BANGKOK – As growers have already committed to tougher sustainability standards under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) system, it was now high time for buyers to do their bit and contribute to a sustainable palm oil industry by buying more sustainable palm oil, said RSPO Co-Chair Anne Rosenberg on Wednesday (6/11) during the RT17 event.
‘The growers have already committed to a much tougher standard…it is only fair and also absolutely necessary, that buyers now step up in a similar way,” Rosenberg said while closing the 17th Annual Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil here.
“Put money where your mouth is, so to speak, and buy more sustainable palm oil,” she called on buyers.
The RT17 conference theme this year was “Shared Responsibilities: Converting Commitments into Actions,” and Rosenberg said that the organization has begun to tackle, to clearly define roles and responsibilities for all membership categories and how to ensure accountability in the spirit of shared responsibility.
“Not one stakeholder group can do it alone, we need to stop pointing fingers at one another and be more accountable,” she said.
She said that the recognition that making sustainable palm oil a norm was a collective responsibility, was what brought together the stakeholders to form the RSPO in the first place.
Coming from a Non-Governmental Organization, Rosenberg said that helping to raise awareness around sustainable palm oil is a way for NGO members to get more involved. She said that this was the NGO’s shares of responsibility.
“We all know sustainable palm oil is in desperate need for rebranding and part of this challenge is how to effectively communicate to consumers the sometimes very nuanced message that despite ongoing problems, supporting sustainable palm oil is actually a better approach for shifting the industry in the right direction than a total boycott,” she said.
Such a message, she added, would become more meaningful and credible when it comes from a social-environmental NGO rather than from a company as an industry actor.
She said that companies should also become more transparent and report on their progress in a consistent and measurable way.
The RT17 conference that kicked open with a series of preparations meetings on Sunday (4/11) was then followed upon its closure by the 16th General Assembly of the RSPO. Among the main agenda of the general assembly meeting, this year is to vote on a new certification standard for smallholders.
Throughout the conference, calls for more inclusion of smallholders, who account for around 40 percent of world palm oil production, has been the war cry.