Ecuador has found its place on the world map as the second largest palm oil producer in Latin America. With production of 550,000 tonnes of palm oil in 2015 and 87% sourced directly from smallholders, Ecuador is one of the region’s main exporters.
In the context of sustainable palm oil, the jurisdictional approach involves the certification of palm oil production at the provincial level that uses a particular model of rural development. This approach allows local stakeholders to work with regional governments to improve the welfare of small-scale farmers while curbing the use of environmentally destructive practices, such as slash-and-burn clearing and the ironing out of supply chain inefficiencies.
The government of Ecuador achieved a major milestone by demonstrating firm support of sustainable palm oil. The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of Ecuador’s highest producing regions. Effort is concentrated on transforming parts of the landscape that have been deforested for agricultural use with a transversal focus on sustainability. To launch a pilot programme utilising RSPO principles, the government has established coalitions with stakeholders such as palm oil companies and non-profit organisations like Ancupa and UN-REDD (UN-Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).
The programme has many components, but is unique in that it seeks to link up with existing initiatives. It has partnered with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture and Environment. The ministry provides access to maps that pinpoint which areas are suitable for palm oil plantation. Certain tools also provide high resolution imagery of existing plantations. Another significant alliance was established with UN-REDD which focuses on developing strategies to produce sustainable palm oil with zero deforestation. In addition, workshops are held to introduce the concept of sustainability to smallholders and improve capacity building.
The jurisdictional approach utilises the government’s initiatives in collaboration with the private sector and NGOs to work towards long-term solutions for sustainable development. The efforts of the Ecuadorian government have demonstrated Ecuador’s interest in taking a jurisdictional approach for RSPO certification in areas where the pilot will be carried out.