The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has approved an interpretation of the RSPO standard for the production of socially and environmentally responsible palm oil for Gabon.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an international not-for-profit organisation that unites stakeholders from grower to consumer across the palm oil industry value chain has approved an interpretation of the RSPO standard for the production of socially and environmentally responsible palm oil for Gabon.
RSPO is a set of environmental and social criteria, which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When appropriately applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.
WWF welcomes guidelines
In a statement, the world’s largest independent conservation organisation World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) says that it “welcomes these guidelines as a valuable tool that makes it easier for Gabonese producers to develop palm oil plantations that do not harm valuable forests, communities or workers”.
– This is a first contextualization of a voluntary sustainable palm oil standard in Gabon while providing a practical guide for certification bodies that may be unfamiliar with the national context. The approved RSPO standard is a mandatory framework for future certifications of palm oil production in Gabon. While incorporating applicable national laws and regulations, it also includes good social and environmental practices that stakeholders consider to be essential and necessary for eco-compatible palm oil production in Gabon, said Eugene Ndong Ndoutoume, Business and Biodiversity Programme Coordinator, WWF Gabon.
Initiated by WWF, the process of adapting the RSPO national interpretation in Gabon started in 2012. A working group consisting of WWF and other stakeholders drafted the national guidelines, which were posted publically and subjected to several public consultations including local communities living around palm oil plantations in towns of Kango, Makouké, Fougamou and Mandji.
– There is an ever-urgent need and growing global concern that commodities are produced without causing harm to the environment or society. RSPO certification is an assurance to buyers of palm oil products that the standard of production is sustainable. Palm oil producers are certified through strict verification of the production process to the stringent RSPO Principles & Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production by accredited certification bodies and can be withdrawn at any time in case of infringement of the rules and standards. All organisations in the supply chain that use RSPO certified sustainable oil products are audited to prevent overselling and mixing palm oil with conventional (or non-sustainable) oil palm products. These organisations can claim the use of RSPO certified sustainable oil palm products “on pack” by using the RSPO Trademark, said Marthe Mapangou, Country leader, WWF Gabon.
WWF aims to ensure that all palm oil plantations in Gabon comply with the national RSPO standard. Meanwhile, WWF also advocates for inclusive land use planning and the elaboration of national laws and regulations for forest, biodiversity and customary usage rights conservation in Gabon.
– The adoption of the RSPO standard in Gabon is a big step toward forest conservation, even though other complementary initiatives such as land-use planning and integration of sustainability principles in national laws and regulations still need to be implemented, ended Eugene Ndong Ndoutoume.