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Comparative Analysis: RSPO Principles and Criteria and POIG Verification Indicators

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is in the final stages of revising the Principles and Criteria (P&C). As part of the review process, the organisation is gathering a second round of comments from stakeholders before finalising and publishing the revised P&C. The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) and its members have conducted a comparative analysis between the second draft of the RSPO P&C and the POIG Verification Indicators (v. March 2016). An Executive Summary of the comparison results, and a more detailed indicator level analysis document have been developed, and could be used to provide constructive feedback for incorporation in the final RSPO P&C. The Executive Summary also includes some initial observations on the draft of the RSPO Smallholder Standard, which is also currently open for public consultation.

Based on the analysis, the latest RSPO P&C Draft has made some improvement in meeting the standard of responsibility articulated in the POIG Verification Indicators. The analysis also shows that while many RSPO criteria and indicators could be improved to meet the POIG indicators with a few additions, there is still a serious concern around a set of specific issues. It is not known at this point whether the draft RSPO P&C will retain and/or add indicators in its final form that will be compatible with all of the POIG indicators.

To download the Executive Summary of the comparative analysis, click here.

To view the full indicator level analysis document, click here.

Palm Oil Innovation Group Response to RSPO Suspension of Nestlé

Paris, France – The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) acknowledges the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) decision to suspend membership of Nestlé due to breaches of the RSPO Code of Conduct for not submitting a time-bound plan in its annual reports.

The members of the Palm Oil Innovation Group issued the following statement:

“Whilst decisions to hold RSPO members to account are much-needed, the RSPO should focus enforcement efforts on sanctioning non-compliant members destroying forests and committing human rights violations. Major consumers of palm oil such as Nestlé should avoid misleading communications to the market. Instead companies need to invest in the much-needed transformation of the palm oil sector by achieving third-party verification of their supply chains instead of second-party alternatives that lack the independence, oversight and transparency provided by certification systems and the Palm Oil Innovation Group. POIG includes RSPO members and builds upon its standards to produce verified responsible palm oil.” said Gemma Tillack, spokesperson from Rainforest Action Network.

“The Palm Oil Innovation Group and its members have shown that RSPO-certified members can uphold their RSPO membership requirements and go beyond them to address deforestation and the social and environmental impacts of conventional palm oil production.” said Felipe Guerrero, spokesperson from Daabon.

To download the full statement click here.

Leading brands, progressive palm oil producers and NGOs confirm deforestation-free palm oil is available to European market

Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) urges Iceland grocery store chain to join the group, build a more responsible palm oil industry

The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), in response to recent news reports of the UK-based grocery store chain Iceland’s decision to ban palm oil in its branded products, confirms that it does now offer deforestation- and exploitation-free palm oil to the global market, and encourages Iceland to join its members in building a truly responsible palm oil industry.

Iceland’s move highlights the palm oil industry’s inability to deliver responsible palm oil, as current palm oil certification schemes have not yet guaranteed palm oil that is deforestation-free, not planted on peat and not produced through the exploitation of workers and communities. To meet the growing demand for a higher standard, POIG formed as a multi-stakeholder forum of global NGOs, consumer goods manufacturers and progressive palm oil companies. The group issued the following responses to the recent news:

“The POIG shares Iceland’s concerns. To address the social and environmental impacts of irresponsible palm oil production, we recommend that retailers and manufactures demand traceable, transparent and third party verified responsible palm oil. Eliminating palm oil is not the solution to deforestation, as this risks simply shifting the problem to other regions,” said Gemma Tillack, Forest Policy Director for Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

“Palm oil can, and should be, produced in a way that that ensures human rights, including the rights of workers and local communities, are respected and palm oil is produced without destroying rainforests and peatlands. The POIG is the only multi-stakeholder initiative that currently demonstrates best practice in the palm oil sector and sets a credible and verifiable benchmark that builds upon the valuable work of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). To truly make an impact and show leadership in the palm oil space, companies like Iceland should join POIG and purchase POIG verified oil, which is available right now,“ said Matthias Diemer, Co-chair of the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG).

“With this decision, Iceland loses the opportunity to actually contribute to the protection of environment and human rights, because isolating themselves from collective efforts will not help to solve palm oil supply chain sustainability issues. Yet, the real impact of such a decision is unknown, since there is no reliable and transparent traceability system in place for alternatives to palm oil,” said Tulio Dias, Corporate Sustainability Manager of Agropalma, a Brazilian palm oil company and founding member of POIG.

