RSPO members need to match performance to promises to speed palm oil sustainability
“While RSPO is quite rightly celebrating impressive growth in members and volumes of certified palm oil produced and bought, there are many who are looking for equally impressive progress in the number of RSPO members taking action. At the same time we want progress protecting wildlife and communities in the path of the rapid expansion of palm oil cultivation,” said WWF delegation leader Adam Harrison.
WWF acknowledged grower concerns about market uptake of certified sustainable palm oil lagging behind production, now at a commendable 14 percent of global supplies of what is sometimes described as the world’s most traded and one of its most diversely used agricultural commodities.
“But the real problem is not that only half of certified sustainable palm oil is being bought but that only half of us in this room are taking the action at all,” Harrison told the RSPO general assembly.
Only 15 per cent of palm oil processor and trader members of RSPO are trading any certified palm oil and none of the bankers and financial institutions have made any time bound plans to clarify how they will help the transition to sustainability.
WWF echoed a plea from conference keynote speaker Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-At-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, for increased involvement by investors, who have the potential to be major drivers for sustainability. Professor Koh noted that Singapore, a major centre of investment in palm oil in the centre of the world’s major palm oil producing region, could not boast a single financial institution member of the RSPO.
Harrison however commended RSPO on the considerable improvement in the quality and timeliness of the reporting requirements on members, noting this represented increased transparency and accountability for the industry. But Harrison noted that there were still members who had not reported at all and others not meeting the new requirements.
WWF is looking for improvements in RSPO’s certified sustainable palm oil standard as a result of an inaugural review expected to conclude in March next year, particularly in introducing requirements to slash palm oil related carbon emissions, ending planting on peat and curbing hazardous chemical use.
Harrison urged stakeholders in palm oil related issues, whether members of RSPO or not, to take available of a consultation period on the current draft of principles and criteria for the standard which ends on 30 November.
Concerned at the impact of rapidly growing palm oil production in some of the world’s most sensitive environments, WWF was one of the instigators of the RSPO. The organisation concluded its first decade with more than 1000 members, 175 certified mills, covering nearly 1,500,000 hectares and producing over 7600,000 tonnes of CSPO.