RSPO fails to deliver on environmental and social sustainability, study finds

JAKARTA — Oil palm plantations that adhere to the world’s leading certification scheme for the crop show no difference in environmental, social and economic sustainability than non-certified estates, a new study has found. The study — carried out by researchers from the University of Queensland and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED), both in Australia, and Borneo Futures — is the first of its kind to assess how effective the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is in achieving its sustainability goals by comparing certified and non-certified concessions. To do that, they created the most comprehensive map and dataset yet of RSPO-certified sites in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. They then used the map and dataset to assess how effectively these plantations delivered on six of the eight central pillars of the RSPO’s principles and criteria: conservation of biodiversity, responsible development of new plantings, responsible consideration of communities, consideration of social impacts, economic viability, and commitment to best practice. Not very well, as it turned out. “No significant difference was found between certified and non-certified plantations for any of the sustainability metrics investigated,” the researchers wrote. In fact, the only area where RSPO certification made a positive impact was in higher yields and share prices for certified companies. “[O]ur results suggest that low confidence in the [RSPO’s] mechanisms for improving overall industry sustainability appears warranted in all but very narrow and economically-oriented interpretations of sustainability,” the researchers concluded. Global demand for products like…

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Original Post by Mongabay

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