What does RSPO–certified palm oil actually mean? The RSPO is a worldwide body of which over 4000 organisations are member. Members include NGOs such as WWF, Oxfam Novib, Solidaridad, IUCN, but also companies like Ahold, Unilever, Mondelez, Wilmar, Sime Darby and financial institutions. Together these organisations have developed rules for production and trade of sustainable produced palm oil, the Principles and Criteria for the Production of Sustainable Palm Oil. Palm oil producers, producing in accordance with this standard can get certified against this standard.
The main certification requirements are detailed in the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria:
- The production of palm oil must not cause deforestation or damage any area required to protect or enhance High Conservation Value (HCV) or High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest. HCV and HCS forests in the managed area must be identified and protected or enhanced.
- Growers have to monitor and identify the occurrence of protected species of plants and animals.
- Burning the land surface at any stage of operation on the plantation is forbidden and fire cannot be used to prepare or clear land prior to the plantation’s establishment.
- There are clear requirements relating to labour standards and working conditions, including the right of workers to freedom of association. Special rules must be set to protect the rights of vulnerable groups of workers such as migrants, refugees, women, and young labourers.
- Pay and conditions for office staff and plantation labourers must meet industry minimum standards and be sufficient to provide a decent living wage (DLW). The RSPO’s certification scheme is the first such system that requires full implementation of a DLW.
The RSPO’s Principles and Criteria are reviewed every five years and are submitted to the roundtable’s general assembly for ratification.