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Sustainable palm oil: Marketing ploy or true commitment? New research examines RSPO standards

MEDAN, INDONESIA (7 November, 2013)Members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are violating the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in the forests and peatlands of tropical nations worldwide, according to a new research publication released today. The study details the performance of 16 oil palm operations, many run by RSPO members, reporting on their failure to uphold human rights and environmental standards required.

"Since its founding eight years ago, the RSPO has adopted good standards, but too many member companies are not delivering on these paper promises," said Norman Jiwan, Executive Director of Transformasi Untuk Keadilan Indonesia, a human rights organisation based in Jakarta. "The RSPO could still meet this challenge if it provides remedies for member companies' impacts on communities, but for that we need much stricter enforcement. The organisation's very credibility is at stake."

The book, Conflict or consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads, details cases in which palm oil producers have failed to obtain permission from communitiesa process required by the RSPO based on the UN mandate that is known as free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). The findings also support accounts of the destructive impact that the palm oil developments are having on indigenous peoples and local communities.

Advocates plan to circulate this research at the annual meeting of the RSPO, which takes place on 11-14 November in Medan, North Sumatra. Their outreach focuses on three themes:

  • Supply chainsthe journey of palm oil from the plantation to the processing plant to the consumer must be made transparent and fully traceable.

  • Enforcementthe mandate and capacity of the RSPO approved certification bodies must be expanded and enforced. Complaint procedures and conflict resolution mechanisms must also be given teeth.

  • Commitmentthe pledges by the RSPO me

Contact: Dan Klotz
Burness Communications

Gemma Humphrys
Forest Peoples Programme

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