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Kuala Lumpur, Thursday 19 November: The issues mentioned in the Associated Press (AP) article are completely and categorically banned under our certification standards. And, while the report focuses on women, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) strives to ensure that human rights are recognised and protected under our standard, be it for men, women, or children. Certified plantations commit to going beyond what is required by the law and have committed to a level of transparency that has helped us have a more open conversation on what is required to change the palm oil industry for the better. These allegations are in no way representative of our standard, and we condemn such conduct. If incidents like these are happening within our certified members’ concessions, we will investigate immediately. These appear to be selective cases that we are unable to verify without additional details, which so far, the AP or another party have yet to provide.
RSPO understands and acknowledges that women are often affected in different ways than men in the palm oil industry and therefore women require different or additional employment support. Our standards include recognition of women’s rights and needs as workers, which differ to male counterparts. The RSPO’s Principles and Criteria take a more inclusive approach that requires its members to develop systems that prevent sexual harassment and other potential harms that women are particularly vulnerable to at work. It also requires that women are given avenues to raise their grievances and have a say in how they can manage impacts on their daily work.
We strongly encourage any organisation or agency that has additional information about these allegations, or any violations of this nature found on RSPO member plantations, to submit a confidential complaint through our Complaints System or use our Human Rights Defender Hotline.
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. RSPO is a not-for-profit, international, membership organisation that unites stakeholders from the different sectors of the palm oil industry including oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs, and social or developmental NGOs.
This multi-stakeholder representation is mirrored in the governance structure of RSPO such that seats in the Board of Governors, Steering Committees and 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, facilitating traditionally adversarial stakeholders in working together to reach decisions by consensus, and achieving RSPO’s shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.
The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with satellite offices in Jakarta (ID), London (UK), Zoetermeer (NL), Beijing (CN) and Bogotá (CO).
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