The Palm Scribe

Palm oil smallholders are one of the focuses of RSPO RT15 annual meeting 

NUSA DUA – The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) 15th Annual Roundtable Meeting (RT15) is giving particular attention to smallholders in its drive to move the needle towards the common goal of sustainability in the palm oil industry.

Datuk Darrel Webber giving the opening speech at RT15, Wednesday (29/11/2017). Datuk Darrel Webber giving the opening speech at RT15, Wednesday (29/11/2017).

“As we review our Principles and Criteria (P&C), we must do so accounting for different perspectives and possibilities, accounting for diverse markets and stakeholder groups, especially the less privileged ones. This process must empower stakeholders to find local solutions to local issues, that work within an international framework,” RSPO Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Darrel Webber said in an RSPO press released issued on Wednesday (29/11/2017) .

The annual meeting this year is taking the theme of ”inclusivity and Accountability,” signalling RSPO’s commitment to encouraging greater transparency and collaboration amongst an ever-growing list of stakeholders so that across the supply chain, they can take up a more active role tow move towards sustainability.

The conference provided a platform for RSPO to announce the recent endorsement of a new RSPO Smallholder Strategy, which is aimed at empowering smallholders to achieve better and sustainable livelihoods. Recognising the challenges faced by many smallholders, RSPO has established several structures including working groups, funds, and other approaches to specifically address smallholder issues.

Aligned with the theme, RSPO also highlighted a number of achievements from their latest impacts report, launched at the conference, which includes a total of 189,777 hectares of High Conservation Value (HCV) area being identified and managed by RSPO members, an area equivalent to 250,000 football fields; an increase of 21 percent since the last reporting period.

Additionally, some noteworthy trends emerging at a regional level included in Africa, where identified HCV area increased by 13,405 hectares. The Asia-Pacific region has also seen significant gains in identified HCV areas, with Malaysia recording an increase of 8,399 hectares, supported by an increase of 5,864 hectares across the rest of the region (not including Indonesia).

“We have made significant progress in the last year, with RSPO-certified plantations covering a total of 3.2 million hectares across 16 countries, a 14% increase since the last reporting period. However, we need to continuously work with our partners, particularly in developing and emerging regions to deliver change where it matters most – on the ground; a space where oil palm, the environment, and local communities can co-exist in harmony,” added Webber.

RSPO membership has increased steadily across the world, with China and North America recording increases of 30% and 62% respectively. The latest impacts report also highlighted the increase of total RSPO Smallholders to 139,123 from 109,415, with smallholder certified land increasing to 333,345 hectares from 257,649 hectares, in the previous reporting period.

The RT15 conference is being held at Grand Hyatt, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia from 29th to 30th November 2017.  Despite of the increasing vulcanic activities of Mt Agung, which has led to the closure of Bali’s Ngurah Rai International airport for days, RSPO said that more than half of the representatives from the global palm oil industry, including corporate leaders in sustainability, financial institutions, policymakers, academics, and social and environmental NGOs from around the world have still managed to participate in the event,

RSPO, established in 2004,  is a non-profit association uniting stakeholders from seven sectors in the palm oil industry — producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs.- to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

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