“Additionally, due to vastly inferior yields, alternatives to palm oil may present increased threats to ecosystems and biodiversity,” said Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of Orangutan Land Trust.

“Only a concerted effort by all concerned stakeholders will transform the situation on the ground where palm oil is produced. We firmly believe that only proactive engagement will yield practical results,” said Laura Roth, Sustainability Manager, Americas of Barry Callebaut.

The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) would welcome Iceland to join as a member if the company was committed to playing a proactive role in creating transparent and responsible supply chains and breaking the link between palm oil production and the destruction of forests and peatlands, the exploitation of communities and workers, and climate change.

To download the full statement, click here.

CONTACTS:
Emma Rae Lierley, Rainforest Action Network, emma(at)ran.org, +1 425 281 1989
Matthias Diemer, Co-Chair of Palm Oil Innovation Group, Matthias.Diemer(at)wwf.ch
Tulio Dias, Agropalma, tuliodias(at)agropalma.com.br

Notification: upcoming POIG Verification Indicator assessment of Musim Mas RSPO certified mills in Indonesia

In line with its ongoing commitment as a member of the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), Musim Mas Group is announcing its next evaluation of conformance with the POIG Charter and Verification Indicators (v. March 2016), which will take place between February and April 2018. The assessment will be conducted by the Rainforest Alliance and will cover ten of Musim Mas Group’s Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified mills in Indonesia.

The evaluation will be carried out through the assessment of four mills, which have been selected as a sample based on the Rainforest Alliance risk assessment, which considers geographical
distribution, type and number of supply bases of the ten mills included in the evaluation scope. The four selected mills are:

  • PT Berkat Sawit Sejati located in Desa Tampang Baru, Kecamatan Bayung Lencir, Kabupaten Musi Banyuasin, Propinsi Sumatera Selatan, Indonesia;
  • PT Unggul Lestari located in Desa Tumbang Sepayang, Kecamatan Antang Kalang, Kabupaten Kotawaringin Timur, Propinsi Kalimantan Tengah, Indonesia;
  • PT Maju Aneka Sawit located in Desa Tanah Putih, Kecamatan Telawang, Kabupaten Kotawaringin Timur, Propinsi Kalimantan Tengah, Indonesia; and
  • PT Siringo-Ringo located in Jl. Siringo Ringo, Desa Bandar Kumbul, Kecamatan Bilah Barat, Kabupaten Labuhan Batu, Rantau Prapat, Propinsi Sumatera Utara, Indonesia.

As part of the POIG evaluation process, the Rainforest Alliance is inviting stakeholders to offer comments and feedback on Musim Mas Group in relation to conformance with the requirements of
the POIG verification indicators. Stakeholder consultations will be held for each of the four mills undergoing assessment. The first consultation will be conducted for PT Berkat Sawit Sejati at 10am local time on 7 February 2018 at the PT Berkat Sawit Sejati office in Desa Tampang Baru. Feedback may also be submitted to the Rainforest Alliance prior to consultation dates, and at any stage of the assessment process, preferably before 9 March 2018. The schedule for the stakeholder consultation for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th mill assessment will be posted in the Rainforest Alliance website one month prior to the field visit date.

For more information on the assessment, as well as details on how to participate in the upcoming consultations, please click on the following link to view the assessment notification on the Rainforest Alliance website:

https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/business/forestry/verification/transparency/assurance-projects-assesment

POIG Traders & Processors Charter released

The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) is pleased to announce the release of the POIG Charter for Traders and Processors last week on the 27th of November 2017. Following the Charter’s launch, POIG membership is now open to another critical part of the palm oil supply chain, and we welcome all new applicants under this membership category.

Further information on membership and application requirements can be accessed here, or requested by contacting the POIG Secretariat at info@poig.org.

POIG Pushes for Stronger Labour Rights Assessments and Auditing Procedures at RSPO Annual Meeting

Paper commissioned by WWF examines factors reducing effectiveness of certification schemes, makes suggestions for improvements, while POIG member Musim Mas issues industry’s first comprehensive labour assessment

Bali, Indonesia – The last four years of annual meetings of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) have included escalating recognition of the urgent need to address systemic labour violations facing the palm oil sector’s millions of workers. At this year’s meeting, underway in Bali, the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) offers the most broadly endorsed proposals yet for improving the effectiveness of existing certification systems. At the same time, POIG member and major palm oil producer Musim Mas has set a new bar for its peers with the publication of the Indonesian palm oil industry’s first comprehensive, independent labour compliance assessment.

