RAN Calls on RSPO to Strengthen Requirements

Criteria Fails to Comply with New EU Deforestation Regulations (EUDR)
RSPO Risks Undermining Credibility with Weakened Standards

Jakarta Time Zone | Gemma Tillack: +61 456 843 690
US Time Zones | Christopher Herrera:  510.290.5202

Interviews available during the RSPO Roundtable — 11/20-11/22

High resolution images available on request. 

(Jakarta, Indonesia) — This week’s 20th anniversary annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) coincides with a new RAN report, Keep Forests Standing 2023 Scorecard, which illustrates the failure of influential RSPO members to address the impact of palm oil production on tropical rainforests, carbon-rich peatlands, and the rights of Indigenous and traditional communities. The report delivers a detailed evaluation of the policies and actions taken by major brands — and their suppliers — and represents a stark warning to consumers that the existing RSPO standards and systems remain insufficient to comply with the requirements of the new EU Deforestation Regulation. The report states these systems must be strengthened to achieve transparent, traceable and responsible palm oil supply chains.

RAN’s Forest Policy Director, Gemma Tillack, issued the following statement at the outset of the RSPO conference:

“This is a pivotal moment in the palm oil industry’s decades-long attempts to remove the stain of forest destruction and human rights violations from its reputation. Yet we see deforestation and drainage of carbon-rich peatlands is on the rise in Indonesia’s protected Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve — the ‘Sumatran Orangutan Capital of the World.’ Bulldozers are tearing apart this protected area under the watch of RSPO members.

“We’ve caught RSPO members in the act of sourcing illegally produced palm oil from lands that have been deforested. Deforestation-tainted palm oil has continued to flow into global supply chains and products made by major brands like Procter & Gamble, Mondelēz,Colgate-Palmolive and Nestlé.

“This destruction is enabled by ineffective traceability systems that are commonplace in the palm oil sector. The reliance on the RSPO’s deeply flawed Mass Balance supply chain system is a key problem. 

“As the RSPO engages in the process of revising its core certification standard, RAN is concerned the RSPO may weaken its standard even further — at a time the organization should instead be working to close the significant existing loopholes that have been identified. The RSPO must address the failures of its assurance and grievance systems.

“To remain relevant, the RSPO must maintain and enforce a standard aligned with the No Deforestation, No Peatlands and No Exploitation (NDPE) practices — the global benchmark for responsible palm oil production. The standard must not be weakened to enable violations of land rights; to enable deforestation in Intact Forest Landscapes in High Forest Countries or jurisdictional certification programs; or to provide access to RSPO certified markets for Conflict Palm Oil produced by the local elites, the land speculators responsible for smaller-scale patterns of deforestation outside concessions across Indonesia.

“Civil Society Organizations are calling attention to the long list of cases left without remedy at the hands of the RSPO. RSPO must take a zero tolerance approach to violence, intimidation and criminalization of Human Rights Defenders that are taking action to protect their lands and livelihoods following the recent murder of a community member in the Bangkal village in Seruyan regency, Central Kalimantan

“The RSPO’s certification tick of approval must not be given to members that have failed to respect human rights, or prove that they have obtained Free, Prior and Informed Consent of indigenous communities affected by their existing or new palm oil developments.

“The greenwashing of companies involved in land grabbing and the RSPO’s failure to resolve grievances and land conflicts has persisted for 20 years. The lack of justice in the RSPO system simply can’t be tolerated.”

­­­The NDPE benchmark evolved from the Charter developed by the Palm Oil Innovation Group in 2013 and was integrated into the RSPO standard during its last standards review in 2018 following its adoption in the voluntary policies of many RSPO members and the Consumer Goods Forum.