a veto to be the only admissible political attitude open to President Dilma Rousseff that will be consistent with her election campaign promises when she publically and formally committed herself to vetoing any legislation that fostered amnesties or stimulated more deforestation," the committee wrote in a public letter.
RSPO 8th General Assembly Concludes with New Vision and Measures
The RSPO concluded its 8th General Assembly (GA8) in Kuala Lumpur on March 8th with a bold revamped vision and new resolutions to deal with members who are not complying with the roundtable’s standards.The new RSPO Vision Statement reflects the organization’s shift from its original orientation as a standard setting body to one that seeks to transform a global commodity market: “RSPO will transform markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm.”
RSPO members voted in favour of another notable measure which stipulates that ordinary members in the category of growers, traders/processors, consumer goods manufacturers and retailers will be required to submit to the Secretariat a time bound plan to produce, trade, process and/or purchase and use 100% CSPO prior to the 9th General Assembly. The resolution also asked the RSPO to clarify what it expects from other ordinary members in the NGO and finance categories, to demonstrate that they too are promoting sustainable palm oil. All measures addressed at the meeting are listed on the RSPO website.
“The agreement on the resolutions today certainly marked a significant progress for all RSPO members in continuing their efforts in achieving our collective goals in their respective markets. We hope that the adopted resolutions will bring our members to working together more closely and effectively towards sustainability,” RSPO Secretary General Darrel Webber concluded.
GA8 is held annually in accordance with the RSPO Statues and by-laws to discuss on-going resolutions that need to be deliberated and decided by all of the RSPO ordinary members.
Industrial Palm Oil Production Expands at Expense of Rainforests in Peru
Intensive palm oil production is expanding at the expense of biologically-rich lowland rainforests in the Peruvian Amazon, reports a study published in Environmental Research Letters. The research indicates that the oil palm industry is also causing deforestation outside of Southeast Asia.
"Low-yield plantations accounted for most expansion overall (80%), but only 30% of their expansion involved forest conversion, contrasting with 75% for high-yield expansion," wrote the authors, referring to data from a focus area in the Ucayali region. The findings indicate that contrary to claims sometimes advanced by the palm oil industry, intensification is not helping reduce pressure on forests.
"The results show that high-yield agriculture is an important but insufficient strategy to reduce pressure on forests," the authors write. "We suggest that high-yield agriculture can be effective in sparing forests only if coupled with incentives for agricultural expansion into already cleared lands."
The researchers weren't able to definitively determine why industrial plantations targets old-growth forest areas, but suggest — based on conversations with local residents — that disputes over already-cleared land are likely a factor.
In a global context, Peru is a minor palm oil producer. But over the past decade, the government has boosted incentives for production, including tax breaks and a biofuel target. The high profitability of the crop means expansion is expected to continue
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The report confirms the upward trend in the supply and sale of sustainable palm oil, since the certification of the commodity was first launched by the RSPO in 2008. From 2009 to 2011 supply of CSPO has increased by 250% while sales volume has grown by over 6 times, approximately 620%. According to the report, the year-on-year supply of CSPO in 2011 increased by 73%, reaching 4,798,512 metric tonnes compared to 2,773,567 metric tonnes in 2010, while year-on-year sales volume increased by a whopping 94%.
Historical Analysis and Projection of Oil Palm Plantation Expansion on Peatland in Southeast AsiaThis study from the International Council on Clean Transportation demonstrates that the area of industrial oil palm plantations in the peatlands of insular Southeast Asia (Malaysia and Indonesia, except the Papua provinces) has increased drastically over the past 20 years. According to the study, the 2010 extent of oil palm plantations on peatland may nearly double to 4.1 million ha by 2020. Researchers have investigated whether expanding oil palm plantations on peat in Indonesia would be constrained by local regulations, and whether competing agricultural uses of peatland could limit oil palm expansion. The findings indicate that none of these factors would limit oil palm expansion up to 2030 in most areas reviewed, and that a possible slowdown in districts where a “shortage” of peatland may occur could easily be offset by a further acceleration in other regions. The authors conclude that projected oil palm expansion may indeed become reality.
