Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


sustainable palm-oil guidelines advance

February 2005

Two public forums to publicize policy and seek suggestions have been held by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, set up to produce responsible guidelines for the industry in the Asia Pacific area.

The first forum was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on January 6, and the second in Jakarta, Indonesia, on January 12. About 100 people attended the Kuala Lumpur forum and 70 were at the Jakarta meeting. The participants included producers, processors, manufacturers, government agencies, bankers, investors and non-governmental organizations. More forums are to follow.

An initial policy draft, written by ProForest, a UK-based consultancy, says the organization’s aims are to minimize the social and environmental impact of oil palm plantations, which have been linked to deforestation and land rights abuses, and to maintain employment standards.

It says producers should assess possible social and environmental impacts before planting, respect conservation and biodiversity, use fire to clear land only in exceptional circumstances, use indigenous people’s land only with their free and informed consent, and buy at a fair price.

The eventual criteria, being drawn up by an international group of experts representing interests along the supply chain, will cover the legal, economic, technical, environmental and social aspects of palm oil production. All interested stakeholders are being invited to make proposals to the team.

Palm oil is a big industry in Asia. Every year more than 28million tonnes are used in margarine, cooking oil, crisps, cakes, biscuits, pastry and other products.

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