Forest Conversion News No. 32 - January 2012 | WWF

Forest Conversion News No. 32 - January 2012

Posted on 05 January 2012    
Forest Conversion News focuses on the responsible production of palm oil and soy.



RSPO Annual Meeting Showcases Substantial Progress, Introduces WWF Scorecard

Held in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on November 22 -24, the 9th Annual Meeting (RT9) of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) marked the closing of an eventful year for the organization, which included the milestone of the millionth hectare of palm oil plantation certified according to the RSPO standards for sustainable palm oil production and a new record uptake of certified sustainable palm oil. This positive momentum fuelled the annual meeting attended by 1,000 delegates from 34 countries. Themed “RSPO Certified. Transforming the Market. Together.” the conference was also characterized by the understanding that every stakeholder needs to play its part in helping to tackle the challenges that remain on the journey to transforming the palm oil market.

Steps forward

Several noteworthy sessions highlighted the progress made by RSPO working groups charged with tackling such challenging issues as the High Conservation Value (HCV) methodology in oil palm plantations, the implementation of the New Plantings Procedure, and how to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from the production of palm oil.

A key recommendation that emerged at RT9 was that the RSPO’s Principles & Criteria should include a zero net carbon emission clause, setting a new benchmark for companies that aim to produce palm oil in a responsible manner. For Irwan Gunawan, WWF Indonesia’s Corporate Engagement Manager, "reducing greenhouse gases is a huge challenge facing the industry in the region, and it is a very welcome sign that the RSPO has reached consensus on how to tackle GHGs and made a recommendation to change the organization’s standards to accommodate this critical issue."

As the 8th Annual General Assembly held on November 24th did not achieve quorum, the membership did not finalize decisions on the resolutions prepared for that meeting. The lack of quorum reflects the rapid growth in RSPO membership – particularly amongst manufacturers and processors within the supply chain. Because many of the new members had not registered to attend or to give their votes to proxies who were attending, the RSPO will organise a new General Assembly meeting in early 2012.

RSPO’s Secretary General, Darrel Webber, closed the RT9 conference by commenting on the fact that there was more solidarity between various participants than ever before, and that despite regular complaints about the lack of progress within the RSPO, during the last 3 years, the market penetration of RSPO-certified palm oil increased from 0 to over 5%--a sure sign of improvement.

According to Adam Harrison, Senior Policy Officer for WWF UK and WWF’s representative on the RSPO Executive Board, the new focus of the RSPO on ‘transforming the market’ shows that the “organization is growing up and is starting to deliver on the ambition it set for itself. Nevertheless, in order for the RSPO to deliver on this transformation, companies along the entire value chain need to be more transparent and take control of the oil palm they are producing, trading, using and selling."

A need for transparency in the industry

This observation was also one of the conclusions of the WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard, launched on November 22 at RT9, which argues that unless there is greater transparency, oil palm growers will remain unwilling to commit to certification.

The Scorecard 2011—an update of the first scorecard published by WWF 2 years ago—measures over 130 major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers by looking at their commitment to, and use of, palm oil certified to the internationally recognised standards of the RSPO.

One of the Scorecard’s key findings is that only half of the palm oil used by the companies assessed is sustainable, showing that the road ahead for RSPO to achieve a new vision to transform the palm industry into one where sustainability becomes an everyday practice for all will be a daunting one—although far from impossible.

No excuses

Indeed, it has never been easier for companies to be responsible about the palm oil they use. “The leading companies in the Scorecard demonstrate that it is possible to source certified sustainable palm oil to cover most or all of their palm oil usage, so there are no excuses for all companies not to take action now,” says Harrison.

The Scorecard, which assesses both RSPO members and non members, also shows that 87 of the 132 companies (i.e. 66%) surveyed have committed to sourcing 100% RSPO-certified palm oil by 2015 or earlier, an encouraging sign that could spur further market development. The Scorecard also showed that most of the companies scored in both 2009 and 2011 have taken some strides forward, showing how the use of sustainable palm oil is slowly becoming more mainstream. 

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Mark Mills, Sustainable Palm Oil Investor Working Group

Mark is a Partner with Generation Investment Management (GIM) and is responsible for developing and managing GIM's business relationships in Europe, Australia and Asia.

