Forest Conversion News No. 34 - July 2012 | WWF

Forest Conversion News No. 34 - July 2012

Posted on 14 July 2012    
Forest Conversion News focuses on the responsible production of palm oil and soy.



Roadshow Socializes Sustainable Palm Oil in Africa

A Roadshow sponsored by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and implemented by the organization Proforest is seeding and strengthening principles of sustainable palm oil, at a time when the commodity is experiencing unprecedented expansion across parts of the continent. While this boom has resulted in substantial economic opportunities for companies and governments alike, in some places there are risks that these opportunities may be squandered because of adverse environmental and social impacts resulting from plantations.

Africa’s contribution to global output of palm oil is still low. For example, the Ivory Coast, the only African country in the top 7 palm oil producers in the world, generates a mere 0.1% of global palm oil output. But with companies rushing in to expand their plantations in Africa in response to rising demand and near-record prices, such figures could change rapidly.

In Africa there is limited understanding about the RSPO guidelines and the related High Conservation Value (HCV) framework, a cornerstone concept of the RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&Cs) that all RSPO producer members must apply. For this reason, the Africa Roadshow aims to contribute to increased adoption of the RSPO P&C as well as the effective use of the HCV framework in the countries where most palm oil expansion is planned. The RSPO roadshow is being coordinated by Proforest, working together with an alliance of partners including the RSPO, Conservation International, Solidaridad, WWF, the HCV Resource Network, ZSL, and GIZ. Funding has been provided by the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Programme, with additional support from Sime Darby, Olam International and Unilever.

The Roadshow consists of capacity building workshops for oil palm growers, government institutions and civil society. These workshops focus on introducing the RSPO and its certification processes, HCV and Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). There are also multi-stakeholder workshops to discuss the sustainability challenges the industry faces, opportunities for RSPO uptake and interventions needed.

According to ProForest, all major oil palm companies have attended the workshops and are keen to meet the RSPO, not only because they want market assurance for global supply chains, but because they also appreciate the other benefits that RSPO certification can bring in terms of their relationships with local communities and smallholders, more efficient production systems, sound environmental management at the local level and improved labour relations. The region has a huge domestic market for palm oil and most of the palm oil produced is consumed locally. The workshops organized so far have revealed that the “biggest motivation for sustainable production may not be the purchasing policies of international supply chain actors, but an awareness of the positive local impacts,” said Isaac Abban-Mensah of Proforest.

According to Mr Abban-Mensah, ProForest’s experience with the Roadshow revealed a “lack of capacity to support growers in meeting the RSPO’s P&C.” Though the Roadshow has kick-started an initial round of awareness raising, there is still a need for more in-depth training, e.g. stepwise guidance on how to meet the RSPO’s requirements, trainings for auditors and assessors, etc. Beyond training, another issue that has featured prominently is the need to see more collaboration and interaction between various government agencies and among the stakeholder groups.

Although the countries covered so far are similar in many respects, the key issues the oil palm industry is dealing with can vary. In Ghana, the major oil palm companies consist of plantations that have existed for a long time, and the potential for very large-scale expansion is limited. There, the focus of the Roadshow was to build capacity on how to meet the RSPO’s requirements in practice.

In Cameroon, a number of large-scale oil palm expansion programmes have been outlined and concessions approved by the government, with a few more still pending. However, there is much concern about their impact on protected areas and forested landscapes, the contents of concession agreements and implications for local communities. To this end, WWF has released a briefing paper that seeks to stimulate a debate regarding the palm oil industry’s growing demand for large tracts of land in Cameroon, notably in forest areas, and to support the government with constructive ideas on how palm oil expansion can be achieved sustainably in order to support the country's economic growth strategy.

While the Roadshow has advanced the cause of sustainable palm oil, a lot of work remains according to ProForest. Among others:

  • There are other oil palm producing countries in the region where large scale expansion has started, hence it is crucial to quickly extend this programme to those countries.
  • Beyond awareness raising, technical expertise is also needed within the region to guide and support the palm oil industry towards sustainability.
  • The legal and regulatory frameworks in some of the countries may not necessarily provide the needed impetus for companies to implement sustainability requirements.

Thanks to Isaac Abban-Mensah of Proforest for kindly providing information used in this article. 

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Daniel Meyer, RTRS Representative in Brazil

Daniel works in close cooperation with the RTRS Secretariat. He is in charge of promoting RTRS certification in Brazil and coordinating the development of the project “RTRS Broad Scale Maps and HCV Guidance for Soy Expansion.”

What was your previous role and how did that pave the way for your involvement in the RTRS?
I worked during many years as an environmental consultant for the SIK, the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, carrying out research and impact evaluations on Brazilian farms that exported agricultural products to Sweden. SIK is the leading institution for agriculture and food research in Sweden. They have always been very interested in Brazil, and as I completed my university degree in that country, I was hired as their representative in Brazil, where I have lived and worked on agricultural and sustainability projects for many years now.