Environmental and Social Impacts of Oil Palm Plantations and their Implications for Biofuel Production in IndonesiaThis paper published in Ecology & Society reviews the development of oil palm with linkages to biofuel in Indonesia and analyzes the associated environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Research findings using 3 plantation study sites indicate that the development of oil palm in all sites has caused deforestation, resulting in significant secondary external impacts such as water pollution, soil erosion, and air pollution. In terms of social impacts, many stakeholder groups, i.e., employees, out-growers, and investing households, report significant gains. However, the authors found these benefits were not evenly distributed. Other stakeholders, particularly traditional landowners, experienced restrictions on traditional land use rights and land losses. They also observed increasing land scarcity, rising land prices, and conflicts over land in all sites.
Decoupling of Deforestation and Soy Production in the Southern Amazon During the Late 2000sA sharp drop in deforestation has been accompanied by an increase in food production in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, reports this new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. This study combined satellite data with government deforestation and production statistics to assess land-use transitions and potential market and policy drivers associated with these trends. In the forested region of the state, increased soy production from 2001 to 2005 was entirely due to cropland expansion into previously cleared pasture areas (74%) or forests (26%). From 2006 to 2010, 78% of production increases were due to expansion (22% to yield increases), with 91% on previously cleared land. Declining deforestation coincided with a collapse of commodity markets and implementation of policy measures to reduce deforestation. Soybean profitability has since increased to pre-2006 levels whereas deforestation continued to decline, suggesting that anti-deforestation measures may have influenced the agricultural sector. This study provides evidence that reduced deforestation and increased agricultural production can occur simultaneously in tropical forest frontiers, provided that land is available and policies promote the efficient use of already-cleared lands (intensification) while restricting deforestation.
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The Impact of a Corporate Culture of Sustainability on Corporate Behaviour and PerformanceThis Harvard Business School Working Paper investigates the effect of a corporate culture of sustainability on multiple facets of corporate behaviour and performance outcomes. Using a sample of 180 companies, they find that corporations that voluntarily adopted environmental and social policies many years ago – termed as High Sustainability companies – exhibit fundamentally different characteristics from a matched sample of firms that adopted almost none of these policies – termed as Low Sustainability companies. The authors provide evidence that High Sustainability companies significantly outperform their counterparts over the long-term, both in terms of stock market and accounting performance.
Towards Sustainable Palm Oil: a Framework for ActionIn May 2011, the Zoological Society of London, in collaboration with Proforest and the Wildlife Conservation Society, convened a symposium entitled ‘Sustainable palm oil: challenges, a common vision and the way forward’. The aim of this symposium was to bring together leading scientists, policy makers, companies and NGOs to present the latest science and discuss effective policies, tools and practice for increasing the sustainability of global palm oil production. This publication is based on the proceedings of the symposium.
How Can Palm Oil Be More Sustainable?This video by WWF explains how the RSPO functions, and how WWF works with the organization.
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Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business has launched a new range of sustainable coatings and fillings for the European market, offering UTZ Certified cocoa powder and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified palm and palm kernel products. Cargill is a founding member of the UTZ Certified Program for cocoa, which aims to create an open and transparent supply chain for cocoa, and has been a member of RSPO since 2004.
Use of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) now represents 21% of all palm oil used in the Netherland’s food industry, according to a report released by the Dutch Task Force on Sustainable Palm Oil. The Dutch Task Force is an initiative of the Dutch Product Board MVO (for margarines, fats and oils) committed towards pushing use of sustainable palm in the Netherlands. The report also showed that in 2011, 19 Dutch organisations joined RSPO along with a large number of companies committing to 100% sustainable palm oil use by 2015.
Friesland Campina, March 27 2012
FrieslandCampina was presented with the Task Force on Sustainable Palm Oil Award by the Task Force on Sustainable Palm Oil. The award was presented to FrieslandCampina because of its switch to sustainable palm oil in 2011. The press release notes that FrieslandCampina scored highly in WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard.
