Europe plans 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020

8 Jun 2015

A new drive to address palm oil’s global sustainability challenges emerged at RSPO’s third European Roundtable held in Amsterdam, gathering an audience of around 280 industries, NGOs and stakeholders from palm oil producing and importing countries. While all parties are said to have agreed that RSPO certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is part of the […]

Europe plans 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020

palm-oil-fruits-oil-11390343A new drive to address palm oil’s global sustainability challenges emerged at RSPO’s third European Roundtable held in Amsterdam, gathering an audience of around 280 industries, NGOs and stakeholders from palm oil producing and importing countries. While all parties are said to have agreed that RSPO certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is part of the answer and acknowledged the work done by RSPO so far, they did not see any room for complacency and stressed the importance of change.

“Times are changing,” said Biswaranjan Sen, Co-chair of the RSPO Board of Governors and VP Chemicals Procurement & Supply Procurement at Unilever. “Watch this space, there is more to come. If we do not change, RSPO will be left behind.”

The organisation has adopted a set of ambitious regional objectives for market uptake: to reach 100% CSPO in Europe by 2020, 50% in Indonesia and Malaysia, 30% in India and 10% in China. The conference highlighted a number of challenges that RSPO will need to address in order to implement its market transformation vision in Europe and globally.

Biswaranjan Sen stressed that RSPO is not a club, and that the organisation has taken serious measures to suspend or expel non-compliant members earlier this year, and has revamped its complaint panel.

Annisa Rahmawati, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace said she gave RSPO 7/10 score when asked about the potential of RSPO to meet the sustainability challenges. Greenpeace have been among those critical of the NGOs, and it was said to be clear that they did not support a Palm Oil boycott.

Driving up market demand in all companies and sectors is another key challenge RSPO needs to address, it said, particularly in Europe, as there is no better place than the EU for RSPO members to work together to drive uptake of CSPO.

“I stand here as a businessman,” said Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer. “Business can contribute to a sustainable future, but I think there is also a role for governments to play.”

“RSPO cannot do it alone”, said Christiaan Rebergen, Director General International Cooperation, Government of The Netherlands, adding that frontrunners in Europe represent an opportunity. “How do we get the European market to reach 100%? The Dutch government will back this process during its EU presidency. And Minister Ploumen tends to put the sustainability of the international value chain on the EU agenda, starting with a high level conference in December.”