Can you explain your role in the RTRS?
This year I have 2 roles with the RTRS. First, to coordinate the development of the project “RTRS broad scale maps and HCV guidance for soy expansion: Multi-stakeholder process” in Brazil. This includes developing and coordinating the Technical Working Group and the Advisory Group, as well as managing their meetings and the timeline of their activities, organizing all steps and information, documentation, mapping database etc.

My second role relates to the RTRS Outreach Programme. In other words, I am the RTRS Representative, promoting RTRS in Brazil as well as supporting RTRS members in this country or from other countries regarding different issues which relate to RTRS soy production in Brazil.

What are the challenges of getting more producers in Brazil into the RTRS? How will you overcome those?
As RTRS is still a young organization (it was established in 2006), the most important challenge is the lack of knowledge among most soy producers about the RTRS and how they can benefit from it. Many soy producers think this is just another certification scheme that is only focused on selling a label, without really understanding its real nature (stakeholder involvement and participation, continuous improvement, producer support, opportunities for selling through new channels, bonus/credit etc.).

In general, you could say that the RTRS in Brazil is trying to overcome this by working at different scales. Through the Outreach Programme we are promoting RTRS not only to producers at the local level, but also to key figures such as producer associations and cooperatives, as well as those parties taking part in important conferences. RTRS members such as the NGO Solidaridad are also giving strong support on promotion. We are also trying to engage the media, especially those that cover rural issues. Then you have other challenges, which relate to political and economical willingness to take part in the RTRS. These are more difficult to resolve in the short-term, hence diplomacy and dialogue are essential tools when trying to overcome them.

What are the challenges of getting more NGOs in Brazil involved?
The response to this question is actually not that different from the previous one. In Brazil there is a lack of knowledge about the RTRS, and unfortunately some NGOs here have taken the premature stand that the RTRS is greenwashing as it involves large corporations and accepts transgenic soy. These issues can definitely be discussed and there are all kinds of arguments on what is right and wrong. But again, we are working on convincing NGOs that the RTRS is not a competitor or an organization that defends powerful corporations. Instead, the RTRS is a platform that embraces our changing world, which is a globalized one, and thus helps stakeholders to catch all the opportunities that are out there. It is clear that we cannot resolve the environmental and social problems related to soy production by working alone, with different agendas, and without any general standards and mutually accepted goals. The whole system and chain of production is too complex for that and we need to get that message out there to NGOs. Thus, to shift the entire soy sector towards more responsible and sustainable practices, we need cooperation at different scales and levels, and that is what the RTRS is working to promote.

What impact will the proposed change in the Brazilian forest code have on the RTRS in Brazil? Will this change to the laws affect how producers see the RTRS?
We are actually analyzing this question right now. But we are reaching the conclusion that there is no right and wrong answer here. Some RTRS members such as producer associations and a few environmental organizations believe the new Brazilian Forest Code is a step forward, while other RTRS member such as WWF think it’s not good for producers, or that it will create negative impacts on the environment. In other words, it's a context-dependent situation, which creates new challenges for the RTRS and we will definitely create a mechanism to adapt to this new situation in the best of manners.

What do you hope to achieve with the project “RTRS broad scale maps and HCV guidance for soy expansion: Multi-stakeholder process”? What are the challenges and opportunities?
Unfortunately this project started late. But we are working hard now to comply with the project timeline. This year, the working groups are creating the methodology and guidance for the development of national broad scale maps to guide the responsible expansion of soy production in Brazil. We will also produce drafts of broad-scale maps and definitions of biodiversity-friendly practices for producers, and we have 2 national stakeholders meetings scheduled at the end of the year.

There are many challenges, especially in the negotiation process, between producers and environmental organizations. It’s not easy to get people with different backgrounds, interests and worldviews to agree on everything. However, the interesting thing is that we are supported by top national scientists from different universities and research institutes, who are taking part in the working groups. Often, this helps to avoid the process becoming too politicized. The major opportunity presented by this project is to integrate global food security and environmental sustainability. We have a great opportunity here to address both challenges.

Explain your work in developing a supply chain for Non-GM RTRS Soy. What is necessary to make this a reality? What are your expectations for success?
First of all, in terms of production systems and social and environmental impacts, it is very important not to label all non-GM soy as something “good”, and all GM-soy as something “bad”. Both have their pros and cons. For example, the production of non-GM soy uses at least the same amount, but no fewer harmful chemicals compared to GM-soy. However, despite this, the RTRS is hoping to create a stronger supply chain for Non-GM RTRS. We are taking the first steps to build such a supply chain and I have been in contact with both WWF and retailers from both UK and Sweden on this matter. But again, if you want to make this real, you really need to see this as a structural challenge. Ninety percent of soy production today in Brazil is GM-soy, and most producers are not seeing any economical benefit in producing non-GM soy. It is also more and more difficult to get non-GM seeds, while this kind of soy also requires expensive pesticides that are being sorted out by pesticide manufactures etc. Still, the RTRS believes that non-GM under the RTRS certification scheme can be a solution in this GM-soy dominated world, as it will guide and support non-GM soy producers towards better agricultural practices, with less social and environmental impacts, meeting the demand and expectations of retailers and consumers in countries that do not accept GM-soy.

