Oil palm plantation in Sumatra. Photos by Rhett Butler
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) today called for greater collaboration between it and the leading implementer of zero deforestation policies, The Forest Trust (TFT).
In a letter posted on its web site, the RSPO noted that both organizations have a similar goal: improving the environmental performance of palm oil.
“Collaboration within RSPO members and externally with like-minded organizations is essential to delivering on our mission. The greater the number of engaged actors, the better our chance to transform the market to make certified sustainable palm oil the norm, and not a niche,” stated the letter. “The potential synergies between the RSPO and TFT are strong. We share similar intents. Consumers are relying on both of us to do the right thing.”
But despite the common goal, the letter says that the divergent standards may be sending a mixed message to the marketplace, confusing growers and buyers.
“If everyone relies on completely different criteria, achieving scale and maintaining flexibility will be difficult,” says the letter. “To maximize acceptance of these criteria, a broad spectrum of interests must agree on what the criteria should include. RSPO has done so by involving seven different stakeholder groups in the definition of its own standard.”
The letter goes on to invite TFT to re-engage with the RSPO.
TFT very publicly resigned from the RSPO in 2012 over what it perceived as weak criteria for limiting deforestation and peatlands conversion for oil palm plantations. TFT has since brokered a number of “zero deforestation” commitments from major palm oil producers, traders, and buyers, including Neste Oil, Ferrero, Reckitt Benckiser, Wilmar, New Britain Palm Oil, Cerelia, Vandemoortele, Mars, Florin, and Delhaize Group, among others. Those agreements were modeled after policies TFT established with Nestle and Golden-Agri Resources. TFT is also implementing Asia Pulp & Paper’s forest conservation policy.
The RSPO is a multistakeholder body that sets social and environmental criteria for palm oil production. Many of the world’s largest palm oil companies are members as are a number of major environmental groups and palm oil buyers.
RSPO LETTER ON TFT
Solving the problems caused by unsustainable palm oil cultivation, including loss of tropical
Much has been achieved over the last decade. Yet deforestation and social conflicts provoked
Collaboration within RSPO members and externally with like-minded organizations is
One such organization is The Forest Trust (TFT). As a key player in the struggle against
Palm oil is a commodity with little regard given to who produces it and to where it is
Some end users, however, aspire to achieve a higher level of sustainability assurance by
This model, as proposed for example by TFT, has three main challenges. Firstly, growers
Secondly, if everyone relies on completely different criteria, achieving scale and maintaining
Thirdly, in this model, once palm oil has been produced sustainably, the next step is ensuring
These challenges reinforce the importance of collaboration between RSPO and TFT.
RSPO welcomes the role of market leaders who use its standard as the building block of a
RSPO Secretary General