Monday, March 12, 2012

"Breakthrough" as plantation expansion rule sees palm oil company hand back community land

Posted on 01 March 2012  |  0 Comments

Pontianak, Borneo – An Indonesian palm oil company has relinquished over a thousand hectares of its plantation back to the community marking a breakthrough with respect to the workings of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

PT Agro Wiratama which is a subsidiary of the giant Musim Mas group and a member of the RSPO had obtained a government permit to develop an oil palm plantation on 9,000 hectares of land in West Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo but agreed to relinquish more than 1,000 hectares following interventions by the local community and NGOs.

Deputy Director of Market Transformation at WWF Indonesia, Irwan Gunawan said the case shows how the RSPO can be successfully implemented, “This is a real example of how the New Plantings Procedure was designed to work. Early warning of expansion plans and a real willingness by PT Agro Wiratama and parent company Musim Mas to engage with the community and other stakeholders has resulted in a win-win-win for everyone, including the environment. 

“It shows that with careful planning and the right attitude palm oil can be sustainable. It can respect communities, generate income and protect wildlife.” 

He added, “Equally significant is the fact that the company gave back the land even though they had a legal permit to develop it – showing that the RSPO goes further than the law to protect local people and that Musim Mas is keen to foster a constructive relationship with its neighbours."

Under RSPO’s “New Planting procedures” member companies are required to publicly announce plans to expand their operations. This ensures that the social and environmental requirements of RSPO are considered before new operations begin.

PT Agro Wiratama’s plans were spotted on the RSPO website by the international human rights group, Forest People’s Programme, who alerted their partners in Borneo.

The local Indonesian NGO, Gemawan was then able to alert the local community to what was being proposed and assisted them in discussions with the local government and PT Agro Wiratama.

Following a series of meetings that involved the mapping of land use and discussions on land claims the reduction of the concession area was made official by the local regent (bupati).

One of the leaders of the local Kuayan community, Kamarudin said, “We are very pleased that our land is secure now because we’ve now got a chance to make choices about our lives.

“We now ask all the other parties involved in this decision to respect our choice.”

The Head of Mekar Jaya Village, Azim Kitung said, “Our community has been trying very hard for so long to refuse admittance to palm oil plantation developers in our village. We believe that we already had enough with the rubber, timber and rice paddies that we already own.”

According to KONTAK Rakyat Borneo, a Pontianak based NGO that also assisted the community in the case; there are 19 palm oil plantations in Sambas Regency, 17 of which are members of RSPO.

Despite the RSPO’s standards requiring member companies not to take over the lands of local communities without prior consent, Indonesian laws and land administration do not recognise most communities land rights resulting in permits being routinely handed out to companies even though they overlap areas basic to people’s livelihoods.

The National Land Agency statistics show that there are some 3,100 land conflicts in Indonesia between palm oil developers and local communities.

Monday, March 5, 2012


We are excited to hear about the progress of certified sustainable palm oil through this RSPO report.

Kuala Lumpur, 5 March 2012 – Multi stakeholder initiative, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) reported unprecedented growth for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) in the year 2011 as accounted for in its inaugural qualitative review entitled “2011 RSPO CSPO Growth Interpretation Narrative” (2011 GIN). The 2011 GIN, the first of its kind for any sustainable commodity, will be an annual report aimed at recording and analysing the growth and trends of RSPO and CSPO in the global marketplace.

The report confirms the upward trend in the supply and sale of sustainable palm oil, since the certification of the commodity was first launched by the RSPO in 2008. From 2009 to 2011 supply of CSPO has increased by 250% (1,357,511 metric tons in 2009 to 4,798,512 metric tons in 2011) while sales volume has grown by over 6 times, approximately 620% (343,857 metric tons in 2009 to 2,490,526 metric tons in 2011). According to the report, the year-on-year supply of CSPO in 2011 increased by 73%, reaching 4,798,512 metric tons compared to 2,773,567 metric tons in 2010, while year-on-year sales volume increased by a whopping 94%.

