SUBANG JAYA (April 25): The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) expects to release the third revised standards for its sustainable palm oil certification by November 2018, once it completes the review of the standards with multi-stakeholder groups which will start next month.
"RSPO is engaging with our seven multi-stakeholder groups that include palm oil farmers, processor and traders, banks and investors, consumer goods and manufacturers, environmental groups, civil societies and retailers. The first meeting will take place next month from May 23 to May 25," its chief executive officer Datuk Darrel Webber told reporters after officiating at the two-day "RSPO 2017 Roadshow", which started here, today.
"The process to update the RSPO certification will take one to two years, as we will consider ironing out many issues that will include issues with smallholders, labour, human rights, deforestation and sustainable palm oil traceability," Webber said.
He said the review was necessary as RSPO is adopting international best practices that update standards every five years.
"RSPO's first standard was first drafted in 2005 and launched in 2007. We want to keep our standard relevant to market needs as we keep up with the demands and requirements of palm oil buyers," he added.
According to Webber, the third revision of the RSPO standards will be "impact-oriented", with the outcome to be measured and benchmarked against the results achieved.
"We want to minimise subjectivity in our standards, especially in the principles and criteria section. At the end of the day, RSPO wants its standards to be more objective, and one that can be further quantified by tangible numbers," he added.
This year, RSPO will strengthen its jurisdictional approach, particularly in Malaysia, where the palm oil industry group is collaborating with state governments to have oil palm plantation lands certified by RSPO, Webber said.
"Land matters come under the state government's jurisdiction. In Malaysia, RSPO is starting its jurisdictional approach with Sabah to have all the planted acreages there to be sustainably certified," he said.
Webber added that RSPO is also in discussion with the local government of Central Kalimantan and South Sumatera to have all the oil palm plantation acreages there certified under the RSPO scheme.
"RSPO is transforming the market to make sustainable palm oil the norm, i.e. to set and implement a standard that is credible and leverages on local and global markets, while leaving no one behind," he added.
On European Parliament's vote to introduce a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the European Union trading bloc by 2020, Webber said RSPO is in the best position to meet the demands of a changing regulatory environment.
"To be honest, I do not know what the European Parliament's plan is. It will be very difficult for them to introduce a new certification system. We will not be lobbying as we are a non-partisan organisation, but we are the best organisation to address changing regulatory landscape, especially in the area of sustainable palm oil," Webber said.
"Germany and the Netherlands, for example, have committed to buy 100%-certified sustainable palm oil, and that intention has been communicated to us. With Unilever as part of RSPO's founding fathers, I think RSPO is the best organisation in the niche area of sustainable palm oil," he added.
Meanwhile, the two-day RSPO roadshow drew support from numerous industry players including Mars Food, Wilmar International, Control Union, Mewah Group, and the World Wide Fund (WWF) Malaysia.
The roadshow, said Webber, is one of RSPO's initiatives to encourage the uptake of certified sustainable palm oil and acquire more applications from local industry players in Malaysia.