Can you explain what is the Investor Working Group and what is your role in it?
The Sustainable Palm Oil Investor Working Group (IWG) is a grouping of investment organizations, representing assets under management of over $1.4 trillion, which are members of the United Nations backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and support the development of a sustainable palm oil industry through the work of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). I am one of the founders of this group and currently its chairman.

Why is the IWG interested in sustainable palm oil in particular?
The members of this group are invested in different segments of the palm oil valuation chain and believe it is in our long-term financial interest to have our investee companies support the development of a sustainable palm oil industry by producing or purchasing sustainable palm oil. As investors we are well aware of the long-term linkages between natural capital and financial capital. If palm oil is cultivated in concert with unfettered clearing of forests, destruction of biodiversity and massive emissions of carbon then we deplete our natural capital. Adoption of sustainable practices aims to avoid these and other negative aspects.

Furthermore the RSPO is one of the first multi-stakeholder groups for sustainable production to be established and if we can help this to be successful then it bodes well for multi-stakeholders for other agricultural commodities that have been established in more recent times.

What would you like investors do to achieve your vision? What does the RSPO and its members need to do?
We would like all investors in the palm oil value chain to support this initiative as it sends a very strong signal to those entities deploying capital in this industry. When one joins the RSPO one signs up to a set of particular commitments. Of course it is important for the credibility of the RSPO, and the notion of sustainable palm oil, for those commitments to be met and we would like to see all members exhibit greater transparency and disclosure on their progress towards meeting these commitments.

Can you share any success stories whereby investors in palm oil have successfully stimulated more responsible practices in palm oil production or procurement?
Our group has come together in the last year and in November we had the opportunity to make our first presentation to the RSPO forum in Kota Kinabalu. We have been delighted by the positive reception that we received and the willingness of a number of companies to share their progress with us. We are at the early stages of engaging with companies so are cautious not to overstate any results. However we do have within our group some members who have engaged with buyers as separate entities in the past and been successful in encouraging a number of supermarkets to sign up to the RSPO. We are hopeful, therefore, that by working as a collective we can have even greater impact.

Has the WWF Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard been a useful tool?
As investors we value transparency and the Scorecard has been helpful in bringing to light and consolidating information on the progress of retailers and consumer goods manufacturers in their procurement of certified sustainable palm oil.

What other information or initiatives would help?
An exciting development that was presented at the latest RSPO conference was POTICO, an initiative of the World Resources Institute to make terrain types, land use and land use change visible to all via the internet. It utilizes historical and current satellite images and sophisticated graphics to let users interrogate and visualize the changes that are occurring on the ground and creates the potential for future palm oil development to be directed towards areas which are not of high conservation value. If this kind of tool included information on palm oil concessions and existing titles, I believe the additional level of transparency would be helpful for governance and the acceleration of sustainable practices.

What are the next steps for the group?
We have identified a number of companies in the Palm Oil value chain which we are in the process of contacting to explain our position as investors and to seek from them more information about their progress on their procurement or production of sustainable palm oil.

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Looming Amazon Deforestation as Brazil Senate votes to Dismantle Protections

A new law passed by the Brazilian Senate to revise the national Forest Code could open vast new areas of forest to agriculture and cattle ranching, and extend amnesties to illegal deforestation conducted prior to 2008. Areas formerly considered to be too steep or vital to the protection of watersheds and watercourses are among those now open to destruction. WWF estimates that the revised Forest Code will result in the reduction of a forest area as large as Texas.

If signed into law by Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, the updated Forest Code will jeopardize Brazil’s significant environmental achievements of recent years and undermine global efforts to fight climate change and halt biodiversity loss. Of concern in the revised Forest Code is that much of the responsibility for implementation and enforcement of the Code is passed to the States, where large landholders and agribusiness interests have more influence. The changes are also expected to expose poor Brazilians to larger risks from floods and droughts.

Claudio Maretti, leader of WWF’s Living Amazon Initiative, doubts that the new code will be accompanied by sufficient law enforcement."The new draft does not make enforcement any easier. It is more complicated, and has far too many exceptions. Nothing now seems to suggest that this version of the law will be better enforced."

