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Palm oil sustainability body takes Next step



WWF has welcomed a move by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to launch RSPO Next, a voluntary add-on to the RSPO standard that provides a platform for innovative growers to demonstrate best practice in sustainable palm oil and help buyers deliver on their “no deforestation” commitments.

At the organizations’ 13th annual meeting, RSPO Next was featured as the next step for companies that want to build on the RSPO Principles & Criteria.

“Continuous improvement was a core design feature of the RSPO, and RSPO Next is a tangible demonstration of this principle being followed,” said Adam Harrison, WWF’s Lead on Palm Oil.

“WWF calls on all RSPO stakeholders to do their part to ensure the success of RSPO Next– Palm oil growers need to commit to implement RSPO Next, palm oil buyers need to commit to buying it and NGOs and banks need to commit to support it.”

At the meeting, the RSPO also focused on how to better deliver on the existing standard, which currently captures 20% of the palm oil industry, representing 12 million tonnes of palm oil and more than 3.2 million hectares of land managed to the organization’s high environmental and social standards.

The meeting also witnessed several districts in Indonesia and Malaysia coming forward to pioneer RSPO’s “jurisdictional approach” to certification – applying to a district as a whole rather than individual mills and plantations.  The process brings local governments, palm oil companies, and smallholders together to jointly pursue the same goal and is considered a crucial tool to make it easier for companies to act responsibly.

WWF also welcomed new initiatives to explore ways to improve and maintain the quality of the certification process and outcomes.

“While independent third party assessment is at the heart of RSPO’s ethos, this new initiative also enshrines quality control of those assessments as a priority,” said Harrison.   “It is not just independence we want from the assessors, but to know they can go to a site and ask the right questions and make good judgements on the adequacy of the answers.”