Palm oil industry shifts gears, commits to market transformation | WWF

Palm oil industry shifts gears, commits to market transformation

Posted on 24 November 2011
Pak Gordy holding palm oil fruit, Sumatra, Indonesia
© James Morgan / WWF International
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia – The 9th annual Meeting of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) concluded today with a vote at the General Assembly (GA) where most RSPO members present supported a new vision for the organization – to transform the palm industry into one where sustainability becomes an everyday practice for all.

To date RSPO members have produced over 5.2 milion tonnes of palm oil certified to strict standards that help ensure that forests, species and communities are not harmed by palm oil production.

“The entire value chain needs to be part of the solution and not the problem,” said Adam Harrison, Senior Policy Officer for WWF UK and WWF’s representative on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Executive Board. “The RSPO has moved from just certifying growers to transforming the whole industry, which says to me that the organization is growing up and is starting to deliver on the ambition it set for itself. Nevertheless, in order for the RSPO to deliver on this transformation, companies along the entire value chain need to be more transparent and take control of the oil palm they are producing, trading, using and selling."

More transparency, better traceability

According to WWF, one of the major hurdles facing the future of CSPO is the industry’s overall lack transparency and limited efforts to implement proper traceability. The WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011, which was released in Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, identified both of these as major challenges, saying that the lack of collective will to solve these problems is risks becoming a major disincentive to further certification.

WWF says that buyers of CSPO need to take control of their supply chains and declare how much certified sustainable palm oil they are using. This would provide growers with the reassurance they need to say in business, and show consumers that they are serious about their commitments and acting responsibly.
Transforming the market also requires strong support from traders, who wield considerable influence. Traders must ensure the traceability of the palm oil they are buying and supplying to their customers, which could act as a major catalyst for future market growth and offer the assurances currently lacking along the supply chain.

Meanwhile, growers would benefit from increased transparency and better traceability by gaining a stronger sense confidence, more control over their management units, and an overall increase of returns on their commitment to providing certified sustainable palm oil.
Palm oil industry shows resolve in addressing climate change
Another key recommendation that emerged at the 3-day meet was that the RSPO’s Principals & Criteria should include a 0 net carbon emission clause, setting a new benchmark for companies that aim to produce palm oil in a responsible manner. 

"Reducing greenhouse gases is a huge challenge facing the industry in the region, and it is a very welcome sign that the RSPO has reached consensus on how to tackle GHGs and made a recommendation to change the organization’s standards to accommodate this critical issue," said Irwan Gunawan, WWF Indonesia’s Corporate Engagement Manager.


The RSPO has announced that due to insufficient quorum, eligible members that could not attend the General Assembly are expected to cast their ballots via email: 

On November 24th 2011, the 8th General Assembly for the RSPO Members was held at Sutera Harbour, Kota Kinabalu. Due to the insufficient quorum (50% of the total Ordinary Membership required: 549 in total), the 224 attending members voted that the following procedure be adopted:

    1.           I.          A balloting/voting process by the attending members of  all the resolutions proposed
    2.         II.          Thereafter, an email will be circulated to all eligible members who could not attend the General assembly, to cast their ballot on the individual resolutions.
    3.        III.          All votes received via email will be reconciled with those that were cast during the GA8 and all members will be informed on the final results which will also be published on the website.

No specific timeline was given for the results of the final vote.

For more information, please visit

Pak Gordy holding palm oil fruit, Sumatra, Indonesia
© James Morgan / WWF International Enlarge
WWF Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard 2011
© WWF Enlarge