Solidaridad is an international civil society organisation with 50 years experience in the development of value chains. At Solidaridad we believe sustainably produced palm oil can and should play an important role in global supply of vegetable oils for food. But we need to improve production and consumption practices.
Our commitment on the movement
Within Solidaridad we see RSPO as a tool to introduce improved production practices, that may lead to improved livelihoods for farmers and workers. However at farmer level there is not always a business case for RSPO certification as often the costs of certification for individual farmer groups are too high compared to the better prices for their certified products. As such we only promote RSPO certification for farmers when we expect this can and will bring material improvements for farmers and people involved. At European demand side, we do promote the purchase of RSPO certified material, as at this stage our analysis is that the RSPO scheme offers the best tools to drive significant improvements on the ground.
"I hope the Sustainable Palm Oil Choice initiative will inspire more people to choose sustainable palm oil, but also to think about how they can invest beyond just buying sustainable palm oil."Marieke Leegwater, Senior Policy Advisor – Palm Oil
I am most proud of our partnership with Henkel, who have committed to a strategy that goes beyond ‘just’ buying sustainable palm products; They invest in projects improving oil palm production for a volume commensurate to their use of oil palm products. With such investments Henkel takes responsibility for the sustainability of oil palm production beyond the volume they buy and as such solve issues where that is most needed.
The portfolio of projects within the partnership between Henkel and Solidaridad now consists of seven projects reaching farmers in all the major palm oil production areas. Most projects focus on improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers, while at the same time improving their environmental performance. For example in a project together with a Credit Union in West Kalimantan in Indonesia, Solidaridad has been able to reach and support 4.631 farmers with farmer field schools informing them about better practices, but also in mapping and conserving 1.330 hectares of forest, by ensuring it is given a legal status as conservation forest by the local government.
I think this example is one of many that demonstrates that palm oil can be produced sustainable and that we can create sustainable palm oil value chains. European buyers can play an important role to come to such sustainable value chains by buying sustainable produced palm oil and reward producers of sustainable palm oil for their performance and in investing in tangible improvements.
Our UN Sustainable Development Goals
My organisation is most concerned with the following 5 UN SDGs:
- Goal 2: Zero hunger
- Goal 5: Gender
- Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
- Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
- Goal 13: Climate action
Our struggles and future plans
We believe the biggest struggle in the move to sustainable palm oil in Europe is that RSPO certified companies are still sometimes associated with negative practices and deforestation. As such the RSPO scheme loses credibility. Another challenge at this stage is that the RSPO certification system is too complicated and costly for independent smallholders. We hope the new Independent Smallholder Standard that is expected to be adopted in November 2019, will bring change to this. However, also with this new system, we expect outside support will be needed and to make the standard implementable at scale. It will be crucial that there is a profitable business case at farmer level. This means farmers should be rewarded commensurately for their efforts.
Within Solidaridad we will continue to invest in projects and activities improving smallholder and worker livelihoods in the palm oil value chain; we are working on digital solutions that enable the bundling of knowledge on better cultivation practices with access to services and inputs. Also we want to investigate ways to better reward farmers for their performance for example when investments in rehabilitation of forests are done. By cooperation with value chain partners and financiers we are seeking ways to bring these solutions to scale.
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