Nearly half of the Amazon lies within indigenous reserves, or state and federal parks where most logging is banned. Private landowners are required to abide by the Forest Code, which requires them to leave the forest standing on part of their farms (four-fifths in the Amazon, less elsewhere), and in particular around the sources and banks of rivers, and on hillsides.

Polls showed a majority of the population opposed to the revision of the Forest Code, with a vocal majority of experts warning that the new version of the law will hinder Brazil’s long-term development. The vote to reform the Forest Code came a day after the Brazilian government released preliminary data showing that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon for the year ending July 2011 fell to the lowest level since annual record-keeping began in 1988. 

Progress of British Retailers on Responsible Soy Captured by WWF-UK

A campaign by WWF-UK asking UK supermarkets to join the 100% Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) soy by 2015 has led to nearly 30,000 e-mails being sent by the public to the supermarkets, urging them to make firm commitments.

Over recent years growing production of soy, which mainly ends up as animal feed and then ultimately in products on supermarket shelves, has put huge pressure on precious ecosystems around the world. One of these is the Cerrado. As much as 21% of Brazil is covered by this savannah, which right now is disappearing faster than the Amazon rainforest.

The UK imports huge amounts of soy, yet at the moment few buyers even know where their soya comes from, let alone if it’s caused habitat destruction along the way. While a number of UK supermarkets generally support sustainable soy, only Waitrose has followed this through by committing to buy 100% RTRS by 2015. WWF believes that RTRS should be the baseline standard for soy globally with an associated process of continuous improvement. 

Dutch Consumers Opt for Responsible Palm Oil

Three quarters of Dutch consumers are concerned about deforestation in Asia caused by the expansion of oil palm plantations and would be willing to make better purchases to prevent deforestation according to a survey carried out by WWF. Moreover, 60% of them would like to be informed whether a product contains responsible palm oil with a recognizable ecolabel on the packaging of the product.

Forty percent of respondents were aware that palm oil is produced in Asia and that it is related to forest loss, with 75% of them worried about the linkages between the vegetable oil and deforestation. Respondents were less aware of the fact that manufacturers can now choose to use sustainably produced palm oil.

The survey also showed that the Dutch public believes that manufacturers and food producers are the stakeholders with the most responsibility for sustainable palm oil, followed by the Dutch government, and then supermarket chains themselves.

Over half of respondents were willing to stop buying products if they do not contain sustainable palm oil, and over a third would ask for products that contain sustainable palm. An equal amount of respondents also said they will pay more for products containing sustainable palm oil. 

Upcoming Review of the RSPO Principles & Criteria

 Five years after the launch of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria (P&C), the global guidelines for producing palm oil sustainably, the Roundtable is planning a review of these standards through a multi-stakeholder consultation process.

The Principle & Criteria (P&C) Review Steering Group, which includes the 3 Chairs of the RSPO standing committees (WWF, Unilever and IOI) as well as representatives from the RSPO secretariat and growers, has split the review into 2 parts.

Phase 1 will end with the P&C Review steering group drawing together the conclusions, lessons or suggestions from the process and feeding them into the next phase.

Phase 2 will focus on improving the effectiveness of the Generic P&Cs: Starting in February 2012, a more tightly focussed review process will look at the effectiveness of the current P&Cs, to be conducted by the P&C Review Task Force established with balanced representation of all RSPO members and drawing on external experts. Drawing on the results of Phase 1 the Task Force will look at the content of the Generic P&Cs and whether they need to be re-drafted.

Stakeholders are asked to submit, by 31st January 2012, short, written comments addressing the question: What is the continuing relevance of the RSPO’s Generic Principle & Criteria to delivering sustainable palm oil?

The RSPO provides a number of questions to help respondents make their submissions. See the webpage

100% responsible soy in The Netherlands within four years

Dutch retailers, traders, feed processors and NGOs in the soy value chain and IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, have jointly announced their intention to work towards 100% responsibly produced soy sourcing by 2015. To achieve this objective, a total of 7 million euro will be invested by the participating parties. The overall objective is to achieve a 100% use of responsible soy for the production of meat, dairy, eggs and other foods in The Netherlands by 2015. Over the next few years, the participating companies aim to purchase increasingly large volumes of responsibly produced soy: 500,000 tons in 2012, 1,000,000 tons in 2013 and 1,500,000 tons in 2014.

