Rainforest Action Network Responds to Newly Revised RSPO Standard

Calls for systems reforms to make newly revised RSPO standard impactful

Members of the world’s largest certification scheme for palm oil, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), voted today to strengthen its sustainability standard, called its Principles and Criteria.

The vote comes as many have been questioning the RSPO’s relevance in the marketplace, and as many palm oil traders, financiers and major consumer goods brands have independently elected to go beyond the RSPO standard, which has been criticized as weak because it allowed for deforestation and has poor enforcement.

Robin Averbeck, Agribusiness Campaign Director, at Rainforest Action Network (RAN) said:

“We welcome the decision to strengthen the RSPO’s certification standard to align with market expectations that palm oil companies will comply with ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ (NDPE) production practices. But it’s important to remember that a strong certification standard is meaningless without enforcement.

“The RSPO’s recent decision to not suspend Indofood—a RSPO ‘sustainably’ certified company proven to be systematically and illegally violating workers’ rights for over two years— is evidence of the failures of the RSPO system. A certification scheme which continues to allow labor exploitation to be certified and sold under a ‘sustainable’ label cannot last long.

“If the RSPO wants to retain its reputation in the marketplace, and show strong enforcement of its newly revised standard, it must suspend Indofood’s RSPO membership and certification until independently verified corrective actions are undertaken to remedy the systemic labor violations across Indofood’s plantations.

“The only system that is providing independently verified ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ palm oil is the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG). If the RSPO fails to reform its auditing, compliance and grievance systems it will continue to be a certification scheme criticized for greenwashing unsustainable practices.

“The RSPO is running out of time to gain credibility in the marketplace. RAN, and the world’s consumers, call for no delays or exemptions as the RSPO moves to put the revised standard into effect.”