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KUALA LUMPUR, December 18, 2015: In response to the devastating land and forest fires affecting Indonesia every year, and in order to improve the monitoring and enforcement of its Principles & Criteria (P&C), the RSPO will publish its member's oil palm concession maps.
This commitment stems from an RSPO General Assembly resolution of November 2013 which required RSPO members to submit maps for all their palm oil concessions, however the legality of this resolution has since been under challenge in Indonesia and Malaysia, which led to a freeze in implementation.
After taking legal advice and extensive discussions with the key stakeholder in Indonesia and Malaysia, the RSPO can now confirm that it will publish all digital maps of its members oil palm concessions worldwide, except for Malaysia, where the legality of the public disclosure of concession maps continues to be ambiguous within the laws of the country. The RSPO will make this information publically available during the 2nd quarter of 2016 via the Global Forest Watch platform.
The RSPO requirement to share maps applies to all concessions, both certified and non-certified, owned by RSPO grower members, including smallholders, in all palm oil producing countries except Malaysia.
The forest fires taking place in South East Asia every year cause irreversible damage to the region’s primary forests, peatlands and biodiversity. The RSPO does not permit the use of fires within certified plantations, except under exceptional and controlled circumstances1, and is committed to working with stakeholders on the ground in order to eliminate deforestation and forest fires on the concessions of its members. To this end the RSPO uses an IT platform, accessible at www.globalforestwatch.org (GFW), to monitor and report on suspected fires.
However, fire monitoring activity is seriously constrained by the lack of a single, credible and up-to-date database of palm oil concession maps. This results in inaccurate data on fire hotspots and made it difficult for the RSPO to identify responsible parties and take action. Disclosure of map data by RSPO members was identified as the best currently available source of information to map land ownership of palm oil plantations.
The disclosure of RSPO members’ concessions maps is an important step in the joint process of creating an accurate, reliable and shared mapping and information system, recognised by all parties, to make sure that forest fires are effectively combatted.
1 Fire should be used only where an assessment has demonstrated that it is the most effective and least environmentally damaging option for minimising the risk of severe pest and disease outbreaks, and exceptional levels of caution should be required for use of fire on peat. This should be subject to regulatory provisions under respective national environmental legislation (Guidance for Criteria 7.7 of the RSPO P&C)
In response to the urgent and pressing global call for sustainably-produced palm oil, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with satellite offices in Jakarta, London and Zoetermeer (NL).
RSPO is a not-for-profit association that unites stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry - oil palm growers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs - to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.
Such multi-stakeholder representation is mirrored in the governance structure of RSPO such that seats in the Executive Board and project-level Working Groups are fairly allocated to each sector. In this way, RSPO lives out the philosophy of the "roundtable" by giving equal rights to each stakeholder group to bring group-specific agendas to the roundtable, facilitating traditionally adversarial stakeholders and business competitors to work together towards a common objective and make decisions by consensus.
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