‘There are no alternatives for the sustainable palm oil’

A recent study questioning the true sustainability of sustainable palm oil. Jelmen Haaze, Secretary-General of the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm oil responding. “We need to succeed. There are no alternatives.’

A worker harvesting palm fruits in Indonesia. © REUTERS

First read: The myth of sustainable palm oil: “More communication than action’

Of the fruit of the oil palm oil palm oil is an oil extracted which is one of the world’s most traded commodities. No man who has a problem with the tree itself, but ten billion people with sustainable resources by 2050 is a huge technical challenge. Nevertheless, we should succeed. There are no alternatives.


Recently, a coalition of Belgian ngos, including 11.11.11, and Oxfam, the activities of the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm oil were analyzed. In the report, call the organizations to see the role of the BASP in the field of sustainable palm oil to strengthen. They see Belgium as an important link in the debate, because we are in a import of forty kilograms per capita one of the most important palmoliegebruikers of Europe.


‘There are no alternatives for the sustainable palm oil’

We understand the call for transparency, but that is not always easy to offer. One of the questions asked in the report is how much of the total consumption in Belgium. There visibility is not self-evident: once the palm oil is processed in, for example, a croissant that is exported to France, it is no longer considered trade in palm oil, but as an export of a croissant. However, We will get started with the recommendations of the ngo coalition and set up a working group to this internal view. For the BASP is an occasion to its activities, to evaluate and to improve.

The report aims for a broader impact. Sustainable palm oil is in need of a scientific debate, and we therefore appreciate that this attention to this topic. A solid transformation to sustainable palm oil requires, finally, a comprehensive approach where all parties involved should form part of it.

Sustainable palm oil is part of a sustainable future

There is no viable alternative for sustainability. It is an illusion to think that it’s out of our economy for the banning of palm oil problems. Palm oil is the most efficient vegetable oil. Conversion to other types of means therefore that the amount of land that is used for our raw materials by at least a factor of five will increase. Sustainable palm oil makes therefore part of a sustainable future.

In addition, sustainability is already today an important agenda item in the sector. Research shows that palm oil is the raw material of which the business world is the furthest comes to deforestation. Also here, the members of the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm oil (BASP) all voluntary action is taken.

What does the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm oil?

Take a step back in time. In november 2014 a number of companies (Aigremont, Ferrero, Lotus Bakeries, Natra Malle, Puratos, Royale Lacroix, SIPEF, Unilever and Vandemoortele) and federations decided to only sustainable palm oil in their products for the Belgian market. Since december 2015, they succeeded, and use the member companies only RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil in their foodstuffs intended for the Belgian market.

And we are going through! By signing our charter is to connect our members undertake to go even further. By 2020, all products must be intended for the Belgian market completely free of deforestation, and producers areas with a high biodiversity respect. Also, the production of palm oil is done with attention to the rights of workers and local communities. It can be said that our member companies this pioneers within Europe.

Yes, it is true that the BASP currently, not all sectors groups, that retail is not part of the Alliance and that not all food companies are members. Many of them have their own commitments. Although it is not to say that they are not durable may work if they are not members of our organization, we appreciate that the ngo coalition further strengthening of BASP recognizes as an important signal for the sustainability of the Belgian market.

Stop the achterhoedegevechten

At the same time, we must put an end to achterhoedegevechten and innuendo that we have palm oil, it is best not to use more. All too often we see products on the market that state that they have no palm oil to be produced. This opportunistic marketing creates an atmosphere in which even the use of sustainable palm oil suspected. Completely undeserved. Many reports and also the main ngos indicate that sustainable palm oil can be part of a sustainable future. This atmosphere of suspicion, however, some of the companies to communicate about their raw materials and thus works counterproductive.

We will have our operation to evaluate so as to increase transparency and to be a pioneer. We have the determination to keep our promises and continue to perform. Also, the sectors share the ambition to continuously improve, both in depth and in the width of the engagement. Therefore, we continue to all Belgian companies and non-signatories, to encourage to join in our story. Palm oil can and must be done sustainably.

Jelmen Haaze, Secretary-General of the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm oil

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