Participating organisations include the Dutch Feed Industry Association (Nevedi), The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), FrieslandCampina and other Dutch dairy companies, the Dutch Meat Association, Dutch retailers Albert Heijn, C1000, Jumbo, Lidl, SuperUnie – as central buyer for 13 supermarket chains, farmers’ union LTO Nederland, the Product Board for Poultry and Eggs and the Product Board for Margarine, Fats and Oils. The plan is supported by WWF Netherlands, ‘Natuur & Milieu’ and the Solidaridad development organisation.

Half of the 7 million budget for the initiative will be financed by trade and industry, while the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) will finance the other half.

To support soy farmers in South America to comply with the principles and criteria for Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) certification, IDH has started the Soy Fast Track Fund managed by Solidaridad South America. The ultimate aim of the Fund is to 'upscale and accelerate' responsible soy production and trade. This fund will support private investments in producer support, such as training in good agricultural practices. Producers, processors or buyers can apply for match funding up to a maximum of 50%.

The driving mechanism involves matching private funds to a maximum of 50%. Those private investments can also be premiums paid for RTRS-soy and/or investments in (e.g.) good agricultural practices training of producers. To identify what measures can be financed, the Fund will draw from the results of a GAP analysis facilitated by IDH early 2011. The Fund will finally also give support to the outreach program of RTRS.

With regards to The Netherland’s soy sourcing objective, maximal efforts will made to buy responsible soy sourced via the so-called mass balance supply chain option. In addition, during the transition period, RTRS-credits will be purchased so as to encourage growers to be included in the physical supply chain at a later stage. “Ultimately, the criteria for responsibly produced soy need to be included in generic quality standards. Only then will the transition to 100% responsible soy be ensured”, says Henk Flipsen, CEO of Nevedi.

Implementation of New Supply Chain Certification System Documents

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is introducing a revised version of the Supply Chain Certification System (SCCS) documents, as approved by the RSPO Executive Board, starting 1 January 2012.

The aims of these revisions are to set the minimum requirements for a consistent methodology for RSPO certification of supply chains so that all certification bodies can operate in a consistent and controlled manner; and to produce documents that ensure long-term continuity and consistency of the delivery of certification against the requirements of the RSPO Supply Chain Standard so that claims of RSPO members relating to the production, procurement and use of RSPO certified oil palm products are accurately validated.

The former version of the SCCS, developed in November 2009, was updated to meet the needs for a ‘coherent normative standard’ for supply chain certification and to incorporate the range of amendments that have been made to supply chain certification requirements.

Starting in 2012, new supply chain certification exercises will have to use and comply with these new requirements, while existing supply chain certified companies/facilities will continue their certification under the existing SCCS (2009) document until the next audit or surveillance.

The updated documents can be downloaded on the RSPO website

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WWF Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011

WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011—an update of the first scorecard published 2 years ago—measures over 130 major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers by looking at their commitment to, and use of, palm oil certified to the internationally recognised standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Of the companies scored, WWF believes that many are making commendable progress to increase their use of sustainable palm oil and to reduce their impact on deforestation. Most of the companies scored in 2009 and 2011 have taken some strides forward, showing how the use of sustainable palm oil is slowly becoming more mainstream.

The Scorecard, which assesses both RSPO members and non members, also shows that 87 of the 132 companies (66%) surveyed have committed to sourcing 100% RSPO-certified palm oil by 2015 or earlier, an encouraging sign that could spur further market development. However, nearly half of the retailers and more than a fifth of manufacturers scored very poorly on taking responsibility for the impacts of their palm oil sourcing. The leading companies in the Scorecard demonstrate that it is possible to source certified sustainable palm oil to cover most or all of their palm oil usage, so there are no excuses for all companies not to take action now.

» download

The revision of the Brazilian Forest Act: increased deforestation or a historic step towards balancing agricultural development and nature conservation?

