October 26, 2012

A Tenth Anniversary for Sustainable Palm Oil

The annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil begins next Monday. Hosted in Singapore, the meeting will celebrate RSPO’s tenth anniversary of working towards sustainable business models. It will provide a platform for the various stakeholders in the industry to reflect on advancements and lessons of the past decade, and to express views on what should be the future of sustainable palm oil. Multistakeholder processes are the foundation of the RSPO, which promotes a collaborative agenda and decision-making by consensus.

Why is there a need for sustainable palm oil? Oil palm stands as the most widely produced and most consumed edible oil crop around the globe. Fortunately, oil palm is one of the most productive plant oil sources. Unfortunately, it is also one of the major drivers of deforestation in many equatorial countries. Because of these factors, oil palm presents a prime opportunity to support livelihoods of local producers and improve food security, while building sustainability into a globally important commodity crop. Secretary General of the RSPO Darrel Webber stated that “it is in the interest of everyone to ensure that palm oil continues to serve the gifts it offers, while ensuring that its detrimental consequences through unsustainable practices are discontinued.”

Initiated in 2002 as an informal cooperation between Aarhus United UK Ltd., Malaysian Palm Oil Association, Unilever, and WWF, the RSPO brings together stakeholders in production, processing, manufacturing, retailing, investment, and environment to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. Certification began five years ago, and an increasing number of initiatives are trying to tackle the issue of sustainable palm oil production. One such initiative, the Biodiversity in Agricultural Commodities Program (BACP), has been featured on the Landscapes Blog before, and grantees of the program will be participating in the upcoming roundtable.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see what comes out of the meeting, with industry executives, tradespeople, farmers, and conservationists all congregating in the same venue. Stay tuned for updates and other posts related to the topic of business, markets, and supply chains!

You can also follow @RSPOtweets and #RT10_RSPO for updates on the meeting.

Photo credit:  Tim Cronin/CIFOR
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3 Comments

  • Rachel Friedman
    November 14, 2012 at 2:42pm

    Good question! We seem to be operating in baby steps toward sustainability…and that depends on how you define “sustainable.”

    • Jeremy
      November 15, 2012 at 10:15am

      OK. So let’s try another tack; do Ecoagriculture Partners or this blog have a definition of sustainability that they would care to share? And where can people find out “what comes out of the meeting, with industry executives, tradespeople, farmers, and conservationists all congregating in the same venue”?

  • Jeremy
    October 29, 2012 at 9:04am

    Is palm oil sustainable yet?