“POIG members are leading the way in identifying and demonstrating the innovations needed to strengthen assurance systems for the palm oil industry,” said Robin Averbeck, Agribusiness Campaign Director with Rainforest Action Network. “Legitimate assessments of labour conditions are critically needed and Musim Mas’ recent assessment and corrective action plan now sets a new standard of best practice for the sector.”

The new WWF-commissioned study Innovating Assurance presents a set of recommendations for the RSPO to adopt to improve the quality of assurance systems used to independently verify member’s compliance with its standard. Key innovations include the setup of an escrow fund, increased transparency and limits of successive audits by the same auditors and certifying bodies.

“The Palm Oil Innovation Group has shown that you can improve assurance systems through innovation. The WWF commissioned paper recommends that the RSPO strengthen its systems, including through the establishment of an escrow fund to increase the objectivity and integrity of audits, and delinking the financial dependency of certification bodies from their clients, and trialing unannounced audits.” Matthias Diemer spokesperson for WWF and co-chair of the Palm Oil Innovation Group.

The paper Innovating Assurance recommends the following measures:

  • Tightening the standard
  • Increasing the transparency of individual audit reports
  • Limiting the number of successive audits by the same lead auditors and certification bodies
  • Utilising risk-based approaches as part of the audit process
  • Improving the complaints systems associated with the standards
  • Better training of auditors
  • Removing the direct link between certification bodies and their customers
  • Separating monitoring of member progress from auditing

The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) endorses these suggestions, and has already taken a number of them on board in order to improve verification of member progress against the POIG Charter, when it was considered feasible to do so. They are reflected in the revisions of the POIG Charter Verification Indicators used to verify compliance by its grower members Agropalma, DAABON and Musim Mas and POIG’s Auditing Guidelines currently being finalised.

Verité carried out the Musim Mas assessment in three mills and eight estates in Central Kalimantan and Riau, Indonesia. The assessment aimed to identify risks of non-conformance to POIG’s Charter, RSPO Principles and Criteria, Verité Best Practice Standards and other international norms on worker protection and Occupational Health and Safety. They also targeted to determine the areas of innovation required.

“As the first major Southeast Asian palm oil producer to join POIG, Musim Mas opened its doors to a comprehensive labour assessment as part of its commitment to improving the welfare of its workforce – the very people on whom its business bottom line depends on. Hopefully, this will set a precedence for the wider industry to greater introspection on labour conditions, and enact changes essential for the de-linking of labour issues from the palm oil industry, and work towards verified and responsible production.” said Petra Meekers, Director for CSR and Sustainable Development with Musim Mas.

The field assessments were conducted over nine days and involved in-depth interviews with 123 non-management workers without the presence of management personnel. The auditors also carried out a documentary review of personnel files, pay records and time records and site inspections, as well as interviews with management representatives, unions and smallholder cooperative. The audit and findings in the mill and estates are categorised into three broad categories, namely, labour and human rights, compensation and hours, as well as health and safety.

In the one-year period since the assessment leading up to the publication of the report today, the Group has reviewed the gaps in the highlighted areas and worked to address highlighted issues, enabling case closure in most aspects. Musim Mas is still working on other matters requiring lengthier consideration in addition to finalizing the full independent verification of its operations against the POIG Charter.

The Palm Oil Innovation Group has submitted its POIG Charter to the RSPO’s P&C Review Task Force leading the current review of its certification standard in the hope that its additional requirements to achieve No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation will be incorporated into the revised standard for all members in November 2018. The group also continues to develop innovations that aim to overcome other challenges facing the palm oil sector. One major concern is the drainage-based use of huge tracks of peatland by the palm oil sector. Cultivation of oil palm on peat is not viable in the long term as it leads to huge greenhouse gas emissions, elevates fire-threat, subsidence and ultimately, flooding and loss of productivity. POIG has established a working group that aims to share results from sustainable peatland management pilots amongst growers and landscape-based approaches for peatland rewetting and fire prevention. It is hoped that dialogue, involving all stakeholders in the landscape and downstream industries, will enable development of realistic solutions, including opportunities in Indonesia to support just transitions to wet agriculture or ‘paludicuture’ on rewetted peatlands.

POIG’s members in Brazil and Columbia continue to set benchmarks for responsible palm oil in Latin America. In Brazil, Agropalma is investing in education and in an apprenticeship program that also aims to promote gender equity. In Colombia DAABON is focusing on pilots to diversify income for palm oil producers and programmes to support peace in schools and amongst families.

To download the full statement, click here.

To download POIG’s response brief on the WWF-commissioned study on Innovating Assurance, click here.