Almost two-thirds of the Brazilian territory is covered by natural vegetation. Although not all of that area is pristine, much of it has a high conservation value. 170 million hectares (Mha) of natural vegetation are located within Federal and State protected areas. Most of the remaining 367 Mha is on private agriculture lands, where the Forest Act is the most important legal framework for conservation. In July 2010, the Brazilian parliament began the analysis of a substitutive legislation for the Forest Act. The main motivations for the revision is that, on the one hand, it has been found ineffective in protecting natural vegetation, and on the other hand, it is perceived as a barrier against development in the agriculture sector. According to the authors of this paper, the substitutive Forest Act, as it presently stands, does not represent a balance between existing standpoints and objectives; it may drive development towards either more private protection through market-driven compensation actions, or increased deforestation and less nature protection/restoration. This article uses outcomes from modelling analyses to discuss weaknesses of the substitutive Forest Act and to suggest possible improvements.

» download

Orangutans and the Economics of Sustainable Forest Management in Sumatra

Deforestation is responsible for approximately 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is therefore a major contributor to climate change. It is also an issue for biodiversity and ecosystem services, and a direct threat to Asia’s great ape, the orangutan. Between 2005 and 2010, Indonesia experienced an acceleration of forest loss compared to 2000-2005, negatively affecting forests and biodiversity, but also local and global ecosystem services such as water supply, human health and food security in addition to climate change mitigation. Much of the deforestation is caused by both illegal and short-term economic gains, often undermining long-term development goals.

» download

Scarcity and Degradation of Land and Water: Growing Threat to Food Security

Widespread degradation and deepening scarcity of land and water resources have placed a number of key food production systems around the globe at risk. This poses a major challenge to the task of feeding a world population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, according to this FAO report. The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW) notes that while the last 50 years witnessed a notable increase in food production, in too many places achievements have been associated with management practices that have degraded the land and water systems upon which food production depends. Today a number of those systems face the risk of progressive breakdown of their productive capacity under a combination of excessive demographic pressure and unsustainable agriculture use and practices.

» download

Oil Palm Expansion in South East Asia: trends and implications for local communities and indigenous peoples

This study, edited by Marcus Colchester and Sophie Chao, shows that the consequences of oil palm expansion for local communities and indigenous peoples are extremely varied. When they compared the national experiences with palm oil, the authors found that where farmers’ and indigenous peoples’ lands are secure and where there is rule of law, oil palm tends to develop modestly as a small-holder crop with better outcomes for local people in terms of income, equity and livelihoods. However, where land rights are insecure or law enforcement weak, oil palm tends to expand as very large company-owned estates with serious problems for prior occupants and workers, ensuing land conflicts and human rights abuse. The report presents case studies from across the region to back its policy recommendations as well as an assessment of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

» download

Implications of Biodiesel-Induced Land-Use Changes for CO2 Emissions: Case Studies in Tropical America, Africa, and Southeast Asia

The authors of this paper argue that direct and/or indirect land-use changes that result from the cultivation of biofuels can cause emissions due to carbon losses in soils and biomass, and could negate any eventual greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction benefit. The paper evaluates the implications of land-use change emission on the climate-change mitigation potential of different biofuel production systems in 12 case studies in 6 countries, using 3 biofuel crops: oil palm, Jatropha, and soybean.

» download

WWF Germany video explains RSPO

This animated video from WWF-Germany explains in simple terms what is the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as well as WWF's role in it. English, French and Mandarin language versions will be available soon.

» watch

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The Co-operative moves on palm oil, October 21 2011

The Co-operative Group has become the largest UK supermarket to move toward 100% CSPO. The retailer is purchasing GreenPalm certificates from a co-operative of smallholders who are producing sustainable palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).


McDonald’s joins sustainable palm oil initiative, October 20 2011

McDonald's Corp. has officially joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The fast food giant primarily uses palm oil as cooking oil for its operations in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America. RSPO welcomed the approval of McDonald's membership.


Kuchenmeister to use certified palm oil, October 18 2011

The Kuchenmeister GmbH Company has joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Starting on January 1 2012, Kuchenmeister will adjust all its products to use segregated palm oil.


Unilever returns to Golden Agri-Resources subsidiary

Singapore Business, October 18 2011

Palm oil producer PT SMART has received a purchase order from Unilever. The Golden Agri-Resources subsidiary also recently announced that it has received its first Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification for some of its operations in North Sumatra. According to SMART, this is part of the plans by its parent company to certify all its palm oil operations by end 2015.


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International Conference on Responsible Soy

23-24 May, 2012
London, UK

The RTRS is organizing the next International Conference on Responsible Soy under the name “Building bridges”, 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).