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RTRS R7: Next steps need to be taken to make system mainstream

On May 23-24, RTRS members and other stakeholders in the soy industry gathered in Heathrow, London, for the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS) Conference (RT7) and General Assembly (GA6). The theme of the conference was “Next Steps for Responsible Soy”, highlighting the need for RTRS to evolve into the mainstream standard for responsible soy while acknowledging the momentum already underway to get there.

This was the first time an RTRS annual conference has been held outside of Latin America or a producing country and was the most successful RTRS conference yet, with over 200 registered participants from 18 countries. Speakers included representatives from Cargill, Waitrose, Ahold, Lantmannen, Unilever, Grupo André Maggi, Caldenes, WWF and Wetlands International. The event took place at a time when demand is rising across the world for RTRS-certified soy, with almost 300,000 tonnes of RTRS-certified soy sold since June 2011. The RTRS has set an annual target of 5 million tonnes of responsible soy to be produced and sold by 2015.

While there was consensus that RTRS is the “best sustainable standard for soy production”, participants recognized that the scheme needs more participation from soy producers in Latin and North America. Participants noted the growing number of initiatives spearheaded by the feed industry (Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Sweden, Fefac to name a few) and retail. Many participating retailers including Mark & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Co-operative Food, Ahold (Netherlands), Coop (Switzerland) and Migros (Switzerland), have made commitments that the soy used for own brand products will come from certified responsible soy sources, showing support for RTRS soy from European buyers. At the producer level, there was recognition of the efforts made by many companies to implement the RTRS criteria and/or participate in the RTRS biodiversity mapping project (see interview).

During RT7, the state-linked Chinese Soybean Industry Association (CSIA) announced that it will be working with its 750 member organizations to meet RTRS standards. Speaking at the conference, Mr Liu Dengao, CSIA Vice President, pledged to promote responsible soy to Chinese policy makers, while setting up a number of pilot projects in the Northeast, the Yellow River region and South China to establish RTRS-recognized production, processing and trading systems.

The CSIA will also work with global soybean industry associations to expand soybean trade according to World Trade Organisation principles while educating the Chinese soybean industry on ecological conservation, food safety and basic rights for soybean farmers.

China was announced as the host of the RTRS RT8 conference in 2013.


Related information:
RTRS case studies focusing on the producers of certified RTRS and soy buyers

Nestlé, Golden Agri Resources and TFT pioneer new approach to palm oil sustainability

Nestlé’s partnership with its leading palm oil supplier, Indonesian Golden Agri Resources (GAR), and NGO The Forest Trust (TFT) is starting to look like an example of how sustainability collaboration can dramatically change operating practices and business models, according to an article by Ethical Corp.

Nestlé committed in 2010 to a global ‘no deforestation’ target by 2020, alongside other members of the Consumer Goods Forum, as a result of a campaign by Greenpeace. Magdi Batato, group technical director at Nestlé UK, says transformation around forest conservation has led to a new business model between Nestlé and GAR, while creating a competitive advantage for GAR as a palm oil supplier.

GAR now has developed a forest conservation policy in collaboration with TFT. The firm has committed to zero palm oil development on peat and high conservation value areas, no development on high carbon stock forest land, “free prior and informed consent” with regards to communities, and compliance with all local and national laws. The collaboration between GAR, TFT and Nestlé hinges on a networks of local grassroots NGOs, once allied against GAR, to provide “early warning systems” for when policy is not being properly put into practice.

A report published by Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental NGO, has found concrete evidence that PT SMART is delivering on its commitment to avoid the clearing of carbon intensive forest. Using satellite imagery and permit data, Greenomics analyzed activities across three GAR companies and found clear evidence that secondary peat swamp forests have been preserved. This analysis was supported by data showing that GAR had reduced its deforestation payments, indicating that land cleared by its companies had low volumes of timber.

6 Million Metric Tonnes World Record for RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has achieved another milestone with over 6 million metric tonnes of CSPO produced worldwide since RSPO certification began. The 20% increase in CSPO since the previous year encompasses both CSPO production area (1.2 million hectares to date) and CSPO annual production capacity (6 million metric tonnes to date). Eleven new palm oil mills were certified in the first quarter of 2012, contributing to a total of 146 mills certified amongst 30 producer organizations or growers. More than 100 new members joined the RSPO during the first quarter of this year, mostly from the European region and primarily from Germany and France.

Adam Harrison, WWF Senior Policy Officer and RSPO Executive Board Member and Vice President commented that: “Whilst this is great news from the producer members showing their real and growing commitment to sustainability, what we must see now is matching action from palm oil users. The way the rest of the supply chain can show their commitment is to make time bound plans within their Annual Communications of Progress to the RSPO and then follow these up urgently with real purchases of CSPO.”

