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Ten years ‘sustainable’ palmoil, a reason to celebrate?


Several organisation are critical about the RSPO. Just like Friends of the Earth International, FOEI, ASEED does not see the RSPO as a solution because RSPO will not solve the problem of a growing demand for palmoil, partly for agrofuels. The RSPO is one of the voluntary standards through which industry can stick a green label to a product without looking at the deeper causes of the problems. That is why ASEED concurs with the statement of FOEI that the RSPO is not a “credible certification process”. (3)


Greenpeace also is critical. In a casestudy about the conglomerat Sinar Mas, an Indonesian company, that is active in palmoil and the paper and pulp industry, Greenpeace describes that this company still is cutting down forest and clearing peat lands illegally. Sinar Mas is a member of the RSPO through two companies, PT Ivo Mas Tunggal and PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources en Technology Tbk (PT SMART). Because of these memberships of the RSPO Sinar Mas seems to be a sustainable, ‘green’ company, but in reality it nothing but a green layer on a dirty business. (4)


In a report of the World Rainforest Movement the RSPO criteria are looked at. From the report can be concluded that some criteria might improve the current practices around palmoil but at the same time:

  • deforestation is not prevented, because only primary forests are protected, but all the other forests are not;

  • the rights of people are not protected because the RSPO does not halt the expansion of palmoil plantations. This undermines their food sovereignty because the land that was used for local food production is now used for an export crop. The health of the local people is besides negative influenced because of the use of pesticides.


The RSPO does not seem an adequate solution for the problems that the bid demand for palmoil is causing. It would be better if the law in Indonesia would be adjusted and implemented so that the local people would be protected against the expansion of palmoil and other plantations at the expanse of their food sovereignty. This was one of the reasons the organisations that signed the letter wanted to ask the president to stop the expansion of these kind of plantations.



  1. http://www.robinwood.de/fileadmin/Redaktion/Dokumente/Tropenwald/Open_letter_indonesian_president_31.10.12_engl.pdf

  2. http://www.rspo.org/en/vision_and_mission

  3. http://www.foei.org/en/media/archive/2009/certified-palm-oil-not-a-solution

  4. http://www.wrm.org.uy/publications/briefings/RSPO.pdf