Where can we go from here?
As the debate about whether ‘sustainable’ palm oil is an oxymoron continues to rage, forests continue to fall. The situation in Sumatra is desperate, but it is not without hope. As well as reclaiming and restoring forests, we are working hard, alongside our NGO and private sector colleagues, to break the link between development and deforestation, thereby ensuring that forests are kept safe from the bulldozers and chainsaws. This means finding ways for the locals to improve their income without chopping down rainforest trees.
Who are the RSPO and can they be trusted?
SOS is an active member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organisation which brings together companies that produce, trade, use or invest in palm oil, alongside conservation and social NGOs. We have been working for many years, alongside partners, to strengthen the RSPO standard, and just this week (November 2018) the RSPO has launched a new, improved version of this standard, which will deliver deforestation-free palm oil.
Until companies’ palm oil production is certified according to the new standard, we advocate the production and use of responsible palm oil produced according to the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) Charter. POIG is a collection of NGOs and progressive palm oil producers that have established a detailed set of values that build on the RSPO standard and stipulate that palm oil operations must be free from deforestation, destruction of peatlands, and human rights abuses.
It is crucial that companies who commit to clean up their supply chain turn this aspiration into action. Deforestation-free palm oil needs to be a reality for all.
- We need palm oil producers to stop converting forests and peatlands to palm oil plantations. Instead, they could use degraded land or increase yields on existing plantations. They also need to be transparent about their production methods and avoid labour, land and human rights violations.
- Companies selling products made with palm oil and its derivatives need to source responsibly-produced palm oil, ensuring their supply chain is traceable, and communicating honestly with their customers about their progress on the journey to using solely responsible palm oil.
- As a consumer, you can research which retailers and manufacturers are committed to removing deforestation from their products (check out a fantastic bar-code scanning app called Giki!), join social media campaigns to drive the industry in the right direction, and support conservation organisations who are working to break the link between palm oil and deforestation.