The Palm Scribe

Everyone Has a Role in Fighting Child Labor: RSPO 

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is saying that everyone in the global palm oil supply chain has a role to play in promoting sustainable practices in the palm oil sector, including in fighting against child labor in the industry.

Commenting on a recent report by the Associated Press which highlighted cases of child labor in oil palm plantations, RSPO said that as an organization it has banned the use of child labor since its founding and it has clear standards on the protection of child rights but added that other stakeholders needed to also play a role in this issue.

“Child labor is not something the RSPO can tackle alone. The role of governments and the enforcement of rules and regulations in producer nations continue to play a critical role alongside voluntary certification in solving this complex challenge,” RSPO said in a press release sent to the Palm Scribe on Tuesday (5/1.)

 It recognized that although the Associated Press report did not refer to violations specifically in RSPO certified plantations, child labor was a troubling and often hidden issue that sadly persists in low-income agricultural settings, including in the palm oil sector. 

“We call on all members, stakeholders, civil society and governments to build on the voluntary initiatives from the private sector by implementing and enforcing labor laws to ensure all companies, wherever they operate, follow consistent standards to act responsibly and address both social and environmental issues that are negatively impacting the sector,” RSPO said.

It added that an open and transparent discussion of the issue, as highlighted by in the Associated Press report would help bring more attention to the uncertified crop and allow us to encourage more growers to adopt our standards. 

“But it’s not just about growers and producers in Malaysia and Indonesia. We know that everyone in the global supply chain has a role to play, including consumers. At RSPO, we call this Shared Responsibility.,” the RSPO said in the release. Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s top producer of palm oil.

The multi-stakeholder organization vowed that in the meantime, it would continue to act swiftly and decisively to address any violations of its standards by investigating all complaints in accordance with its rigorous procedures.

“We must continue to rely on the support of partners to help us identify and address any gaps in enforcement, and to further strengthen and improve our coverage of assurance and oversight of labor standards – be it through our formal grievance process or other mechanisms,” RSPO said,

Since 2018, RSPO members have been required to produce photographic identification and additional evidence to verify the age of all workers.  It said that its 4,900 members have committed to a standard that was unsurpassed by any other agricultural scheme.

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