The growth in the number of certified growers reflects the findings of the recent WWF report entitled Profiability and Sustainability in Patlm Oil Production (see news item below). According to Harrison, “our research showed that the benefits of embracing sustainability outweigh the costs incurred. We hope that this will further reinforce to growers those responsible practices that are good for the environment is also commercially advantageous for growers.”

RSPO Launches Improved Palm Oil Traceability System

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) will soon introduce eTrace, an improved traceability system for administering the physical trade of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). The improved system will be launched in the third quarter of 2012.

The RSPO eTrace will offer a better functioning system for trading RSPO-certified palm oil, and will provide a clear overview of member transactions, stock, and the conversions and downgrades that have been performed. All physical trading of CSPO via the Identity Preserved, Segregated and Mass Balance supply chain systems will be administrated in RSPO eTrace. Transactions under the GreenPalm certificate trading programme will continue to be recorded through the GreenPalm system.

RSPO and WWF highlight benefits of certification to Indonesian RSPO members and media

On 19 June 2012, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) organized an event in Jakarta for Indonesian members and media. The event included an introduction to Profitability and Sustainability in Palm Oil Production, a report recently released by WWF that explains the direct economic benefits for palm oil producers through RTRS certification.

WWF-Indonesia Deputy Director for Market Transformation Irwan Gunawan said that palm oil firms already certified by RSPO can get premium prices paid by international buyers. The WWF study, which was supported by the Dutch development bank FMO, and the United Kingdom’s development finance institution CDC, also highlights that certified firms can enjoy indirect benefits such as bankability.

Bungaran Saragih, RSPO Advisor in Indonesia, said that due to the benefits from implementing certification, Indonesia’s domestic palm oil industry should continue its transition toward sustainable palm oil production. Bungaran added that in the future, the demand for CSPO would not only come from international buyers but also from local buyers.

The RSPO targets to increase its global market share by 25%, or 15 million metric tonnes, of CSPO by 2015. RSPO’s Secretary General, Darrel Webber said that currently CSPO production has reached 6 million metric tonnes, approximately 12% of global palm oil production.

GMP+ International and RTRS to Co-operate Closely

The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) and GMP+ International, which manages the international GMP+ Feed Safety Assurance scheme, have agreed on the main points of co-operation regarding the certification of the supply chain of responsible soy.

RTRS will link to an already internationally operating GMP+ Feed Safety Assurance scheme with over 11,800 certified companies. This will make it easier to distribute RTRS soy to consumers through a controlled supply chain. GMP+ International will benefit by getting linked to an international scheme based on multi-stakeholder support. Feed companies in the supply chain will reportedly benefit from this cooperation, because it will reduce costs and provide a one stop shop – multiple certification solution.

Update on RSPO-RED application to the European Commission

On 14 April 2011, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) received a formal response from the European Commission on its application for formal recognition as a voluntary scheme under the EU Renewable Energy Directive (EU-RED) requirements. While the Commission appears to support the approach followed in the ‘Additional Guidance’, more information is requested to ensure that a number of detailed requirements in the RED are met with.

The RSPO-RED application, submitted in 2010, contained a document entitled ‘Additional Guidance for compliance with EU-RED requirements’, which allows palm oil producers and processors under certain conditions to comply with requirements in EU-RED, until April 2013 (using a so called ‘grandfathering clause’). The Additional Guidance is designed to be used in conjunction with the existing RSPO certification system, and is voluntary.

The RSPO Task Group on RED, which has been established specifically to achieve recognition of the RSPO certification system, has compiled additional information for the Commission, and re-submitted the RSPO-RED application. It is expected that a final decision on the RSPO’s recognition will be announced in before the end of 2012.

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WWF Palm Oil Investor Review 2012

WWF’s Palm Oil Investor Review 2012 outlines how investors, who play a key role in promoting the development of a sustainable palm oil industry, can play their part more effectively. It also shows how the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and WWF should support them. The Review summarizes findings from a first-of-its-kind survey of 35 key palm oil investors, examining their understanding of, and progress in, dealing with the challenges related to palm oil and sustainability.

Investors are uniquely placed to influence investee companies through active engagement and exercise of proxy voting rights, and through directing their investment capital towards sustainable palm oil producers. Understanding this dynamic is key to harnessing the power of investors to shape the palm oil industry. Investors can emphasize this to investee companies across the palm oil supply chain, making it clear that if they ignore sustainability principles, they will find it harder to access capital. WWF is urging investors to embrace this crucial this role and promote greater sustainability in the palm oil industry.


Frying the Forests: How India’s use of Palm Oil is Having a Devastating Impact on Indonesia’s Rainforests, Tigers and the Global Climate

A report published by Greenpeace India, “Frying the Forest”, exposes recent forest and peat land clearing by Duta Palma in Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Duta Palma is a supplier to the Indian market. Greenpeace argues that leading Indian companies such as ITC, Britannia, Godrej and Ruchi Soya could be linked to the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest through their use of palm oil. The NGO is demanding that these Indian companies introduce a time-bound, zero deforestation policy; stop trading with companies that destroy forests and peatlands like Duta Palma and; and stop sourcing from third party suppliers who refuse to rule out supply from companies like Duta Palma.


