RSPO Label Bought Not Earned
Hundreds of hectares of rainforest and tiger habitat protected under the Indonesian government’s moratorium have been destroyed, revealed Greenpeace International, following an investigation into Duta Palma, a notorious Indonesian palm oil producer and member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Oil (RSPO).
Duta Palma has a long history of deforestation, community conflict, illegality, and non-compliance with RSPO regulations. As recently as 7 April 2013, the district parliament condemned ongoing conflict between Duta Palma and local communities, which led to loss of life this month.
“Duta Palma is a textbook example of why the RSPO urgently needs to tighten its standards and enforcement. Unless repeat offenders such as Duta Palma are expelled and the standard is tightened to stop deforestation, the RSPO will be rightly seen as a toothless tiger. It needs to act now, while we’ve still got some tigers left,” said Wirendro Sumargo, Palm Oil Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
The evidence in Greenpeace International’s report indicates that Duta Palma is behind the clearance of land that lies adjacent to the official boundaries of one of its concessions in Riau, Sumatra. In addition, investigators were informed that Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry has not issued a permit for the location, which is on mapped peatland and tiger habitat and within an area that, according to official charts, is covered by the Indonesian government’s moratorium on deforestation. The company has failed to answer Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s requests for further information about its operations.
“In a bid to clean up the international image of the palm oil sector, the Indonesian government has spoken many fine words about cracking down on companies like Duta Palma. The government has the power to revoke licenses, and has promised it will. But now it’s now time for the government to put words into action,” said Wirendro Sumargo.
The case also reveals the risk faced by respected global brands that palm oil they purchase through international traders may come in part from illegal and destructive operations. Cargill, the world’s largest privately owned company, has clearly stated it no longer trades with Duta Palma. Traders such as Wilmar and Sime Darby that have supplied Duta Palma’s dirty palm oil to the international market need to come lean
about their supply chains.
The RSPO, an organization with the declared aim of ensuring environmentally responsible palm oil production, is meeting today in Kuala Lumpur to vote on a revised standard that will not tackle deforestation. While the RSPO has the opportunity to set a strong standard to transform the industry and break the link between palm oil and deforestation, Greenpeace International concludes that the visions in the charter will fail to prohibit further clearance of carbon-rich forests and peatland.
Greenpeace International urges all RSPO members to follow the lead of individual member companies including Golden Agri-Resources and Nestlé that are already implementing zero deforestation policies.