Find out more

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Dutch to press for abolition of EU levies on palm oil

CNNireport, December 23 2011

The Netherlands is to press the European Commission for the abolition of the EU import levies on sustainably produced crude palm oil, Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen has said. Due to the high costs, resulting among other factors from the import levies, demand for sustainable palm oil lags behind supply.


Meet the Change Makers: Avon Calls for a Green Makeover

Onearth, December 22 2011

In this interview, Susan Arnot Heaney, Avon's director of corporate responsibility, describes her efforts to develop, track, and report on efforts to reduce the impact of Avon's activities on the planet, among others its actions on sustainable palm oil.


Palm oil pounds and pence

The ENDS Report 443, December 20 2011

This short article highlights some key facts and figures regarding the palm oil industry, the reason for its growth in Indonesia and Malaysia, and the prospects for expansion of the industry in the years ahead.


Will 'sustainable' palm oil sell in China?, December 19 2011

Will the world's largest importers of palm oil — India and China — show the same preference for certified palm oil that is beginning to be seen in Western Europe and the United States? Teoh Cheng Hai, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) first Secretary-General, and former Honorary Advisor to the World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia), shares some observations on this challenging market for sustainable palm oil.


Thai Palm Oil Industry Ready for Sustainable Palm Oil Production, December 16 2011

The Secretary General of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Chairman of the Thai Oil Palm and Palm Oil Association, the Palm Oil Crushing Mill Association, the Thai Biodiesel Producer Association and the Palm Oil Refinery Association have announced the approval and publication of the National Interpretation (NI) of the RSPO in Thailand.


Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry amends moratorium map and excludes oil palm concession issued in breach of moratorium, December 14 2011

In August 2011, Irwandi Yusuf, governor of Aceh (Indonesia), signed a permit for a palm oil concession in the Tripa Peat Swamp, apparently in breach of the moratorium on new forest concessions under the Indonesia-Norway US$1 billion REDD deal. The permit allowed PT Kallista Alam to clear 1,605 hectares for oil palm plantations.


RSPO coming of age, December 12 2011

Jonathon Porritt reflects on the growth and challenges of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), based on his keynote speech at the RSPO Annual Meeting in November 2011. Porritt suggest that now is the time to celebrate palm oil’s exceptional status, rather than complaining about the major attention the industry receives because of sustainability issues.



In the following interview, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Secretary General Darrel Webber delves into the issues facing the Roundtable, and discusses sustainable palm oil premiums, the effectiveness of RSPO sanctions.


Applications for ISPO certification opens in 2012

The Jakarta Post, December 2 2011

The government will start collecting applications for a mandatory sustainable palm oil scheme by early 2012, expecting all Indonesian oil palm plantations to be certified in 2014 at the latest. The government-backed Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification scheme was unveiled in late 2009 after consumer product giants suspended crude palm oil purchases from several major Indonesian suppliers for alleged deforestation practices.


Sustainable Sourcing: What’s threatening to knock green issues off the agenda, December 1 2011

In this blog entry, the author argues that companies will have some questions to answer in 2012 if they are serious about continuing their pursuit of environmental responsibility in the challenging economic climate, using the palm oil sector as an example.


Cinderella industry: Palm oil’s misfortunes

The Jakarta Post, December 1 2011

This article delves into some of the domestic obstacles facing Indonesia’s palm oil sector, and identifies the need for a national strategy to develop a more “valued added” industry. It also advocates for a comprehensive and visionary policy laying out the blueprint for a sustainable palm oil industry.


Indonesia to Start Green Palm Oil Certification in January

Businessweek, December 1 2011

Indonesia said it will start in January 2012 an assessment of producers seeking sustainability certification, and plans to certify most of the nation’s output under its own standards by 2014.


Will sustainable palm oil transform the market?

CSR Asia, November 30 2011

In this article, Rikke Netterstrom describes the obstacles standing in the way of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), reminding us that this is “the best show in town”, and that responsible companies must support the initiative: there is no excuse not to.


Green Palm Oil Group RSPO to Meet Again In 4 Months

Morning Star, November 30 2011

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said Thursday that it will reschedule another general assembly within 4 months after a meeting last week among buyers, producers and retailers failed to draw enough quorum to pass new measures on time limits for buyers to adopt sustainability practices and certification of palm oil as sustainable.


