Global stakeholders from the palm oil industry gathered for the RSPO Annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT2022) recently, the first in-person meeting to take place since the pandemic. Centered around the theme, ‘Scaling up the Sustainable Palm Oil Value Chain Through Collective Action’, RT2022 attracted almost a thousand participants in discussing critical labour issues, increasing smallholder inclusion, the value of certification and further advancements to mitigate climate change impacts.
During his Roundtable speech new CEO Joseph D’Cruz launched the 2022 Impact Report which highlighted RSPO members’ progress across a range of sustainability indicators.
“Sustainability is a journey, and together with my team and all of our members, RSPO will continue to blaze the trail for the palm sector,” explained D’Cruz. “We will demonstrate how palm oil production and use can be an important contributor to net zero commitments; to highlight the role sustainable palm production plays in providing decent, dignified lives and prosperity for millions of rural families across the developing world; and to show how well-managed, regenerative oil palm plantations can be a crucial contributor to species conservation and biodiversity.”
The Impact Report revealed key achievements over the last two decades since the founding of RSPO including the increase of global certified area from 125,000 hectares in three countries in 2008 to 4.5 million hectares across 21 countries. An estimated 500,000 workers in estates and mills are now represented under RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) through certification.
In addition to this, greenhouse gas emissions prevented since 2015 have been equivalent to nearly 400,000 cars driven annually. A smallholder group of around 5000 farmers in Sierra Leone became the first Independent Smallholder Group to achieve certification in Africa.
“Sustainable palm oil is undoubtedly the best way to meet the world’s vegetable oil needs today and in the future,” added D’Cruz.
Co-Chairs of the RSPO Board of Governors Anne Rosenbarger and Dato Carl Bek-Nielsen called for a unified response to maximise the sector’s potential to sustainably transform the palm oil value chain.
“At a time when the global community is demanding real and viable solutions to save our increasingly warming planet, RSPO has shown that it plays an active role in harnessing the positive impacts of sustainable palm oil production, leading to sustainable development,” D’Cruz said. “Our efforts and transformation drive must continue, as change is a necessity for all of us. While sustainability is a shared responsibility, it requires individual change – if we are to cross the finish line together and make an impact, we are duty bound to take on a greater level of ownership and accept that there is always room for improvement.”
Members also reflected that the RSPO needs to summon “greater interest” from priority consumer markets including China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia in choosing sustainable palm oil and joining the collective initiative for RSPO to have a transformative impact on the supply and demand for sustainable palm oil.
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Editor, International Bakery
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