Foodmanufacture.co.uk, March 16 2012
New Britain Palm Oil (NBPO) aims to double UK production of palm oil from 150,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes by the end of the first quarter of 2013. In this effort, it is investing significantly to expand the volume and variety of sustainable palm oil available to UK food manufacturers.
Belgium Palm Oil Market Pledges to Become Sustainable By 2015
Just-food.com, February 3 2012
All palm oil present in food products destined for the Belgian market has to be sustainable by 2015, according to an industry pledge by Belgian food and oil manufacturers who have joined in a new partnership. The body’s charter states that the members will only use palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and that the palm oil traded will conform to one of the 3 RSPO-approved trading systems: Segregated, Mass Balance or Book & Claim.
Warburtons Makes Sustainable Palm Oil Pledge
Supply Management, January 6 2012
The British baking firm has set out the goal of achieving 100% sourcing of sustainable palm oil by 2015. The business uses approximately 1,000 tonnes of palm oil each year, which it claims is ‘essential’ to the baking process.
Twincraft first North American Bar Soap Manufacturer Certified to Make RSPO-Certified Bar Soaps
Twincraft Soap Company is the first and only North American private label bar soap manufacturer to receive facility certification for the production of RSPO certified bar soaps. Bar soap manufactured at Twincraft with any one of the RSPO certified bases may now use the RSPO certified sustainable logo on the packaging. Twincraft Soap is a world-class private label soap manufacturer that produces quality and innovative specialty bar soap products for a diverse customer base.
The article reports on recent efforts to tackle the environmentally damaging impacts of agriculture, from merging REDD initiatives with a series of 'commodity round tables', to the Governors' Climate and Forests Task Force—mechanisms that would allow companies in participating regions to offset emissions by paying to reduce deforestation.
UK supermarket chain Morrison’s has dropped its GM-free feed requirement for poultry meat and eggs, as it looks towards strengthening its focus on sustainability. The move follows years of industry lobbying, after supermarkets unilaterally banned all GM in poultry feed in 2001, even though they continued to allow it in other livestock rations.
Indonesia is set to become the world’s largest palm oil producer in the near future, driven by increased production of locally certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) and a higher number of local palm oil producers taking part in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). A number of Indonesian plantations, including plasma growers, had been audited by the RSPO since the end of 2011, and would lead to a significant rise in local CSPO output.
'Don't Single Out Palm Oil'Business Times, March 26 2012
Nick Xenophon, who backs Australia's Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling - Palm Oil) Bill 2010 agreed that all vegetable oils—not just palm oil—such as soybean and rapeseed should also be labelled. The Bill, which is still under consideration at the Australian Parliament, requires palm oil to be labelled in all Australian food products. It also implies that palm oil produced from legitimate agricultural land that was once forest has to be separately labelled.
WENGOs and “Them” Versus “Us”CSR-Asia.com, March 21 2012
This opinion piece delves into the negative attitude of some palm oil industry players with regards to NGOs (Western and others). The author advocates for “a forward looking industry that must engage and create partnerships to counter the many unreasonable attacks aimed at its constituents.”
Scientists Say Massive Palm Oil Plantation will "Cut the Heart out" of Cameroon's RainforestMongabay.com, March 15 2012
Eleven scientists have slammed a proposed palm oil plantation in a Cameroonian rainforest surrounded by 5 protected areas. In an open letter, the researchers allege that Herakles Farm, which proposes the 70,000 ha plantation in southwest Cameroon, has misled the government about the state of the forest to be cleared and has violated rules set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), of which it's a member.
Palm Oil: the Hidden Ingredient Causing an Ecological DisasterThe Ecologist, March 14 2012
The article provides a broad overview of the environmental and social impacts of the palm oil industry, and several views on the potential of certification schemes to bring the industry on a path toward sustainability.
