Clearing for oil palm in Riau Province, Indonesia.
The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), an alliance formed last year, has opened its doors to new members who commit to social and environmental safeguards that go beyond the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) eco-certification standard.
Founding members of POIG include three palm oil producers — Brazil-based Agropalma, Colombia-based DAABON, and Papua New Guinea-based New Britain Palm Oil — and four non-profits: WWF, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Forest Peoples Programme and Greenpeace. The initiative says it “aims to bridge the gap between responsible palm oil producers and the growing list of palm oil consumer companies such as Nestle, Ferrero, Unilever, L’Oreal, Safeway, DelHaize, Kellogg and Mars which have made ‘No Deforestation’ commitments and are demanding responsibly produced palm oil.”
“The Palm Oil Innovation Group is inviting progressive palm oil producers, processors, traders, manufacturers, consumers and financiers to join this initiative and tip the balance towards responsible palm oil,” said POIG in a statement. “We will prove that palm oil production does not need to be linked to forest destruction, social conflict or worsen climate change. All that is needed now is for other stakeholders to actively support innovation and improvements in the palm oil sector and demonstrate that business as usual is not longer tenable.”
POIG requires members to meet the requirements of its charter and producers to have at least 50 percent of their plantations already compliant with RSPO Principles and Criteria. POIG’s charter includes additional requirements to ensure palm oil is free from conversion of high carbon stock forests and peatlands as well as human and labor rights abuses.
Illegal clearing for oil palm in Riau Province, Indonesia
There have been substantial shifts in the palm oil industry in recent years, with more and more palm oil buyers mandating stricter sourcing standards. On the supply side, two of the world’s biggest palm oil producers and traders, Wilmar and Golden Agri Resources, have established zero deforestation policies, driven in part by pressure from environmental groups and buyers.
Palm oil production is presently the biggest driver of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. Environmentalists view its expansion into forests and peatlands as one of the biggest threats to endangered orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and pygmy elephants.
But countries like Indonesia and Brazil have vast areas of non-forest land that potentially suitable for oil palm, indicating that the industry can continue to rapidly expand without the need to clear forests.