Roundtable on sustainable palm oil agrees enhanced standards

The international Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), has agreed a new standard aimed at strengthening environmental protection, social development and economic prosperity across the sustainable palm oil supply chain, which is widely used in confectionery.

A total of over 850 senior industry delegates attended the 16th annual conference, combined with the organisation’s 15th annual general assembly, which ended yesterday in Malaysia.

Its focus spanned major issues including deforestation, protecting peatlands, and strengthening human and labour rights, which have prompted a number of significant responses from industry, including an initiative confirmed this month by Nestlé.

The collaborative, multi-stakeholder review process, which launched in March 2017 through to October 2018 and received almost 11,500 individual stakeholder comments was tabled, ratified and voted-in by the General Assembly of RSPO. The review process also resulted in the subsequent development of an additional and separate standard specifically for independent smallholders, due for ratification in November 2019.

RSPO chief executive officer, Datuk Darrel Webber, welcomed the newly adopted, consensus-driven P&C 2018 standard which includes a number of new elements, such as adopting no deforestation through the implementation of the High Carbon Stock Approach.

“Today, we endorsed a universal, transformative, and integrated agenda, intended to strengthen transparency and inclusivity in the RSPO system, increase implementation of the RSPO standards, boost market uptake of sustainable palm oil through shared responsibilities, and create an enabling environment for our shared vision of market transformation.

“The new P&C is testament to the review process: Two 60-day public consultations, 18 face-to-face events in 13 countries, six task force meetings, and an unprecedented participation of civil society – making it the most inclusive review of its kind, to date, and for that we are proud,” said Webber.

The P&C 2018 comes into effect immediately, with existing RSPO grower members given a one year transition period to implement the new standards. The RSPO P&C are a set of environmental and social standards which member companies must comply with in order to meet RSPO certification standards. It is reviewed every five years and benchmarked against the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL), a global membership association for credible sustainability standards.

Other topics of interest at RT16 included ‘sustainable financing’ and the ‘responsible consumption and production in emerging markets’ as well as the release of RSPO’s latest impact report.

Furthermore, a ministerial address was delivered to RT16 delegates by Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau, deputy chief minister and state minister of trade and industry, Sabah, while Professor Kai Chan, University of British Columbia provided the opening keynote address. The closing address was delivered by Dato’ Carl Bek-Nielsen, co-chairman of RSPO and chief executive director, United Plantations Berhad.

RT16 was held at The Magellan Sutera Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia from 12 – 15 November 2018, with over 850 representatives from the global palm oil industry in attendance, including corporate leaders in sustainability, financial institutions, policymakers, academics, and social and environmental NGOs from around the world.

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