Palm Oil Industry Comes Together In Significant Sustainability Initiative

8 July 2014 - The world’s largest palm oil players have taken a significant step forward in sustainability, by committing to the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto which sets higher standards for growers, traders, end users, and other stakeholders. The Manifesto demands increased commitment to sustainable production right across the supply chain and is an important step the industry is taking to set the direction for sustainable agriculture.

The Manifesto commits its signatories to no deforestation, creating traceable and transparent supply chains, and protecting peat areas, while ensuring economic and social benefits for the local people and communities where oil palm is grown. These standards are higher than, and in addition to, those set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), of which all signatories are members.

Five oil palm growers – who are the largest in the industry, together producing more than 9% of the world’s palm oil – were the first to sign the Manifesto. They are Sime Darby Plantation, IOI Corporation Berhad, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad, Musim Mas Group, and Asian Agri. Other signatories include global palm oil trader Cargill and Apical.

These signatories, along with global agribusiness group, Wilmar International Limited, will also be funding research to define what constitutes a High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest and to establish HCS thresholds that take into account environmental, socio-economic and political factors in developing and emerging economies.

Unlike High Conservation Value (HCV) areas, which are areas of critical importance in terms of ecological, social or cultural value, HCS needs further study to establish appropriate thresholds that will not stifle the economic development of nations while ensuring that environmental concerns are addressed. The research will establish these, and determine suitable assessment methods to identify HCS forests, which will be excluded from future oil palm plantation development.

Speaking on behalf of the five growers, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Mohd Bakke Salleh, President and Group Chief Executive of Sime Darby Bhd, said that while the signatories include many of the industry’s key players, the Manifesto is an open invitation to all stakeholders in the palm oil value chain, including civil society and environmental groups, to sign up and work together to increase momentum in the drive towards sustainability.

“This Manifesto represents an important milestone for the global palm oil industry. As the world’s leading palm oil producers, we want to make clear our commitment to driving progress towards sustainability in the industry, and across all sustainable agriculture, and to leading by example.”

“While many of these growers have been consistently improving their sustainability performance over the last five years, the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto puts their commitment in writing and calls on the rest of the industry to follow their lead,” Mohd Bakke said.

The Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto aims to build upon the signatories’ existing commitments to the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The RSPO’s Principles and Criteria have established the foundation for the growing, production, processing and trading of sustainable palm oil. It is currently the only sustainability standard available in the global edible oil industry, making palm oil the only edible oil produced on a large scale that adheres to stringent social and environmental standards.
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