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Historic Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil in Malaysia

Posted 28 November 2011 by admin to Ecolabel News.

Last week, a massive meeting on implementing sustainability measures into the palm oil industry began. The 9th annual Roundtable Meeting or RT9, entitled “RSPO Certified. Transforming the Market. Together”, is hosted by The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a multi-stakeholder organization seeking to advance sustainable practices in the palm oil industry. RSPO manages an ecolabel that certifies green palm oil producers.

The conference is comprised of a number of panel discussions and seminars hosted by world leading environmentalists, sustainability advocates, policy makers, government representatives, academics, diplomatic envoys, private sector captains of industries, international financiers, and philanthropists. They will touch upon a number of different topics ranging from limiting green house gas emissions to dealing with the emergence of new producing regions like West Africa and Latin America. They will also cover ecolabeling issues like transparency, communications and environmental claims as well as trade and traceability.

This initiative comes in the wake of widespread allegations of environmental harm and deception perpetrated by major corporations in the palm oil business. Greenpeace has slammed the palm oil industry for tearing up forests, emitting greenhouse gasses and endangering wildlife. The Guardian and Rainforest News have both recently ran pieces accusing the industry of violently removing people from their villages and destroying their homes as well as running a ruthless greenwashing campaign to alter public opinion.

While it remains to be seen if such fraudulence is endemic to the industry or the actions of a few rogue companies, the RSPO is certainly making strides to raise awareness and achieve sustainable goals in the sector. The RSPO has 723 members that produce 5.2 millions tonnes of palm oil. A recent summary revealed that 87 of the 132 major palm oil purchasers have pledged to use 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil by 2015. This is a sharp increase from 2009 when only 10 of 59 corporations vowed to buy palm oil with the ecolabel’s certification.