The remarkable surge in supply can be attributed to the rising number of certified growers entering into RSPO’s certification process. While in 2008, RSPO could count 17 certified mills in just two countries (Malaysia and Papua New Guinea), today there are 29 grower companies with 135 certified mills in six countries: BrazilColombiaIndonesiaMalaysiaPapua New Guinea, and theSolomon Islands – an increase in certified mills of approximately 8 times over a 3 year period.

Darrel Webber, Secretary General of the RSPO commented that: “The growth of CSPO has shown an escalating trend and clearly reflects the inclination of sustainability standards towards palm oil. RSPO praises the efforts of growers for embarking on the certification process and committing themselves to the RSPO Principles and Criteria. A total of US$21.5 million worth of premiums has been paid to date to RSPO certified growers since the first certificates via the Book & Claim system under the GreenPalm were traded in 2008 - and we hope that the growers have found this valuable in empowering their transformation to sustainable cultivation practices.”

RSPO membership has also been rapidly expanding in the past year. Membership of consumer goods manufacturer increased by over 60% while the retailers category increased by 50% - both primarily from the European regions which is an affirmative step in accelerating demand of CSPO. The processors & traders category also intensified by over 30% strengthening commitment along the palm oil supply chain, another integral development in transforming the market.

“Central to all these strategies, is the RSPO commitment to our philosophy of harmonizing the interests of diverse group of nations, organizations and individuals through an inclusive, participative and consensual process. We will continue our openness, responsiveness, accessibility and accountability. Despite the dynamic landscape, our pursuit for transformation to make sustainable palm oil the norm does seem to be drawing closer.” Webber reiterated.
Jan Kees Vis, RSPO President and Global Director Sustainable Sourcing Development for Unilever said: “While reflecting on the trends and performance of 2011, the RSPO will advance forward focused on 3 strategic pillars for 2012 which include:

The first strategic pillar will be to increase CSPO uptake amongst current demand markets while penetrating major new markets for sustainable palm oil. We aim to achieve this by: driving membership and strategic collaborations in new demand markets such as India and China, increasing membership throughout the supply chain to focus more on processors & traders to consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, tracking the annual communications on progress reports by members on their pledge towards CSPO; and promoting and marketing the adoption of the RSPO trademark.

The second strategic pillar will be focused on continuing certification momentum in large producer nations, while concurrently guiding and accelerating certification in new frontiers. We will do this through engagement and outreach within our multi stakeholder structure and also with various governments, member companies and associations; as well as facilitating funding and capacity building mechanisms for smallholders and new frontiers.

The third strategic pillar will be to enhance RSPO’s international standards for certification through the current review process of its Principles & Criteria, and address significant concerns such as GHG emissions and Indirect Land Use Change; guide and facilitate the New Planting Procedure and Supply Chain Certification process, commit to solving grievance concerns through a constructive engagement process; and develop acceptance of RSPO standards for other international schemes such as those for biofuels and benchmarking our standards through strategic and synergistic collaboration.” Vis further commented.  

About the 2011 RSPO CSPO Growth Interpretation Narrative (2011 GIN)
The first and only report in the market on certified sustainable palm oil aimed at analyzing, shaping and facilitating commitment and discussions towards sustainable palm oil. As the pioneer in certified sustainable standards for palm oil and for unparalleled growth in a commodity compared to any other roundtable initiatives, RSPO is introducing its annual qualitative narrative to share,  calibrate, analyze and produce information on RSPO and CSPO growth and trends on an annual basis. The reports in the subsequent year will be developed using this inaugural narrative as a benchmark to validate growth, trends and directions. It is an RSPO-branded narrative which will be circulated globally to all stakeholders, members, media, financial analysts, investment banks, research houses, opinion leaders, governments and policymakers, embassies, councils, sustainable initiatives, and non-member palm oil players around the world.  

The report will officially be available as of March 6, 2012 at

About RSPO
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 ZurichSwitzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with a satellite office in Jakarta.

RSPO is a not-for-profit association that unites stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry - 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 - 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.