KOTA KINABALU: Unilever - one of the world’s largest consumer goods company - is committing US$2.5 mil (RM10.3 mil) to support Sabah over the next five years in certifying palm oil according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards.
Announcing this at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco recently, Unilever is also committing to procurement of the RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
In a statement after the summit, chief executive facilitator Cynthia Ong said those already supporting Sabah’s process include the Swedish-Danish (company) AAK, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), HSBC, the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020 and international philanthropic foundations, acknowledging Sabah’s commitment to statewide, or jurisdiction certification of its palm oil by 2025.
She said this jurisdictional approach aims to certify entire landscapes as a unit, transforming the focus from the individual producer to the jurisdiction as a whole.
“Sabah’s bold decision has inspired other jurisdictions to similarly take up the challenge. It rallies all sectors around a set of standards, brings collective resources and expertise to the table and reduces both practical and financial burden to the industry,” she said.
“Forever Sabah is a technical advisor to the Sabah Jurisdiction Certification Steering Committee (JCSC),” Ong said.
She said the jurisdictional approach attends to core sustainability issues such as High Conservation Value landscapes, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for communities, sustainable smallholder livelihoods, land legalities, migrant worker rights, and other aspects that are needed to address critical social and environmental concerns.
Meanwhile, Ong also welcomed Malaysia’s requirement for all growers to be certified under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard, a policy decision that is in line with sustainable development.
“MSPO will be important to help smallholders and mid-sized producers get on the path of improving practices, to catch up with the 24% of Sabah’s oil palm plantation areas that are already certified to the international RSPO standard,” she said.
RSPO was built through detailed consultation along the supply chain, from growers in Malaysia and Indonesia to consumers around the world, and much effort has been made in Malaysia to determine the National Interpretation framework on the ground, so that the RSPO standards reflect the national context and aspirations.
WWF-Malaysia Conservation director, Dr. Henry Chan said it makes business sense for the global community to be part of co-developing standards for an important commodity like palm oil as it builds credibility and trust.
“Many years of work, by thousands from research, business and NGOs across the supply chain, has been invested into RSPO standards and National Interpretation processes; let us make the best use of these efforts,” he said.