Bid to Lift EU Duties on Sustainable Palm OilThe Star Online, March 2 2012
The Netherlands is pushing for the lifting of European Union (EU) import duties on sustainably produced crude palm oil at the European Commission. The current levies are seen as inhibiting farmers and businesses in palm oil producing countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia in increasing sustainable production.
EU ‘Boycott’ of Indonesian Palm Oil is a Lie, Envoy SaysThe Jakarta Post, March 1 2012
Debunking media reports and statements made by spin doctors, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Julian Wilson says Indonesian palm oil enjoys unrestricted access to the European markets and is growing at an annual rate of over 20%. Julian said policy-makers should not waste time on dealing with what he termed as “lies” and not be diverted from the real issues: Persuading consumers that a great product and industry could be in harmony with the environment.
Liberia Land Deals with Foreign Firms 'Could Sow Seeds of Conflict'The Guardian, February 29 2012
Small farmers are losing their livelihoods as Sime Darby, a palm oil producing company, expands its plantations in Liberia, according to a report from the Centre for International Conflict Resolution (CICR). The 3-month study found that lack of consultation on the investment projects of Sime Darby and other companies had resulted in "high tension" among communities.
“Designer Plants” May Help Meet Global Demand for Palm Oil and Avoid DeforestationCIFOR Forests Blog, February 28 2012
Malaysian scientists now have the ability to trace for high oil-yielding genes in the palm oil plant, allowing them to create “designer palms” with the capacity to control the amount and type of oil being produced.
SBY Tells Diplomats to Push Indonesia’s Palm Oil AgendaThe Jakarta Post, February 24 2012
Demanding that Indonesian embassies send him annual reports, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono specifically highlighted the increase in calls from international groups to boycott Indonesia’s palm oil as an issue that ambassadors would need to address.
Green Palm Oil Output Likely to Surpass 5 MT in 2012The Hindu Business Line, February 23 2012
A likely increase in Chinese demand could push the global production of green palm oil to over 5 million tonnes this year, according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The production is likely to improve as demand from China — the world’s second biggest palm oil importer — for green palm oil is expected to surge, according to Darrel Webber, RSPO Secretary General.
Palm Oil Mills Target Zero EmissionsThe Star, February 21 2012
The palm oil industry in Malaysia is conducting research to develop low-emission technologies, with the zero-discharge plant as one concept in development. The Department of Energy is now pushing through some stricter requirements on how the industry disposes of its effluents.
Forest Clearing Blamed on Local GovernmentThe Jakarta Post, February 16 2012
Bad governance has undermined efforts to halt Indonesia’s deforestation, according to the Indonesian Forestry Ministry’s Director General of Forestry Business Development. Indonesian and European Union Forest Law Enforcement official Andy Roby added that local officials could issue temporary licenses, which meant companies could clear land without proper environmental impact assessments and without the ministry finding out until the forest had been cleared.
Palm Oil and Scout Cookies: The Battle Drags OnNew York Times, February 13 2012
Two high school juniors from Michigan have won the first-ever United Nations Forest Heroes Award for leading a campaign to remove palm oil from Girl Scout cookies. Their persistence inspired the Union of Concerned Scientists to nominate them for the United Nations award. Last fall, the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., an organization with 3.2 million members, announced that beginning this year, it would purchase GreenPalm certificates for its cookies and splash the GreenPalm logo on the boxes.
Keresa Plantations Sees Boost in Sustainable Palm Oil production with RSPO, Local Smallholder CooperationBorneo Post Online, February 10, 2012
Sarawak oil palm planter Keresa Plantations Sdn Bhd (Keresa Plantations) has seen improved efficiency as well as productivity in fresh fruit bunch output thanks to guidance from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as well as co-operative efforts with smallholders. To maximise the productivity of the plantation, the company approached the RSPO whose guidance and requirements helped it to improve sustainability, help the local people within the area and gave it added advantage once it was RSPO certified.
Editorial: Palm Oil’s Carbon FootprintThe Jakarta Post, February 8 2012
Referring to recent developments with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s policy decision to exclude palm oil-based biodiesel from its renewable fuel programme, the author argues that Indonesia’s reputation is still notorious as a result of “years of reckless oil-palm expansion at the expense of sustainable forestry management.”