Amid EU Palm Oil Bill Debate, New Members Join Leading Initiative to Reform Palm Oil Industry

The Palm Oil Innovation Group welcomes major global companies L’Oréal and Barry Callebaut

London – Today, the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) announced that global companies L’Oréal and Barry Callebaut are the newest members of the leading initiative for responsibly produced palm oil. These companies join others in POIG that have committed to stepping up efforts to drive the much-needed transformation of the palm oil sector. The announcement follows increasing debate on what single ‘No Deforestation’ and ‘No Exploitation’ standard will be adopted by the EU following the successful passage of the palm oil resolution in April 2017. Members of Parliament overwhelmingly voted in support of the introduction of a single certification scheme that will ensure all palm oil entering the EU market is not tied to deforestation or human rights violations.

Matthias Diemer, the Co-chair of the Palm Oil Innovation Group issued the following statement during the annual European meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO):

“The Palm Oil Innovation Group welcomes the commitment by L’Oréal and Barry Callebaut to innovate and join the ranks of the most responsible companies in the palm oil supply chain.”

“These new members will continue to support the transformation of the palm oil sector by demonstrating innovation to implement RSPO existing standards as well as additional critical requirements, such as ending deforestation, the development of peatlands and gross labour and human rights violations.”

L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, and Switzerland-based Barry Callebaut, the global leading supplier of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, have joined existing POIG members like Ferrero and Danone in their commitments to drive truly responsible palm oil production.

“With more innovators joining forces under POIG, we move closer to achieving POIG’s vision: a responsible supply chain that has broken the link between palm oil production and the destruction of forests and peatlands, the exploitation of communities and workers, and climate change,” concluded co-chair Matthias.

POIG was recently recognised by the European Parliament as a strong standard for responsible palm oil production. The EU palm oil resolution presents a great opportunity for RSPO and POIG members, especially at a time when the RSPO is considering strengthening its standards to incorporate no deforestation and no exploitation requirements outlined in the POIG Charter. The initiative was founded by Agropalma, DAABON, Greenpeace, WWF, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) in 2014 and remains the initiative that sets the highest benchmark for independently verified and truly responsible palm oil.

To download the full statement, click here.

Announcing new POIG members and ongoing applications

POIG is committed to supporting the expansion of available responsibly produced palm oil, as well as exploring ways to increase the market demand for palm oil products produced by innovative growers within the industry. The largest piece of the work required to accomplish these goals undoubtedly rests on our members—through their adherence to the POIG Charter, but also through the additional activities they carry out that break barriers and move above and beyond the bare minimum industry standards.

POIG is growing both membership and its capacity to address key issues in the palm oil sector. With more innovators joining forces under POIG, we move closer to achieving POIG’s vision: a responsible supply chain that has broken the link between palm oil production and the destruction of forests and peatlands, the exploitation of communities and workers, and climate change.

Retailers & Manufacturers: leading brands L’Oréal and Barry Callebaut join POIG

The POIG Retailer & Manufacturer membership category was set up in November 2015. The membership category came to a running start with leading brands like Ferrero, Danone, Stephenson Personal Care and Boulder Brands having joined POIG. We are now pleased to announce that two more progressive companies have joined POIG in recent months:

  • In December 2016, we welcomed L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, to POIG’s membership.
  • In March 2017, Barry Callebaut, the global leading supplier of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, based in Switzerland joined POIG.

POIG is confident that both L’Oréal and Barry Callebaut are committed to driving the transformation to make responsible palm oil the norm.

Expanding the supply-base of responsibly produced palm oil: announcing Sime Darby’s application to POIG

In November 2015, we welcomed our third grower member, Musim Mas, the first major Southeast Asian oil palm producer to join POIG. Musim Mas has completed an independent labour compliance assessment that will soon be published, and is working towards a full independent verification of its operations against the POIG Charter. Since then, another milestone has taken place: Sime Darby Plantations, the world’s largest producer of certified sustainable palm oil, submitted their membership application to POIG. Their application has been undergoing review in 2017. If accepted to POIG, Sime Darby will be the first Malaysian palm oil giant to commit to the POIG Charter, including its innovations on tackling pressing labour issues that have led to growing concerns amongst consumers of palm oil.

POIG Traders & Processors: new membership category open soon

After several months under development, the POIG Traders & Processors Charter is nearing finalisation, and is expected to be released in the coming months. Once launched, POIG membership will be open to another critical part of the palm oil supply chain, and we welcome all new applicants that fall under the definition of this membership category.

