On June 3rd, the third European roundtable of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) took place. This is a worldwide initiative with a focus on making the production chain of palm oil sustainable. Apart from being Both ENDS’ deputy director, Paul Wolvekamp is also a board member of RSPO. OneWorld held an interview with him. “It is important to collectively take responsibility. Everybody has to contribute.”
Both ENDS has, as a member of the RSPO, participated in a dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Netherlands is the largest importer of palm oil in Europe and wants to promote sustainable trade and production chains.
Sustainable trade and production initiatives are interesting steps on the way to sustainability. In the past years, Both ENDS has been involved in several sustainability initiatives, such as Fair Flowers and Fair Plants, Forest Garden Tea and the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Likewise, through our network of locally-based partner organizations, we monitor the consequences of global trade in general and the development of sustainability initiatives in particular. Both ENDS and partner organizations have in-depth knowledge about the diversity of challenges that sustainability initiatives face
Alfred Lahai Brownell, director of our Liberian partner organization Green Advocates has won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize last month. He is awarded for his efforts to protect Liberian rainforest from palm oil concessions. In the past, Both ENDS has worked with Alfred Brownell and his organization which filed a complaint against palm oil company GVL.
Last week the 11th Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil was held in Medan , Indonesia. One of the issues central to the discussions was the increasing conflict over land use, especially in Indonesia, but increasingly elsewhere in Asia, Africa and Latin America . The cause: the poorly controlled production of palm oil, a raw material for a wide range of products such as food and cosmetics, and as biofuel as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Civil society organisations from around the world condemn the statements by representatives of palm oil companies during a meeting with the Malaysian government. In this meeting, the company representatives called critical NGOs "toxic entities" and asked the Malaysian government to not let these NGOs into the country. Both ENDS' partners have published a reaction in which they defend their right "to expose the realities we face in their communities about the impacts of the palm oil sector".
By 2020, the EU wants a larger percentage of fuel used for transportation to consist of renewable sources, such as biofuel. Many European countries have therefore made the blending of biofuels in diesel and gasoline mandatory. A large proportion of this biofuel is now palm oil.
In 2005, a palm oil company approached the villagers of Kiungkang in West-Kalimantan, Indonesia, with offers to convert their farms to oil palm smallholdings. Many farmers agreed to the proposal because of the high monthly incomes promised by the company that they could earn from the oil palms. Unfortunately, the palm oil dream turned out to be an illusion.