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RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard 2019 - Local Interpretation

The RSPO Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard 2019 for the production of sustainable palm oil by ISHs (Resolution GA16-6f) was adopted at the RSPO 16th Annual General Assembly in Bangkok, Thailand, in November 2019.

This newly adopted standard aims to increase the inclusion of smallholders into the RSPO system through a mechanism that takes into consideration the diversity in challenges and situations faced by smallholders globally, together with their varying needs and concerns while adhering to the key pillars of RSPO’s Theory of Change (ToC): Prosperity, People and Planet.

The RSPO ISH Standard consists of Principles, Criteria, Indicators and Guidance, which describe legal, economically viable, environmentally appropriate and socially beneficial palm oil management and operations for ISHs. 

The RSPO recognises the distinctive nature/characteristic of ISHs in many different palm oil producing countries demographically, culturally, socially, economically or legally. The Standard Standing Committee has therefore decided that a Local Interpretation can be developed by the stakeholders in the palm oil producing country, where deem required, limited to the following items only:

  1. Definition of smallholders (including size threshold); 

  2. Applicable local laws and regulations pertaining to land and land-use rights and legality; and

  3. Any other matters relevant to the local context of ISHs.

This decision was agreed upon to avoid misinterpretation and confusion for the Standard implementers (i.e. smallholders and certification bodies) as the RSPO ISH Standard and the stepwise approach are new.

Stakeholders in the country can initiate establishment of a Task Force (TF) to produce its RSPO ISH Standard Local Interpretation. The Local Interpretation will be attached to the RSPO ISH Standard 2019 and will be subject to approval by the Standard Standing Committee.

The stakeholders in the country must notify the RSPO Secretariat in writing (through letter or email) about the TF establishment. Procedures for the establishment of a TF for a Local Interpretation are described in “Local Interpretation - RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard 2019” as attached.

For further information or clarification, please contact smallholder@rspo.org.