As policy-makers meet with palm oil growers, traders and consumers in Brussels for the European Palm Oil Alliance conference it is clear that innovation is needed to break the link between palm oil and deforestation and social conflict.
One initiative is leading the way in demonstrating what is required to achieve truly responsible palm oil. The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) is a collective of progressive palm oil companies together with environmental and social NGOs that are working to push the boundaries of current requirements of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
The POIG has reached a number of new milestones in its efforts to find innovative ways to build on the current RSPO standards to halt deforestation, respect rights, resolve conflict and ensure greater traceability from plantations to grocery store shelves.
- POIG palm oil producer members, DAABON, Agropalma and New Britain Palm Oil Limited, have all commenced to trial third party verification of their practices against the Palm Oil Innovation Group Charter. These producers are breaking ground on new ways to implement the High Carbon Stock Approach and improve worker conditions and are driving the refinement of the procedures and indicators used to confirm compliance. Major palm oil producer Golden Agri-Resources has recently applied to become a member of the POIG and its application is being considered.
- New members with social expertise have joined the POIG and a Technical Advisory Group has been set up to develop innovative new ways to verify that companies uphold strong social safeguards including the protection of community and workers’ rights in the palm oil sector.
- Integral to the POIG Charter is a commitment to break the link between palm oil expansion and deforestation, by conserving and restoring High Conservation Values (HCV), by respecting the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of affected communities and by putting a High Carbon Stock Approach into practice. Members of the POIG have joined a broad group of stakeholders in establishing a High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group that will govern the refinement and standardization of the HCS Approach.
- Six of the world’s leading consumer goods manufacturers and retailers have now pledged their support to drive the transformation of their sector towards responsible palm oil production and sourcing. Tesco, Ferrero, REWE Group, EDEKA, Boulder Brands and Stephenson have all announced their support for the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG). This growing support amongst buyers of palm oil shows a pressing need for the palm oil industry to innovate and meet the new global benchmark for responsible palm oil.
The Palm Oil Innovation Group is leading the way in innovation. The question now is whether more brands will come forward, support POIG and ask the RSPO and the palm oil industry to adopt these innovations to find new ways to transform palm oil for the better.
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