Responsible Soy: Cost/Benefit Analysis of RTRS Certification in Argentina and Brazil

This report from the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) asserts that there is a business case for soy producers both in Brazil and Argentina to comply with the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) criteria for responsible soy farming. Commissioned by IDH in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), WWF and the Netherlands Development Institution (FMO), the report goes on to show that producers can expect a positive return on their compliance investments after 3 years.

The report shows that investments in voluntary certification can be compensated within 3 to 4 years. The main incentives to farmers arise from a price premium (average of EUR 1.50 per tonne of beans), better terms for the purchase of inputs, access to financing and benefits related to yield increase. There are also benefits which currently cannot be quantified such as positive impact on the environment due to the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices, better labour conditions, better community relations and access to the European markets and the effect of better management and documentation systems.


How to Identify Degraded Land for Sustainable Palm Oil in Indonesia

This World Resources Institute (WRI)/Sekala Working Paper demonstrates how to identify potentially suitable “degraded land” for sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia and presents results from the application of the method in West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan. The paper presents a quick, practical, and cost-effective method for pre-screening sites that is consistent with both Indonesia’s proposed national policies and the certification standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The method consists of a desktop analysis as well as field assessments. The desktop portion of the method will be made easily replicable through an interactive Kalimantan-wide “Suitability Mapper” website currently under development, scheduled for release later in the year.


Committed Carbon Emissions, Deforestation, and Community Land Conversion from Oil Palm Plantation Expansion in West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Developers in Indonesian Borneo are increasingly converting carbon-dense peatlands for oil palm plantations, driving deforestation and boosting greenhouse gas emissions, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research concludes that nearly all unprotected forests in Ketapang District in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) will be gone by 2020 given current trends. Author Carlson and colleagues found that while developers focused on lowland forest areas for forest conversion between 1994 and 2001, they subsequently focused of peatlands. By 2008 nearly 70% of new plantations were established on peatlands, spurring substantial carbon dioxide emissions. The study projects that up to 90% of emissions from palm oil plantations will come from peatlands by 2020.


An Overview of the Brazil-China Soybean Trade and its Strategic Implications for Conservation

In this report from The Nature Conservancy, the authors argue that Chinese demand for soybeans underpins a commodity market where neither certification nor price premiums to producers are promising approaches to minimizing habitat conversion. They recommend other strategies to green commodity markets of this type, including:
  • risk management in multinationals, where deforestation is a reputational issue irrespective of attitudes in domestic markets
  • non-price premium incentives to producers (subsidized credit, access to extension services, etc.)
  • improving regulatory frameworks through cheap, large-scale land-use monitoring
  • intensifying production systems on land already cleared
  • framing environmental issues in terms of food security
  • mapping land available for agricultural expansion at minimal biodiversity cost, rather than redlining high conservation value area

Soybean and Oil Palm Expansion in South America: A review of Main Trends and Implications

This paper by CIFOR’s Pabo Pacheco examines trends associated with commercial agriculture expansion in South America. It emphasises soybean and oil palm expansion associated with food, feed and biofuel markets, paying particular attention to their economic, social and environmental implications. The author argues that the outcomes of soy and oil palm expansion are still under debate. In some cases, it has contributed to increase economic incomes in production zones while in other cases it has contributed to land concentration and favoured traders and industry owners at the expense of smallholders. In addition, land conversion has created more homogeneous landscapes linked to adoption of large-scale mechanised and capital-intensive agriculture. For the author, it is difficult to argue that economic gains have outweighed environmental and social costs. He recommends a more nuanced analysis to devise development pathways that can improve distribution of social and economic benefits while at the same time reducing carbon emissions.


Clear-cut Exploitation: How International Investors & REDD+ Donors Profit from Deforestation in West Papua

The Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak reveal how indigenous landowners in Sorong, West Papua province, are being exploited by the Kayu Lapis Indonesia Group (KLI) for plantations development. Drawing from documents they have obtained, the authors shows that “land rental” agreements provided local Moi landowners and palm oil companies belonging to KLI with as little as US$0.65 per hectare, whereas the land is projected to be worth US$5,000 per hectare once developed. Meanwhile, KLI has reportedly paid landowners as little as US$2.8 per cubic metre of merbau timber, which the company sells for US$875 on export. Legal norms in permit allocation and timber harvesting have been routinely flouted, with little to no law enforcement by either the national or provincial government. According to the authors, international investors such as Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, are profiting from the situation—reportedly, GPFG is a major investor in plantation firms in Papua.


Palm Oil: Production, Processing, Characterization, and Uses

The book serves as a source of information on the production, processing, characterization, and utilization of palm oil and its components. The publication will be of specific interest to researchers and food manufacturers, with discussions on the general uses of palm and kernel oils and their fractions in food, nutritional, and oleochemical products as well as the potential use of palm oil as an alternative to trans fats. Also included are sections on the physical, chemical, and polymorphic properties of palm oil and its components as well as the measurement and maintenance of palm oil quality.

