Paul Wolvekamp in board RSPO
Last week Both ENDS’ deputy director, Paul Wolvekamp, was elected board member of the RSPO, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Until November, when new elections will take place. “I hope that after the next elections my place will be taken by a social NGO from the South, because that group is not represented well enough in the RSPO.” Therefore Paul, within the RSPO, aims for a stronger voice of NGO’s, plantation workers and small-scale palm oil producers in the South.
What does the RSPO do?
“The RSPO is a multi-stakeholder platform that aims to make the palm oil sector sustainable”, Paul explains. “The international demand for palm oil is growing, that’s a fact. Palm oil is an important product with a high economic yield per hectare. Unfortunately, the expansion of palm oil cultivation is often accompanied by large-scale deforestation and land conflicts, and in most cases the local population is powerless. The RSPO promotes sustainability in the sector by setting production requirements and by stimulating the market towards buying sustainable, certified palm oil.”
“The RSPO has made progress with certification, but still faces big challenges. The RSPO brings together plantations, processors, traders, retailers, banks, investors and NGO’s. Unfotunately NGO’s from the South are hardly represented. That's a shame, because they are committed to protecting not only the environment but also the rights and needs of plantation workers, local village communities and small-scale growers. Now, the ecological and social/human rights problems are accumulating.”
“In addition, there is a growing number of land conflicts, particularly between plantation companies and local (indigenous) village communities. Private companies, state-owned enterprises and investors acquire large tracts of land for the development of palm oil plantations. This deprives local families of their land and of the possibility to provide themselves and their community with food and income. This is mainly due to the lack of sufficient regulation, enforcement and investment by governments in producing and consuming countries. The platform can make a real difference here, and I’d like to encourage this!”
“A third point I want to commit myself to is the compliance of the certification requirements. Companies that have received an RSPO certificate must, of course, (continue to) live up to the agreements.”
"The palm oil sector is important, also for the Netherlands. It is crucial to invest in the sustainability of this sector. Since Dutch businesses are importing a lot of plam oil, this is a task for the Dutch govenrment. The RSPO shows the Dutch government that it has to take its responsibility. The platform has the possibility to address these problems, and we shouldn’t miss that opportunity”
Both ENDS has been a member of the RSPO since 2006, but has been actively involved in the fight against unsustainable palm oil production since the 1990’s. Both ENDS has been a pioneer in raising these issues like deforestation and lack of land rights in the public and political debate.
Photo: oneVillage Initiative
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