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About Us

We are a not-for-profit that unites stakeholders from the 7 sectors of the palm oil industry: oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.

The RSPO has more than 4,000 members worldwide who represent all links along the palm oil supply chain. They have committed to produce, source and/or use sustainable palm oil certified by the RSPO.

Vision & Missions

RSPO will transform markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm

  • Advance the production, procurement, finance and use of sustainable palm oil products
  • Develop, implement, verify, assure and periodically review credible global standards for the entire supply chain of sustainable palm oil
  • Monitor and evaluate the economic, environmental and social impacts of the uptake of sustainable palm oil in the market
  • Engage and commit all stakeholders throughout the supply chain, including governments and consumers.

Who we are


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RSPO Who We Are - Slide Infographic [PDF]
31 Jan 2019
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About sustainable palm oil

What is Certified Sustainable Palm Oil? We call it palm oil that was certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) according to specific criteria. By respecting those criteria, we can help to reduce the negative impacts of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities.

Why do we use palm oil?

Palm oil is used in many of the products on supermarket shelves, from margarine and chocolate to ice cream, soaps, cosmetics, and fuel for cars and power plants. The reason why palm oil is so popular is because:

  • It has great cooking properties – it maintains its properties even under high temperatures.
  • Its smooth and creamy texture and absence of smell make it a perfect ingredient in many recipes, including baked goods (such as biscuits) in particular.
  • It has a natural preservative effect which extends the shelf life of food products.
  • It is also the highest-yielding vegetable oil crop, which makes it very efficient. It needs less than half the land required by other crops to produce the same amount of oil. This makes palm oil the least expensive vegetable oil in the world.

India, China, Indonesia and Europe are the main consumers of palm oil. It is estimated that a French person consumes on average 2 kg of palm oil per year, or 6% of total fat consumption of an adult between the ages of 18 and 72 (source: Fonds Français pour l’Alimentation et la Santé, Etat des lieux, November 2012).

What is the impact of palm oil farming on the environment?

In some regions, oil palm cultivation has caused – and continues to cause – deforestation. This means that land, which was once predominantly covered by primary forest (forest that has never been touched by man) or which housed protected species and biodiversity, was cleared in order to be converted into palm oil plantations.

Likewise, some palm oil plantations were developed without consulting local communities over the use of their land. Some have even been responsible for forcibly displacing people from their land. Violations of workers’ rights to fair payment and safe working conditions and other malpractices have also occurred.

Despite widely-reported malpractices in the industry, a growing number of players in the palm oil industry have committed to adopting more sustainable practices. The result of this gradual transition is an increasing amount of palm oil in our products that has been produced and sourced in a sustainable manner.

Why can't we simply replace palm oil?

Although using other vegetable oils seems like a practical solution, it would actually create similar - if not even larger - environmental and social problems. Therefore, the best solution is to ensure you buy products that contain sustainable palm oil.

There is a misconception that these concerns can be addressed when companies simply stop using palm oil in their products. However, this is not as easy as it sounds for a number of reasons:

  • Replacing palm oil with other types of vegetable oil (such as sunflower, soybean or rapeseed oil) would mean that much larger amounts of land would need to be used, since palm trees produce 4-10 times more oil than other crops per unit of cultivated land. This would result in serious environmental damage, with the risk that more forests would need to be converted into agricultural land.
  • In producing countries, millions of farmers and their families work in the palm oil sector. Palm oil plays an important role in the reduction of poverty in these areas. In Indonesia and Malaysia, a total of 4.5 million people earn their living from palm oil production. Stopping the production of palm oil altogether would create significant problems for these people who support their families by working in this industry.
  • Replacing palm oil with other types of oil is not always feasible due to palm oil’s unique properties as food ingredient. Using other oils would not give the products the same texture and taste that palm oil offers.

The need for sustainable palm oil






In 2008, the RSPO developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize negative impacts.

One of the most important RSPO criteria states no primary forests or areas which contain significant concentrations of biodiversity (e.g. endangered species) or fragile ecosystems, or areas which are fundamental to meeting basic or traditional cultural needs of local communities (high conservation value areas), can be cleared.

Other RSPO principles stipulate a significantly reduced use of pesticides and fires; fair treatment of workers according to local and international labour rights standards, and the need to inform and consult with local communities before the development of new plantations on their land. You can learn more about RSPO's Principles and Criteria here.

Only by being RSPO-certified by an independent auditor approved by the RSPO can producers claim that they produce, use and/or sell sustainable palm oil.

History & Milestones



    • RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil for biofuels (RSPO-RED) marks milestone entry into Europe.


    • Revised Principles & Criteria approved
    • 784 delegates from 30 countries gather at RSPO RT11, the world’s largest meeting of sustainable palm oil in Indonesia.
    • First certification body accredited from accreditation body ASI to carry out RSPO certification.
    • First RSPO certification seminar held in China.


    • May - Achieved 6 million metric tonnes of RSPO CSPO in annual production capacity.
    • June - Anniversary of Trademark launch: 60 Trademark licences in 13 countries have been issued.


    • June - RSPO Trademark launched.
    • August - First million hectares of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) production area.
    • August - Inaugural certification of CSPO in Brazil by Agropalma.
    • August - 5 million tonnes of global CSPO production, or 10% total global palm oil production.
    • November - Over 1000 people from over 20 countries attend RT9.


    • First RSPO certificate issued to Daabon Group, Colombia.
    • October - RSPO membership reaches 500 Ordinary Members.


    • November - RSPO SCCS reviewed and adopted.


    • NIs of generic P&C for Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea approved.
    • August - Approval of 1st P&C certification for United Plantations. Inaugural shipment of CSPO arrives in Rotterdam in November.
    • August - RSPO Supply Chain Certification Systems (SCCS) developed and finalized.


    • October - Review of P&C by RSPO Criteria Working Group (CWG). Included public consultations, input from National Interpretations (NIs), smallholder taskforce deliberations and pilot field trial results.
    • November - RSPO Certification System approved by RSPO Executive Board, adopted by General Assembly (GA4) and officially launched at RT5 by then Hon. Minister of Plantations Industries & Commodities, Malaysia, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui in Malaysia.


    • Creation and adoption of Members’ Code of Conduct; RSPO Indonesian Liaison Office (RILO) established in Jakarta.


    • November - RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) adopted for initial pilot implementation period of two years by 14 companies.


    • April - RSPO formally established under Article 60 of the Swiss Civil Code.
    • August- 47 organizations sign a Statement of Intent declaring their intention to participate in the RSPO.


    • Inaugural meeting of the RSPO in Malaysia, attended by 200 participants from 16 countries, with adoption of the Statement of Intent, a non-legally binding expression of support for the Roundtable process. As of 31 August 2004, forty seven organisations have signed the SOI.


    • WWF commences exploring the possibilities for a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The result was an informal co-operation among Aarhus United UK Ltd, Migros, Malaysian Palm Oil Association and Unilever together with WWF in 2002.