Ordering information: Nicole Philyaw at

Ecological Footprint and Investment in Natural Capital in Asia and the Pacific

This report provides examples of promising approaches for sustainably managing natural capital in Asia and the Pacific. These are based on experiences from a number of important regional cooperation initiatives, including the Heart of Borneo Initiative, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, the Greater Mekong Subregion Core Environment Programme, and the Living Himalayas Framework for Cooperation. Looking beyond the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, these initiatives provide valuable lessons on large scale ecosystem management in the region.

The Ecological Footprint and Investment in Natural Capital in Asia and the Pacific report is published as a partnership between the Asian Development bank (ADB) and WWF, and provides a regional perspective on WWF's bi-annual Living Planet Report.


Toward Sustainability: The Roles and Limitations of Certification

This report, composed by international business and civil society leaders and academic experts, describes what is known and what is most important to learn about the performance and potential of voluntary standards and certification. The report gives evidence of improvements in social, environmental, and economic practices resulting from certification at the site level, as well as some instances of unintended effects, positive and negative. However, the report also finds that evidence of broader or longer-term impacts is more limited.


TEDxWWF: Darrel Webber, RSPO Secretary General -- Business Unusual For A Global Commodity

Darrel's presentation covers the beginnings of sustainable development for palm oil and what that means for the environment and people. He also shares what has been achieved by the RSPO so far.

Unilever, the RSPO and Sustainable Palm Oil

This Unilever video gives a background of the crop and presents the actions that Unilever and RSPO are taking to support sustainable palm oil.

Save the Cerrado

This 60-second film by WWF illustrates how we are all connected to the Cerrado, a beautiful Brazilian savannah under threat from the expansion of soy plantations.

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Unilever Announces New Target to Source all Palm Oil from Traceable Sources by 2020

RSPO, June 15 2012

Unilever has set a target to achieve 100% traceable certified palm oil supply chains by 2020. To help achieve this goal, it announced that it is in advanced stages of discussions with the Indonesian government for investing over €100m in a large processing plant for palm oil derivatives in Sumatra.


GAR and SMART publish High Carbon Stock Forest Study Report and continue multi-stakeholder engagement process

GAR/SMART, June 4 2012

Golden Agri-Resources Limited (GAR), together with its subsidiary PT SMART Tbk (SMART), have published the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Forest Study Report. This is the result of efforts to develop a practical, scientifically robust and cost effective methodology to define and identify areas of HCS for conservation.


MOU Between RSPO, PTPN III and IDH to Drive Sustainability Amongst Independent Smallholders, April 26 2012

The MOU will cover a programme that provides assistance to independent smallholders working in PT Perkebunan Nusantara III Persero (PTPN III), a government-owned oil palm plantation company based in Indonesia, to achieve Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification. Under the MOU with PTPN III, Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), a Netherlands-based organization funded by the Dutch government, will provide ‘match funding’ in the form of a grant.


Cargill Expands Worldwide Sustainable Palm Oil Commitment for 2020, April 2012

In 2020 the commitment to make Cargill’s palm oil supply and use sustainable will be extended across the company’s entire oil and trading businesses and to all customers worldwide, including China and India. According to the company, all palm oil destined for Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will be Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)-certified sustainable from 2015.


BEMEFA joins Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil, May 30 2012

BEMEFA, the Belgian association of compound feed manufacturers, has joined the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil. That alliance has set as its goal for all palm oil present in food intended for the Belgian market to meet the principles and criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by the end of 2015.


RSPO Applauds New Britain Palm Oil Limited For 100% RSPO-Certified Commitment, May 22 2012

Public listed New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL) has pledged to have all of its palm oil mills 100% RSPO-certified by the end of 2012, through fully traceable, segregated, sustainable palm oil.


Blommer aims for Sustainable Chocolate

Chicago Tribune, May 9, 2012

Blommer Chocolate Co. has unveiled a US$45 million cocoa sustainability initiative, with the company in the process of ensuring all of its palm oil is certified sustainable by 2015.


Carrefour Supports CSPO in Riau, Sumatra, May 3 2012

Carrefour has launched a programme to build the capacity of farmers on sustainable palm oil in Riau, Sumatra. The programme will seek to certify the farmers to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard.


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Carrefour launches Indonesia's first RSPO-certified cooking oil

The Jakarta Post, July 17 2012

Carrefour Indonesia has launched a cooking oil product that is the nation's first palm oil derivative to be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The retailer collaborated with producer Musim Mas to produce the cooking oil, and plans to export it to Malaysia, India, Taiwan and China.  


First smallholders from India to be certified for responsible soy

Solidaridad Network, July 12 2012

Soy producers in India are celebrating the first certification in the country by the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS). This milestone is the result of investments made by the Dutch Cheesemakers, Cono, together with Friesland Campina,  the largest dairy cooperative in The Netherlands, in responsible soy production projects in India.


