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The Outreach and Engagement (O&E) department plays a vital role in the growth and development of the organisation. Led by Dan Strechay, who was previously the U.S. Representative of the RSPO, the department’s diverse team focuses on outreach and engagement of stakeholders, communications, event planning and marketing, and the RSPO Trademark. Dan was officially appointed as director of the department in March this year and has plans in motion to improve RSPO’s responsiveness to its members, streamline communications, increase internal capabilities, and help his teammates to grow and reach their full potential.
First, could you tell us what outreach and engagement even means?
Tell us about your vision and goals for the O&E department, and your plans to achieve them.
You’ve been at the RSPO for 4 years and previously led the Secretariat's efforts in the North American market, which saw more than 500% growth in membership during that time. Tell us the biggest opportunities and challenges you’ve seen in that market and markets around the world. Are brands becoming more receptive to sustainable palm oil, and how?
I think the opportunities are huge in places like India and China and we have seen good initial growth in these markets, especially China. I’m actually very bullish on the Asian markets and hopefully they’ll outpace the growth that we have in North America. Coming out of the Covid-19 situation we have an opportunity where consumers are thinking fundamentally about how we interact with our environment and what the consequences of our actions or inaction will mean for us.
In terms of promoting RSPO, how does the O&E team increase awareness of the organisation?
We also want people to understand that we are not trying to create a boutique supply chain. We are creating a supply chain for all consumers, regardless of region. For markets that are already way ahead, like Europe and the United States, we want to ensure we maintain demand for sustainable palm oil. At the same time, we work on emerging markets for sustainable palm oil, namely China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. We have to create a value proposition that is specific to these markets. So, we leverage programmes like Youth in Sustainability (YiS) in Indonesia, partner with organisations like the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CFNA), or we use the I-SPOC group in India to leverage multinational corporations to prime the pump for sustainable palm oil.
What are some of the challenges that the O&E team face in convincing potential members to join RSPO and/or meeting their time bound plans for 100% CSPO?
In terms of 100% commitment, we have already reached the half-year point of 2020, and at this juncture, we should know that a lot of companies will not hit their 100% targets. But that is not to say that not a lot has been achieved, instead, we have to recognise what has been achieved, and that we are making a lot of progress in transforming this industry. That being said, our members must recommit and redouble their efforts to fulfil their policies as soon as possible and in making sustainable palm oil the norm for consumers - globally.