RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) is a worldwide multi-stakeholder initiative focusing on certification and promotion of sustainably produced palm oil. In November of 2018, an RSPO conference (RT16) was held in Sabah, Malaysia. Save the Orangutan participated in the conference to actively promote increased protection of the critically endangered orangutan and its habitats, which are threatened by oil palm plantations. New criteria for RSPO focus on stopping the deforestation and increasing the protection of peat forests in the production of sustainable palm oil.

”We choose to participate and support RSPO as it is the best certification alternative on the market in terms of actual influence in and positive development of the palm oil industry. The Bornean rainforests are under a lot of pressure from oil palm plantations, and it is essential that such a big and still growing industry take the environment, communities, and nature into account in a sustainable manner. We as a world society need to act now if we want to conserve our beautiful nature,” Head of Programmes at Save the Orangutan, Marie Sigvardt explains.

oliepalme plantager
Deforestation of HCV and HCS forests for the benefit of oil palm plantations has to be stopped. This was one of the major topics to decide on at the RSPO conference, RT18.

New and improved criteria put to vote and approved in November

At RT16, several discussions on the possibilities and challenges of the current RSPO came up. Specifically, a vote on new principles and criteria was presented, and they will now be updated for the third time since the establishment of RSPO.

The new criteria were approved in a vote by a large majority (212 for and 19 against), and they contain a number of revisions. Most significant is the introduction of a distinct demand of ”No Deforestation” for manufacturers holding the RSPO certification. This applies to forests with HCV (High Conservation Value), HCS (High Carbon Stock), and peat forests that have not been protected prior to this.

However, the theme of the debate about RSPO continues; how the certification should be implemented more efficiently, and whether the businesses actually comply with the obtained certification. At Save the Orangutan, we will continue to reluctantly celebrate the success, but we remain hopeful in light of the new criteria and the general development of RSPO.

”RSPO is a platform that has proven capable of assembling people. Even though improvements are necessary, integrated solutions and common standards across the sectors are the ways forwards if we are to succeed in dispersing an effective tool and a new norm for sustainable production of palm oil for the benefit of nature and the wildlife.”

Read more about RSPO here >>