Is it now time for genetically-modified soy?, July 12 2012

As the share of GM soy increases relative to non-GM, the risk of contamination increases. Already tests confirm that not all non-GM soy is as non-GM as it should be. Other trends include the increasing cost of non-GM soy, its relatively low supply, and retailers' growing inability to implement a non-GM policy. For the author, the arguments need to "move beyond the ill informed and emotional points on the level of `Frankenstein Foods’, and consider the savings in costs, water usage, and bio-diversity which GM varieties are beginning to offer." 


Food industry challenged to label palm oil

ABC News, July 12 2012

Labelling of palm oil is voluntary in Australia and few companies are showing the initiative to apply the label, reports this ABC news segment. WWF has begun approaching companies that import palm oil to help them source sustainable palm oil, but time is running out for the rainforests that are removed to make room for plantations.


Herakles Farms and how a US agri-corporation sparked anger in Africa, July 6 2012

Herakles Farms says it “aims to meet growing global demand for food by developing sustainable and environmentally benign projects with full support of the local people". But during a Greenpeace field trip to Cameroon, Greenpeace forest campaigner Filip Verbelen witnessed widespread local opposition to Herakles Farms’ palm oil plantation.


Palm Oil Boom Raises Conservation Concerns

Nature, July 5 2012

This backgrounder article on the issue of sustainability in the palm sector argues that a growing body of research shows that palm-oil farming can cause deforestation and reduce biodiversity, and that the oil’s use as a biofuel offers only marginal benefits for mitigating climate change. However, the author acknowledges that consumer pressure could encourage companies to change their practices, citing the work of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the challenges the organization faces.


Carrefour to Launch Cooking Oil Product with RSPO-certified Palm Oil

CSR Digest , June 29 2012

Carrefour Indonesia will be launching its EcoPlanet cooking oil later in 2012. The palm oil used in every EcoPlanet product will be sourced according to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards.


RSPO to allocate funds to certify smallholders

The Star, June 22 2012

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is putting in place a mechanism to channel a portion of its revenue towards the certification of oil palm estates owned by independent smallholders in key markets such as Indonesia, Thailand and West Africa. The RSPO had also set aside 300,000 euros to encourage smallholders to certify their plantations.


Indonesia to remain No. 1 palm-oil producer within next decade

The Jakarta Post, June 21 2012

Amid soaring global demand for palm oil, Indonesia is predicted to remain the world’s largest palm oil producer within the next decade, on the back of its main rival Malaysia’s land scarcity and aging plantations, says a report by Rabobank. Indonesia’s land availability is expected to last for another 12 years, while Malaysia had mostly exhausted its land supply, leaving the country with only 600,000 hectares of suitable land.


Southeast Asian Haze: Who’s To Blame?

The Wall Street Journal, June 20 2012

Increasingly, experts aren’t just blaming Indonesia for burning forest land on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan to make way for palm oil plantations. The article argues that Malaysian and Singaporean companies that own palm oil estates in Indonesia also have to bear the responsibility.


Palm oil for India 'destroying Indonesian forests'

Mother Nature Network, June 19 2012

Surging demand for palm oil in India for cooking and everyday grocery items is driving tropical forest destruction in Indonesia, according to Greenpeace. In its report "Frying the Forest" the group called on Indians to boycott products by brands Britannia, ITC, Parle and Godrej, such as biscuits and soap, until the companies commit to sustainable palm oil supply chains. India consumes 15% of global palm oil.


Thai Peasant Farmers Polish Palm Oil’s Lackluster Image

Jakarta Globe, June 10 2012

The article describes efforts to certify independent palm oil producers according to the RSPO standard in Thailand.


A comment on ‘Sex and the Single Rhinoceros’ by Henry Nicholls

Borneo Rhino Alliance, June 10 2012

If there are committed individuals and organizations that feel compelled to do what they can to save the (Borneo) Sumatran rhino from extinction, should they be encouraged to try, or to give up? With this provocative question, Junaidi Payne, Executive director of the Borneo Rhino Alliance, looks at the issue surrounding the conservation of the species, highlighting the role or the palm oil industry.


West Africa: Millions ploughed into Oil Palm sector

Solidaridad, June 6 2012

Solidaridad West Africa has signed a 4-year agreement with The Netherlands Embassy in Accra for the development of a Sustainable Oil Palm Programme. Through this programme, Solidaridad will improve the efficiency and productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the oil palm sector through the development, testing and up-scaling of “Best Management Practices.”


Fefac pleased with RTRS progress, May 30 2012

Fefac, representing the EU compound feed and premix industry, will continue supporting the objectives of the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS), as a credible multi-stakeholder platform. Fefac’s own Task Force on Sustainability will develop a follow-up roadmap to assist RTRS efforts to gain further market awareness and acceptance in the EU through its RTRS outreach programme.


Soya: The Huge Challenge of Sustainable Supplies, May 30 2012

Food manufacturers and others face “very big” challenges in developing supplies of sustainable soya, according to Jan Kees Vis, Unilever’s global director of sustainable sourcing development. But with greater education, a much higher proportion of the crop will be produced to Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) standards he said.


