‘Certification of sustainable palm oil does not work’

The rise of the palm oil production has a huge impact on people and the environment, especially in Asia and Latin America. The twelve-year-old certification of sustainable palm oil does not work, say experts.

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“In San Lorenzo, they have the forest cut down to the oil palm planting. That they have not cut down, thanks to the indigenous peoples, that the expansion could slow down,” says Santiago Levy. In the Ecuadorian province of Carchi, where the oil palm heavy marching, he is the coordinator of the Foundation for the Development of Alternatives.


The fruit of the oil palm is crushed to make oil out of it. Palm oil is used massively in the food industry, in cosmetics and as a fuel.

The impact of the oil palm cultivation is large. “There is infrastructure, a lot of water for processing, and the afvalvloeistoffen in the ground,” says Levy. “It is not sustainable cultivation, there disappears the forest to make way for monoculture.”


In Indonesia, the area for oil palm since 1985, eight times larger “The model for sustainable palm oil has not worked.”

At the just ended four-yearly congress of the International Union for Conservation of nature (IUCN) was palm oil is one of the central themes. In a motion asked the 9500 participants, including a working group that governments and other players should help to reduce the impact of the oil palm cultivation to reduce.

No efficient control

The current certification system for sustainable palmteelt does not work, because the deforestation and the loss of biological wealth has not slowed, says Arnold Sitompul of the Indonesian department of the world wildlife fund (WWF).

In Indonesia, the area for oil palm since 1985, eight times larger. Since 2011, the government moratoria on by teeltlicenties to reach out, but the control is not efficient, said Sitompul.

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The model for sustainable palm oil has not worked, says Antony Lynam, consultant, Asia of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “You have the woods to protect against the expansion of the palm.”

Respect for indigenous peoples

In 2004, it set up a certification system, CSPO (abbreviation for certified sustainable palm oil). Sustainable palm oil needs to meet seven criteria, including traceability, respect for the rights of workers and indigenous peoples, the avoidance of areas with biological value and clean farming practices.

The RSPO (Roundtable on sustainable palm oil (rspo), the accreditation body that 3000 members from 7 sectors to collect, so far has almost 11 million tonnes of palm oil certified, good for an area of 22,100 square kilometers, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Colombia. That is less than 17 percent of the world production.

More and more complaints

Since 2014 the number of complaints submitted to the RSPO increased, to 64: about indigenous peoples not consulted in advance (40 percent of the complaints), about problems of nature conservation (23 percent), and about pollution and burnt forests (16 percent). More than half of the complaints came from Indonesia, a quarter from Malaysia.

Yet Sitompul optimistic. “It is a good time to improve the situation. It may be good practice to encourage. Indonesia must provide added value to the sector, instead of only raw material.”

200.000 square kilometers

Worldwide, about 200,000 square kilometres of oil palm planted. The trees meet almost a quarter of the global demand for oils and fats.

According to the U.s. department of Agriculture will there be in season 2016-2017 65.5 million tonnes of palm oil processed in the world, 10 percent more than in 2015.

Indonesia, the largest palm oil producer in the world, has about 80,000 square kilometres of oil palms are, good for an annual production of 35 million tonnes. Two other major producers are Malaysia, with 56.000 square miles and 21 million tonnes, and Thailand, with 10,000 square kilometers and 2.3 million tonnes.

Also in Latin America, is moving the oil palm. Colombia is the fourth largest producer in the world, with an annual production of over 1 million tons on 5,000 square kilometers. The following countries are Ecuador (560.000 tonnes), Guatemala (515.000 tonnes), Brazil (340.000 tonnes), and Honduras (54.500 tonnes). (IPS / Emilio Godoy)

Also read:

– Food sector are forcing large palm oil producer to a more sustainable policy

– Boycott by food sector are paying off: major palm oil producer is more sustainable

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