Today, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) lifted its suspension of IOI Group, one of the world’s largest palm oil traders. IOI Group’s membership had been suspended from the palm oil certifying body four months ago due to evidence that IOI was clearing forests, draining peatlands, operating without proper licenses and failing to prevent fires in its PT Bum Sawit Sejahtera (PT BSS), PT Sukses Karya Sawit and PT Berkat Nabati Sawit concessions in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
The decision to suspend a giant producer and trader of this size sent shock waves through the global palm oil industry, while giving many longtime critics of the RSPO hope the body was finally taking real steps to hold its members accountable for the widespread environmental and social consequences of their business operations. Rainforest Action Network says the reinstatement of IOI is premature and demonstrates the certification systems lack of enforcement or willingness to hold its most powerful members to account for the impacts of their operations.
Gemma Tillack, Agribusiness Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network (RAN) issued the following statement:
“The decision to lift the suspension on IOI places the credibility of the entire RSPO certification system in doubt. The RSPO has once again risked its legitimacy by settling for half measures and has shown it is willing to certify companies that are operating in open breach of its own standards.
“This move shows that despite the RSPO’s efforts to strengthen its complaints procedure and adopt stronger standards via its flawed RSPO Next voluntary scheme, the body still falls short of the policy requirements of countless companies that have adopted robust no deforestation, no peatland, no exploitation policies.
Over two dozen companies have cut their ties with IOI Group following its suspension by the RSPO. These global brands and traders must continue to act independently to ensure that IOI addresses the violations of its sourcing policies prior to reconsidering the controversial company as a supplier.”
The decision to lift the suspension was made in spite of an appeal by a coalition of NGOs that urged the RSPO to maintain its suspension of IOI Group given that the company has not come into full compliance with the RSPO Certification Systems nor resolved outstanding complaints with the Long Teran Kanan community in Sarawak.
A coalition of NGOs outlined the actions needed to be taken by IOI Group before it is to be reconsidered as a supplier in a letter in May, 2016. The letter is available at http://www.ran.org/ioi_statement