The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said its principles and criteria (P&C) are one of the world’s strictest sets of criteria on deforestation because the P&C include a total ban on deforestation and require oil palm growers to protect high conservation value areas, high carbon stock forests, besides rare, threatened or endangered species to minimize greenhouse emissions and prevent fire.
In a statement yesterday, RSPO chief executive officer Beverley Postma said halting deforestation, preventing fire on oil palm concessions, and protecting peatlands and biodiversity remain some of the toughest challenges in commodity supply chains.
"Over the past 10 years, the RSPO has worked continuously with our stakeholders to scale up our monitoring and enforcement efforts,” Postma said.
"We believe that our new suite of standards, adopted by our members in 2018, remains the best system available to help eradicate these issues,” she claimed in the statement, which was issued in response to Greenpeace’s report on certification.
According to RSPO’s statement, the organization recognizes that it cannot solve the problem of deforestation alone.
The RSPO said the solution requires collaboration and a shared effort across agricultural commodity industries and supply chains with governments and non-governmental organizations in all producing and consuming countries.
"RSPO rules ensure that all voices are fairly represented and that all decisions are reached by consensus. This requires the active participation of businesses and civil society in all twenty-two committees and working groups, followed by the approval of our elected board of governors, and the general assembly.
"This process may be slow at times, but it is unquestionably fair and transparent. It is disingenuous and untrue to state or imply that RSPO decision-making is dominated by any one part of the palm oil supply chain," RSPO said.
RSPO said that in recent years it has taken great strides to strengthen its commitment to transparency and accountability.
RSPO said that since 2013, it has been a requirement for RSPO grower members to submit concession maps and that in 2018, RSPO made available satellite data relating to members’ concessions and land cover through the public interactive map application GeoRSPO.
"This allows RSPO and its stakeholders to monitor and identify issues, such as land clearance and forest fires.
"The allegations of misconduct by our members identified in the (Greenpeace) report are in no way representative of our standards,” RSPO said.
RSPO said it strongly encourages any organisation or agency with additional information about violations of the P&C found on RSPO member plantations to submit a formal complaint through RSPO’s complaints system.
"The withholding of such information poses a barrier to our ability to independently investigate any alleged allegations and to bring about swift sanctions against those who violate our rules,” RSPO said.