News / 17 June 2015

Article OneWorld with Paul Wolvekamp: sustainable palm oil is race against time

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.”

The production of palm oil has increased tremendously during the past decades, but this has not been without consequences like large-scale deforestation, land expropriation and loss of biodiversity. RSPO aims to limit the negative effects on people and the environment by means of certification. Their goal is that by 2020, only certified palm oil is to be used in the EU. The Netherlands, which currently has a stake in sustainable palm oil of approximately 60 percent, hopes to achieve this goal by the end of 2015. However, Paul stresses that the Netherlands should not focus on sustainable palm oil alone: “For example, the import of whale meat is restricted in the port of Rotterdam. Such a restriction could also be implemented for non-sustainable certified palm oil.”


Small-scale sustainable production

RSPO represents all members of the palm oil production chain. That is also why Paul believes that RSPO certified palm oil should become the norm. “It is not always easy to collaborate with different stakeholders, who all have their own interests. But is all the more important to collectively take responsibility.” According to Paul, much can be achieved with small-scale farmers, as they have much knowledge of sustainable land use. “But then they should get better technical support, be able to organise themselves better, and be ensured of acquiring their land rights. Furthermore, they should get access to credit so that they can invest in and expand their business. If this would double their harvest, less acres of land would be needed in the face of growing demand.”


Both ENDS has been investing in the RSPO process for ten years now because of its aim to transform the palm oil sector. It is essential that RSPO certified palm oil becomes the norm on the worldwide market. Compared to other certification systems, RSPO is unique as it functions as a transparent platform for all stakeholders, and has strong standards on social, ecological and human rights aspects.

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