RSPO: Cause of Deforestation or Conservation?

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10 Jan 2017 --- The RSPO has published its 2016 RSPO Impact Report, providing a detailed look at RSPO’s sustainability efforts and outcomes from past year. 

Over the years, the RSPO’s focus has remained constant: transforming the market to make sustainable palm oil the norm. To ensure the vision is achieved, the RSPO vigilantly monitors the impact of RSPO on the 3 pillars of sustainability, People, Planet and Profit.

Here are a few highlights from the 2016 RSPO Impact Report:
? High Conservation Area:  As of 30 June 2016, the total High Conservation Value area set aside within RSPO Certified concessions amounts to 157,115 ha, an increase of 9% from the last reporting period. That is an area of forest and indigenous communities lands equal to the size of more than 200,000 soccer fields now set aside for conservation. 

? Paraquat: At least 40 RSPO growers have phased out paraquat, and at least 33 also have a policy banning, or have already phased out, WHO category 1a and 1b pesticides. 

? Resolution of grievances: Out of the 63 complaint cases since 2009, 41 have either been closed or are closed for monitoring. 

? Support to smallholders: Since 2013, the RSPO has been running a Smallholder Support Fund (RSSF) aimed at improving access to RSPO certification, promoting sustainable agricultural practices and increasing production of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).  RSPO has certified 109,415 smallholders (individual and schemed) in the last reporting period. 

Together with monitoring the RSPO impacts, the report identifies areas of contribution and opportunity for support by the RSPO to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched by United Nations in 2015. The RSPO, through its actions, is already working in supporting five of the SDGs: zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, responsible consumption and production, and life on land. The RSPO continues to support and further integrate the other SDGs into RSPO standards and activities. 

The report also includes data from several industries that have committed to 100% CSPO in many European countries, and as of the reporting period Germany, France, the Netherlands and the UK have all made significant progress towards reaching their targets.

“RSPO recognises that oil palm cultivation has been linked as one of the major causes of deforestation across the globe. However, with the mandatory assessment becoming part of the RSPO new planting procedure, our members have been able to increase the HCV certified areas. This practice hence eliminates the loss of forests with outstanding and critical importance due to their environmental, socio-economic, cultural, biodiversity and landscape value” said Darrel Webber, CEO of the RSPO. He further added “the most important priority in the sustainable palm oil sector is to continue to help shape government and global policy to strike the right balance between the need for development and environmental protection globally.”

To further strengthen its global engagement with the largest consumer and producer markets, the RSPO has in the last year set up additional offices in China and Latin America and now has representatives in India, Thailand and the USA.

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