Dutch Industry Body Sees Flat 2012 Palm Oil DemandReuters, February 7 2012
European Union palm oil imports will be steady in 2012 as the economic downturn offsets attractive prices, and more biodiesel producers are expected to go under, says a Dutch industry insider. Frans Claassen, head of the Dutch Board for Margarine, Fats and Oils, said that demand in the European Union for palm oil is likely to remain around 5.5 million tonnes in 2012, the same as in 2011.
Indonesia to Create Giant Palm Oil, Rubber FirmJakarta Globe, February 3 2012
Indonesia’s government plans to create one of the world’s largest palm oil and rubber firms in March by combining state planters with total assets of $5.6 billion, a government minister said. Analysts said the consolidation of the state firms would produce some economies of scale but would not have a dramatic impact on commodity supply.
Warning of Unrest, New Study Shows Millions Risk Losing Lands in AfricaEureka Alert, February 1 2012
New studies suggest that the ‘sell-off’ of forests and other prime lands to buyers hungry for the developing world's natural resources risk sparking widespread civil unrest—unless national leaders and investors recognize the customary rights of millions of poor people who have lived on and worked these lands for centuries.
Sinar Mas Claims It’s Part of the Solution When It Comes to Sustainable Palm OilJakarta Globe, January 27 2012
Sinar Mas, one of Indonesia’s largest palm oil producers, claims to be spearheading new models of sustainable agriculture in the country in partnership with global giants such as Nestlé. This is according to Franky Widjaja, chief executive of Sinarmas Agribusiness and co-chairman of the Partnership on Indonesian Sustainable Agriculture, which has the goal of improving agricultural productivity by 20% while reducing poverty and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
Habitat Loss Drives Sumatran Elephants Step Closer to ExtinctionPanda.org, January 24 2012
An immediate moratorium on habitat conversion is needed to secure a future for Sumatran elephants, according to WWF. The Sumatran elephant has been uplisted from “endangered” to “critically endangered” after losing nearly 70% of its habitat and half its population in one generation. The decline is largely because of elephant habitat being deforested or converted for agricultural plantations. In Sumatra’s Riau Province, where pulp and paper industries and oil palm plantations are causing the some of the world’s most rapid rates of deforestation, elephant numbers have declined by a staggering 80% in less than 25 years.
Conservation on the Front Line – Muara Tae’s Last Stand Against Big Palm OilEcoseed.org, January 24 2012
The fate of a Dayak community deep in the interior of East Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) demonstrates how Indonesia must safeguard the rights of indigenous people if it is to meet ambitious targets to reduce emissions from deforestation. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the Dayak Benuaq of Muara Tae, in West Kutai, face assault from palm oil companies expanding into their ancestral forests.
RSPO to Certify 20% of CPO Output by 2015The Jakarta Post, January 18 2012
Indonesia’s certified palm oil production is expected to reach about 5.6 million tonnes by 2015, or one-fifth of its total palm oil output throughout the year, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) estimates. The plantations will include those run by the country’s major palm oil firms, such as Sinar Mas, Musim Mas, Bakrie Sumatra Plantation, London Sumatra Plantation and Sampoerna Agro. This year alone, the country’s certified sustainable palm oil will rise by 52.83 % to 3.5 million tonnes, increasing its contribution by 9% to 50% of global output.
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The aim of this event organized by the ProTerra Foundation is to advance sustainability in the soy supply chain by enabling dialogue among thought-leaders from government, finance, academia and industry.
Bringing together stakeholders and solution providers from the public and private sectors, the conference will deliver world class presentations, an exhibition, and panel discussions that engage all conference participants, whilst providing abundant networking opportunities.
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The RTRS is organizing the next International Conference on Responsible Soy under the name “Next Steps for Responsible Soy”, this 7th edition will take place in London. For those who wish to pre-register, registration forms and the different registration fees are available on the RT7 website (see link below).
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