PODCAST: a Soya Bean Future?, May 14 2012

What's the future for one of the world's most successful and controversial crops, soya? If world demand increases where will these new supplies of the soya bean come from? The BBC’s Dan Saladino reports on the latest trends.


Palm Oil Sustainable as Biofuel

New Straits Times, May 7 2012

Palm oil is safe to be used as biodiesel and meets the Renewable Fuel Standard of the United States, said a researcher from Bogor Agricultural Institute, in Indonesia. Responding to a statement by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that oil palm was only able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17%, Prof. Budi Indra Setiawan said the data used by EPA should be reviewed. EPA had set a carbon emission reduction requirement for palm oil at least 20% to enable it to be used as biofuel in the US.


The Dark Side of Soya: How One Super Crop Lost its Way

The Ecologist, May 1 2012

According to this article, a decade ago soy was being hailed as a “superfood” but in recent years, numerous issues surrounding deforestation and its impact on health have come to light. The most controversial part of the soya debate is that “surrounding its impact on human health”.


In Sustainability Push, Unilever Aims to Build Palm Oil Processing Plant in Indonesia, April 25 2012

Unilever is in talks to build a US$130 million palm oil processing mill in Indonesia as a commitment to use more environmentally-friendly palm oil in its products. The mill, which would be located in Sumatra, would produce about 10% of Unilever's annual consumption of palm oil. Unilever is the world's largest single consumer of palm oil, using 1.36 million tonnes a year.


Sourcing Affordable Segregated Sustainable Palm Oil Remains ‘Extremely Difficult’ in the US, says Cargill, April 25 2012

Cargill says that it could be some time before CSPO fractions are affordable in the US. According to the company, sourcing segregated palm oil for the US is still extremely difficult due to economical shipping quantities and lack of customer commitment. While all of Cargill’s US palm oil refineries have been audited by the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), demand is not yet enough for all refineries to start supplying in full scale.


“EPA distorts assessment of palm oil to discredit Malaysian exports”

The Star, April 21 2012

In this opinion editorial, Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron, CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), argues that the US Government’s claims that its refusal to list palm oil under the Renewal Fuel Standard (RFS) would not keep palm biodiesel out of the US marketplace and was not a trade distortion, is both inaccurate and misleading.


Orangutan Rescued from Peat Forest Endangered by Palm Oil, Fires

Mongabay, April 18 2012

Conservationists have rescued an adult male orangutan from a pocket of forest in Tripa, an area of deep peat that is at the centre of battle over Indonesia's commitment to reducing deforestation. The concession, which is controlled by palm oil company PT Kallista Alam, was controversially granted last year by former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf. The Ministry of Environment is now investigating the license.


ThermoEnergy and Logica Eko to Form Joint Venture in Colombia, April 18 2012

ThermoEnergy Corporation announced that the company has signed a term sheet to form a joint venture with Logica Eko, a green solutions company in Colombia, South America. ThermoEnergy's patented technologies and engineered systems can turn the effluent from palm oil production into useful products like fertilizer and valuable chemical feed stocks.


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European Soy Event

21 September 2012
Zurich, Switzerland

Soy Network Switzerland, Coop, Migros and SECO will sponsor this event targeted specifically to retailers in Europe that buy or use soy. The focus will be on market-driven solutions for responsible soy such as RTRS, Basel Criteria and ProTerra, and will give the participants the opportunity to discuss common goals and measures to enhance the use of these schemes. The deadline for registration is July 27, 2012. Interested representatives from the retail industry can contact

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Sustainable Oil Palm Development, Agronomic Specificities & Yield Potential in West Africa

5-6 September 2012
Accra, Ghana

As the palm oil industry expands in Africa, so has its public profile, resulting in intense scrutiny from local communities and NGOs. How sustainable are these plantation projects? The CMT's Palm Oil conference in Africa discusses pertinent issues and challenges on the sustainability aspects of investing in palm oil plantations in West Africa.

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China Sustainable Palm Oil Supply Chain Forum

July 18, 2012
Tianjin, China

On July 18th, the China Sustainable Palm Oil Supply Chain Forum will be held in Tianjin, China. The forum will be part of the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce’s (CFNA) 2012 International Oils and Oilseeds Industry Summit and will be jointly hosted by the CFNA, WWF-China, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and the RSPO. Speakers will include CFNA President Mr. Bian Zhenhu, WWF’s Dr. Jason Clay and Prof. Jirong Sun, RSPO Secretary General Darrel Webber, Walmart’s China Senior Director Lloyd Guo, and representatives of Chinese and international companies.

The programme will address a wide range of both upstream and downstream issues will showcase the efforts of RSPO and its member companies to promote the production and consumption of sustainable palm oil.

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Globoil India

September 21-23, 2012
Mumbai, India

Globoil is the premier international conference & exhibition on vegetable oil, feed & feed ingredients, oilseeds & related industries.

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10TH Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT10)

October 30 – November 1, 2012
Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

This year, the RT10 is themed: "10 years of driving sustainability. The business model of the future.”

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