Further information on membership and application requirements can be accessed here, or requested by contacting the POIG Secretariat at info@poig.org.

Palm Oil Innovation Group Responds To Amnesty International Palm Oil Report

New report on labour rights violations shows critical need for stronger protection of workers in conventional palm oil industry

The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) welcomes the recent release of a report by Amnesty International exposing shocking labour violations – including children as young as 8 engaged in work that is hazardous to their health – in the palm oil sector. Two of the five Indonesian growers investigated for the report are owned and operated by palm oil giant Wilmar and have been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

This report adds to a growing body of evidence that brings to light critical issues, such as forced and child labour, human trafficking, low wages and poor working conditions, facing large numbers of workers on plantations across Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Palm Oil Innovation Group Charter strictly prohibits child labour, forced labour, and other violations profiled in Amnesty’s report. A major strength of the Palm Oil Innovation Group is that its grower members are required to achieve third party verification of compliance with high labour standards aligned with the ILO and Free and Fair Labor in Palm Oil Production Principles.

POIG recently released a publication titled Palm Oil Innovations: Labour Rights which highlighted innovative labour practices that have been implemented by three POIG members on their plantations. These innovations should be incorporated into the existing RSPO Principles and Criteria to uphold workers’ rights and break the link between palm oil and labour exploitation. Key recommendations include:

  • Paying a decent living wage, as agreed through meaningful collective bargaining agreements with independent unions;
  • No fees or costs are charged to workers, directly or indirectly, for recruitment or employment services;
  • No retention of passports, other government­ issued identification and any personal valuables;
  • Limiting precarious work by ensuring that casual, temporary and day labour is limited to jobs that are genuinely temporary or seasonal, and account for no more than 20% of the workforce;
  • Providing access to accessible, equitable and legitimate grievance mechanisms.

All actors in the palm oil industry, including major brands and retailers sourcing palm oil, must respond to the growing body of evidence of labour exploitation with comprehensive improvements to procurement policies and practices. Responsible brands and retailers must seek suppliers who have committed to and implemented additional steps to ensure workers enjoy their fundamental human rights.

The Palm Oil Innovation Group is a multi-­stakeholder initiative that strives to achieve the adoption of responsible palm oil production practices by key players in the supply chain through developing and sharing a credible and verifiable benchmark that builds upon the RSPO, and creating and promoting innovations.

The Palm Oil Innovations: Labour Rights publication can be downloaded, here.

To download the statement click here.

Palm Oil Innovation Group Presents Leading Labour Practices to Uphold Workers’ Rights

New publication on labour rights comes at critical time as growing body of research highlights widespread labour rights issues in conventional palm oil industry.

Today, the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) released a publication titled, “Palm Oil Innovations: Labour Rights” on the heels of the 14th annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Bangkok, Thailand which highlighted worker exploitation issues in the palm oil sector.

This publication—the first in a series from POIG—highlights some of the innovations being implemented by POIG members with respect to labour practices. It builds upon the group’s work to define and independently verify fair labour conditions for workers on palm oil plantations using its Palm Oil Charter and associated verification indicators.

A growing body of evidence on palm oil labour brings to light critical issues such as forced and child labour, human trafficking, low wages and poor working conditions for a large number of workers on plantations across Indonesia and Malaysia. The publication presents improvements that can be put into practice by palm oil producers and the RSPO to uphold workers’ rights and break the link between palm oil and labour exploitation.

Key recommendations include:

  • Paying a decent living wage, as agreed through the participation of workers and independent unions;
  • No fees or costs are charged to workers, directly or indirectly, for recruitment or employment services;
  • No retention of passports, other government¬ issued identification and any personal valuables;
  • Limiting precarious work by ensuring that casual, temporary and day labour is limited to jobs that are genuinely temporary or seasonal, and account for no more than 20% of the workforce;
  • Providing access to accessible, equitable and legitimate grievance mechanisms.

A major strength of the Palm Oil Innovation Group is that its grower members have completed, or are currently undergoing, third party assessments of their compliance with requirements to halt deforestation, development on peatlands and the exploitation of communities or workers’ rights. It is an open forum and new members are encouraged to apply.

The Palm Oil Innovation Group is a multi-stakeholder initiative that strives to achieve the adoption of responsible palm oil production practices by key players in the supply chain through developing and sharing a credible and verifiable benchmark that builds upon the RSPO, and creating and promoting innovations.

The Palm Oil Innovations: Labour Rights publication can be downloaded here.

To download the statement click here.