Unilever: We know there’s frustration, but ‘breakthrough is near’ on sustainable palm oil, November 29 2011

While the uptake of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) has not been as fast as many stakeholders had hoped, a “breakthrough is near” according to Unilever’s Director of Sustainable Sourcing Development Jan Kees Vis.


CGG is setting up a soybean base in Brazil, November 24 2011

Chongqing Grain Group Co Ltd (CGG), one of China's largest State-owned grain corporations, said it will invest $500 million to build a soybean industrial base in Brazil, the second-largest soybean-producing and processing country after the United States. The plant, which will start production in 2013, will have an annual capacity of 1.5 million tons of cooking oil, to be sold in the Chinese and Brazilian markets.


Villagers face off against palm oil firm’s bulldozers

EIA, November 23 2011

Villagers in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province are squaring off against a palm oil company’s bulldozers in an ongoing land rights dispute. Reportedly, PT Munte Waniq Jaya Perkasa has moved into the forests around Muara Tae, a village in West Kutai, and has started clearing land for conversion to palm oil production.


Palm oil body calls for reduced tariffs

Financial Times, November 22 2011

The body tasked with cleaning up the $50bn palm oil industry claims it has reached its limits and is calling on governments to assist in the job by reducing trade tariffs.


New Report Exposes Human Rights Abuses In Wilmar Group Plantation In Jambi, Indonesia

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources, November 21 2011

A new report exposes how local Indonesian police (BRIMOB) in Jambi, working with palm oil plantation staff, systematically evicted people from three settlements, firing guns to scare them off and then using heavy machinery to destroy their dwellings and bulldoze concrete floors into the nearby creeks. The operations were carried out over a week in mid-August this year.


WWF-Indonesia Calls for Action to Save Rainforest from Palm Oil, Pulp & Paper Industries

Jakarta Globe, November 16 2011

WWF-Indonesia is appealing to authorities to take steps to save a valuable area of Sumatran jungle from deforestation after an “amazing” 5 of the 7 wild cat species found on the island were captured on camera. WWF-Indonesia Coordinator for the Global Forest Trade Network Program Aditya Bayunanda said much of the natural forest landscape was threatened by “large scale clearance for industrial logging, pulp and paper, as well as illegal encroachment for palm oil plantation development.”


Can Indonesia grow its economy and keep its forests?

ClimateSpectator, November 16 2011

Patricia Parkinson elaborates on the significant biodiversity and natural resources of Indonesia, and the solutions currently being developed to ensure that Indonesia’s economic growth—including the palm oil industry—do not reduce the country’s forests.


RSPO names Saragih new advisor

The Star, November 14, 2011

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has appointed Prof Dr Bungaran Saragih as its new advisor in Indonesia, after having sought the best candidate for almost a year. Saragih is a former Indonesia Agriculture Minister and a renowned academician in the same field.


First ever survey shows Sumatran tiger hanging on as forests continue to vanish, November 10 2011

The first-ever Sumatran-wide survey of the island's top predator, the Sumatran tiger, shows that the great cat is holding on even as forests continue to vanish. The study, carried out by eight NGOs and the Indonesian government, shows that the tiger is still present in 70% of the forests surveyed, providing hope for the long-term survival of the subspecies if remaining forests are protected. Forests in Riau are falling fast to pulp and paper plantations and palm oil monocultures.


Bunge buys into palm oil, filling portfolio void, November 2 2011

Bunge, the agribusiness giant which last year expanded into Brazilian sugar, is entering the palm oil sector too, in the face of deteriorating prospects for growth in its traditional vegetable oil markets.


Indigenous community forcibly evicted for palm oil in Indonesian Borneo, November 1 2011

A palm oil company has forcibly evicted an indigenous community from one of the last tracts of rainforest near Jempang in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, reports Telapak, a group that advocates community forest management.


Opposition buckles on Palm Oil Bill, September 19 2011

Opposition members of the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics have recommended the Coalition not support the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling – Palm Oil) Bill 2010. Opponents of the bill claim that t would cost Australian industry an estimated $150 million and breach Australia's World Trade Organization obligations.

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