Bangkok, Thailand- The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the largest globally recognized palm oil sustainability standard, said that now is the time for the organization to put meat into its commitment to achieving market transformation. RSPO’s chief executive said he believed that in order to achieve this shared vision, oil palm growers needed to be incentivized and rewarded for their hard work in implementing the stringent sustainability standards of the organization.
“Now more than ever is the time to put our words into action. This is why we’ve aptly themed our 17th Annual Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT17); A Shared Responsibility: Converting Commitments into Action,” RSPO Chief Executive Officer Darren Webber said on the RSPO official website about the upcoming conference. The annual roundtable, to be followed by an annual general assembly of members of the organization will take place in Bangkok on November 4-6, 2019.
He said that the last RSPO General Assembly meeting in October last year adopted the organization’s enhanced Principles and Criteria (P&C) in which members collectively made a renewed commitment to achieving market transformation, but at the same time, members also recognized that they still had a long way to go to make their shared vision a reality. The approaching dateline for the 2020 sustainability targets also added further pressure for more actions.
“If we are to achieve our shared vision, we must incentivize and reward the growers for their hard work in implementing these stringent standards. It’s time to make the next pledge and collectively work to drive market uptake and demand for certified sustainable palm oil, for this vision can only be fulfilled with shared responsibility for impact from all industry players,” Webber said.
Growers, especially independent smallholders who account for about 40 percent of the world’s oil palm plantation, have been complaining that not only was demand for sustainable palm oil still low, there was also a lack of incentives to motivate them to produce sustainable palm oil.
The first day of the conference on Monday, November 4, 2019, will see a series of discussion split in seven preparatory clusters touching on a wide range of challenges facing the industry, including the question of technical advancement, the championing of rights, the implementation of the no-deforestation policy, what was brewing in the RSPO complaint panel, how to bridge the gap between smallholders and markets, and the move towards deforestation-free supply chains in India, China and the Middle East.
The actual opening of the conference takes place on Tuesday, November 5. The conference’s keynote paper, “Feeding 9.5 Billion People Sustainably by 2050” will be presented by Sunny George Verghese, Co-Founder & Group CEO, Olam International Limited.
The conference will have five plenary sessions discussing the main issues facing the sustainable palm oil industry such as how to achieve shared responsibility, the need for action-oriented commitments to drive uptake, jurisdictional transformation, how to use evidence to drive change and how to galvanize independent smallholders to jump into the sustainability bandwagon.
Speakers and moderators come from RSPO and a broad range of stakeholders. They include corporations such as Bumitama, PepsiCo, Walmart, Unilever, New Britain Palm Oil Limited, and Univanich Palm Oil PCL, consultants like LiSeed Consulting, ACD Consulting, LCA Consultants, Climate Advisers, and major non-governmental organizations such as Proforest, Forest Peoples Programme, Conservation international, CERES, WWF, ISEAL Alliance, Fortasbi, Wild Asia, and Solidaridad.
They also include speakers from research institutes such as the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, the University of Kent and from the Zoological Society of London. Speakers also came from financial institutions such as ABN Amro Bank NV, as well as government representatives such as the head of the Indonesian district of Seruyan in Kalimantan and the Sabah Forestry Department of Malaysia.
After the closure of the conference, members of RSPO‘s 16th Annual General Assembly (GA16) will vote on a number of resolutions, including the new proposed RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard, a new sustainability standard adapted for independent smallholders without sacrificing the core principles of sustainability.
*The Palm Scribe is RT17 Official Media Partner, reporting from Bangkok, Thailand.