RSPO takes further steps towards a less harmful palm oil sector
The production of palm oil is often accompanied by deforestation, environmental destruction and land grabbing. Local communities and activists who stand up against these problems are often threatened. Now the RSPO has taken significant steps in recent months to tackle these issues.
The RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) is the platform where palm oil producers, traders, processors, vendors and social organizations make agreements about making the palm oil sector less harmful. Both ENDS is represented in the board and can thus be the voice of its partner organizations within the RSPO. In recent times we have achieved important successes.
Stricter rules on deforestation
The RSPO's general assembly of 15 November revised its standards, the "Principles and Criteria". The new standard has tightened the requirements for the palm oil sector: zero-deforestation, zero-peat and zero-exploitation. The latter concerns in particular working conditions and land rights.
As far as zero-deforestation is concerned, until now only so-called High Conservation Value forest was protected against felling for palm oil plantations. Stricter requirements apply with the new rules, according to which no forest at all can be cut for palm oil. This is of great importance for communities that depend on forest and on climate and biodiversity.
The new rules, the so-called High Carbon Stock (HCS) and High Conservation Value (HCV) approach, include not only stricter environmental requirements, but also stricter social guidelines, with more attention to land rights and FPIC (free, prior and informed consent).
Policy to protect human rights defenders
Earlier this year, the board of the RSPO already established rules for the protection of human rights defenders, whistleblowers and community leaders. All member organizations of the RSPO (including Both ENDS) must have policies to protect these people. Both ENDS and partner organizations Forest Peoples Program and Oxfam Novib had submitted a resolution to this effect at the general assembly of RSPO in 2016.
In addition, the RSPO has set up a list of all regions where human rights defenders are at risk of threats and violence. This was a request of indigenous leaders, whose communities are affected by advancing palm oil plantations. Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Program have facilitated a visit of an indigenous leaders' delegation to the European RSPO conference in Paris in June of this year. The risk inventory is of great importance, because especially in the Latin American and African countries where the expansion of palm oil is relatively new, human rights are under heavy pressure.
One of RSPO's biggest challenges now lies in the strict compliance with the standards - by the members, in particular the plantation companies, the certification bodies and RSPO itself.
For more information
Read more about this subject
The production of palm oil is causing social and environmental problems worldwide. Both ENDS is working to make the sector fairer and more sustainable and is promoting alternatives for palm oil.
Publication / 27 June 2018
News / 28 February 2018
Human Rights defenders from all over the world visit EU to call for strong measures against deforestation
This week, from 12 until 16 February, fourteen indigenous leaders and human rights defenders from forest countries came to the Netherlands to call upon Dutch policy makers to take serious action against human rights abuses, land grabbing and further deforestation in relation to large scale agriculture, timber logging and mining. The Dutch harbours of Rotterdam and Amsterdam receive enormeous amounts of soy and palm oil, both for the Dutch market and for further transport into Europe and elswhere.
News / 28 June 2018
Last week, indigenous leaders from various countries were in Paris to urge action on deforestation and human rights abuses at the multi-stakeholder meeting of the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership. The group, invited by Forests Peoples Programme and Both ENDS, presented a publication 'Supply chain solutions for people and forests' containing a set of practical recommendations from local communities on how to make supply chains more sustainable and fair.
Blog / 18 January 2019
Unambitious and uninspiring: the European Commission’s proposal for stepping-up action on global deforestationBy Michael Rice
After five years of equivocation the European Commission has proposed a ‘roadmap’ for stepping-up EU action to address its contribution to global deforestation. Despite the escalating impact of EU trade in forest-risk commodities, regardless of repeated calls from the European Parliament for regulatory measures and contrary to the conclusions of the Commission’s own feasibility study in support of legislative intervention, the Commission has ruled-out out any new initiatives, let alone any legislative measures. The Commission’s solution to this complex problem: policy coherence.
Publication / 26 July 2018
News / 14 June 2019
Last Thursday June 13, Rahmawati Retno Winarni of TUK, an Indonesian partner organisation of Both ENDS, presented a symbolic tree and an appeal to the Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten, also on behalf of 10 NGOs. The joint NGOs are pushing the EU, including the Dutch government, for strict EU legislation to prevent the destruction of forests and ecosystems and to protect human rights.
Publication / 28 February 2018
News / 3 March 2015
Under the pretext of a ‘Natural Resource Management Project’ funded by the World Bank, the Kenyan Forest Service has, again, started to forcibly evict the indigenous Sengwer people from their ancestral lands in the Kerangany Hills and to burn down their houses. This was documented on March 2nd, by a fact-finding team that was sent to the ground by the World Bank’s own inspection panel.
News / 15 May 2018
Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Program have formally requested the European Parliament, Commission and Council and the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, to consult indigenous and local communities impacted by EU trade in palm oil and other agricultural commodities in formal EU policy deliberations on these topics. Why did we decide to do so and what's it all about? Our colleague Michael Rice sheds some light on the matter.
News / 2 August 2019
The EU is still one of the world’s largest importers of deforestation: EU demand for commodities like soy, palm oil, beef, coffee and cacao requires millions of hectares of tropical rainforest to be cleared. This deforestation has significant biodiversity and climate impacts, and is often linked to human rights violations and violence against local communities and indigenous peoples. Both ENDS and partners have been actively lobbying the EU Commission to adopt a robust action plan to address and prevent human rights violations and deforestation ‘embodied’ in EU imports of agricultural commodities.
News / 24 October 2017
On 30 September 2017 Both ENDS submitted a position statement on the draft Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil National Action Plan. The draft National Action Plan purports to represent a blue print for improving the sustainability of the Indonesian palm oil industry. However, Both ENDS has significant concerns about the logic, rationale and purpose behind the draft National Action Plan and its legitimacy as a benchmark for a sustainable palm oil industry.
News / 5 September 2016
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.
Both ENDS works with partners around the world to ensure that land is governed fairly and inclusively and managed sustainably with priority for the rights and interests of local communities.
Publication / 18 November 2013
News / 30 June 2017
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.
Blog / 29 January 2018By Michael Rice
Pak Japin is a quiet, slim, and softly-spoken man from the village of Silat Hulu, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. I met him at a recent documentary screening in Bali on the fringe of the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) annual conference, where he spoke about his community's nine year-long conflict with palm oil company Golden Agri Resources Ltd (GAR).
News / 22 April 2013
Between 2010 and 2013, Both ENDS, within an alliance of Indonesian and Dutch organisations and universities, conducted a pilot project to improve the spatial planning in the district of Sanggau in West-Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, Indonesia, to help local communities with the recognition of their land rights. We can show you a beautiful documentary about one of the villages in this district, Terusan.
News / 26 October 2018
The sixth High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was held at the UN Headquarters in New York in July 2018. The HLPF provides an opportunity to review global progress towards achieving the SDGs and for countries to present their own Voluntary National Reviews of the implementation of the SDGs. At this year's HLPF, SDG 15, known as the 'Life on Land'-goal, was under review.
News / 15 November 2018
On Wednesday, November 14, Dutch Newspaper De Volkskrant published a joint op-ed by Both ENDS, Hivos, Greenpeace Netherlands and Witness about the deforestation in the Amazon region which is still going on rapidly, having disastrous consequences for the indigenous people who live in the area, for biodiversity and for the climate. The Netherlands is one of the largest buyers of Brazilian agricultural products such as soy and beef, and should ensure that deforestation, land grabbing and human rights violations do not occur in these production chains. Unfortunately, this is not at all the case yet.