The European Commission set out its vision and ideas for how the continent can help to protect – and restore – the world’s forests. What does this mean for the palm oil industry, and what do we think here at EPOA? We set out our stance on this crucial issue in a recent position paper. In summary, here’s what we think:
Since the turn of the century many different voluntary and (national) mandatory sustainability initiatives have been introduced with success in the palm oil industry. Although we still face enough challenges, we can also proudly say that the palm oil industry is a frontrunner in the development of sustainability within agriculture worldwide.
We shouldn’t use regulations as barriers for trade or burdens for already vulnerable and in many cases smallholder producers. As palm oil industry we need to be bold about our sustainable practices and celebrate progress made. The EU plays a decisive role in sharing truthful information and prevent misleading green labeling. This is crucial for transparency and the credibility of the EU and the legislation and regulations adopted.
The EU is not the only market that imports forest-risk commodities. We believe the EU should engage with other sizable importers of forest-risk commodities beyond Europe, which is essential to have impact on a global scale. The F2F strategy is an opportunity for the EU to start the development of international standards for sustainable production and consumption. But this can only be effective if EU regulatory and non-regulatory measures are:
The EU imports only a part of global palm oil production and more than 85 per cent of palm oil used for food, feed and oleochemicals in Europe is already certified sustainable. We believe it is necessary for the EU to develop concrete fruitful dialogue and partnership support programs with the producing countries. This should include forest management, law enforcement, traceability, labour issues and support to especially the smallholder producers. It’s vital to engage people and help them wherever they are in the supply chain – smallholders, bigger producers/refiners, food producers, retail and consumers.