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London, June 13, 2017 – RSPO membership has grown by almost 300 members in the last year and currently stands over 3,400 members. Of those required to submit their annual communication on progress on certified sustainable palm oil (ACOP), almost 67% did so and a further 255 members reported voluntarily, showing positive commitments of SME’s as these submissions were mostly from smaller, supply chain members. Total members submitting was 1,322 compared to 1,127 in the previous reporting period.
The RSPO disclosed the data at its annual European Roundtable event today in London, where some 400 delegates gathered to discuss innovations and partnerships to transform the palm oil supply chain towards sustainability in Europe and beyond.
The increase in voluntary submissions is an encouraging signal, showing that RSPO members are committed to transparency and that smaller businesses in consumer markets are getting more engaged with the RSPO.
The conference saw also the launch of new partnerships which will strengthen RSPO’s work in growing countries. The Roundtable signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) that aims to change business practices on children's rights and workers welfare in the palm oil sector.
Among the key actions supported by the MoU will be to pilot and implement a UNICEF workplace programme on rights of children and working families in the palm oil sector, mainstream child rights into RSPO sustainability standards and activities, as well as to create awareness on child rights among RSPO members.
“It’s important for the industry to acknowledge the social issues it faces if we want to find sustainable solutions. The signing of this MoU represents an opportunity to collaborate with UNICEF to promote best practices across the industry and address some of the existing gaps in our sector”, said Darrel Webber, Chief Executive Officer of RSPO.
The RSPO partnered with the World Resource Institute (WRI) to create “GeoRSPO”. This is an interactive mapping platform featuring concession maps submitted by RSPO grower members. The platform shows detailed satellite mapping information on RSPO members certified mills, land concessions, overlaid with information on tree cover, topography and any fire alerts. It is a powerful tool to monitor developments in RSPO members’ palm oil concessions.
Positive ACOP data, new partnerships and innovations presented at the conference demonstrated the broad commitment among palm oil stakeholders to continue the market transformation process.
The next step will be the completion of the second five-year review of RSPO’s Principles & Criteria (P&C), one of the key issues discussed at the event. Many European members are keen on taking active part in the process, alongside their counterparts from palm oil producing countries. Changes to the standard will have to be approved by the General Assembly of the RSPO in November 2018, upon recommendation by the appointed P&C Review Taskforce.