RSPO says NO!
Last week the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) suspended membership of one of Malaysia’s largest palm oil conglomerates, IOI Group, because of alleged transgressions in its operations in Indonesian Borneo. NGOs submitted formal grievances against the company to the RSPO beginning six years ago. “The RSPO allowed IOI to abuse its systems in attempts to sweep serious non-compliance with law and RSPO standards and procedures under the carpet,” suggested Eric Wakker, of the consultancy Aidenvironment. Ahead of the ruling, non-profit Chain Reaction Research warned of potential economic risks of suspension. IOI attempted to reassure investors that less than 0.5 percent of revenues came from sales of certified sustainable palm oil. Nonetheless their share price dropped following the news.
Read more from Mongabay.
Making a Fashion Statement:
Six Chinese companies joined almost 60 multi-national fashion designers and brands by pledging to not source fashion materials from rare and endangered forests. This is part of the CanopyStyle pledge campaign, an initiative of the environmental non-profit Canopy. These companies comprise 65 percent of the Chinese market in the production of rayon, a wood-based fiber material associated with deforestation, says Canopy’s founder, Nicole Rycroft. “With the continued shift in brands' environmental requirements, incorporating sustainable forest fiber procurement criteria is a sound business decision,” explained Dr. Christian Reisinger, CEO of Shandong Yamei. Li Baikuan of Tangshan Sanyou suggested the apparel industry could collaborate by using “alternative fibers such as garment waste, recovered fabrics, agricultural residues, and other non-woods.”
Read more on Fibre 2 Fashion.
Greenpeace grades company performance, D for Deforestation
Earlier this month, Greenpeace released a Company Scorecard evaluating 14 global consumer goods companies and their performance in removing deforestation from their palm oil supply. Companies were assessed based on responsible sourcing, transparent reporting, including correcting noncompliance for all suppliers, and support for industry-wide reforms such as the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG). Notably, none of the companies were able to ensure that their palm oil supply was not associated with deforestation. The three worst performing companies were Colgate Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and Pepsico, all of which made no deforestation commitments in 2014. The Italian confectioner Ferrerro stood out as the only company capable of tracing its palm oil supply back to plantations.
Read more from Eco-business.
Palm Oil’s Strictest Standards
POIG has released a revised set of verification indicators on palm oil production. The POIG standards are meant to complement the RSPO criteria by addressing specific gaps, such as: High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest protection, peatland protection, use of pesticides, human rights protections, and labor practices. Beginning in March 2016, adherence to the standards is compulsory for POIG member companies. Three of its member companies, Agropalma, New Britain Palm Oil, and Daabon, were extensively involved in test driving the new set of standards and have set out to prove that producing deforestation-free palm oil is both operationally possible and economically feasible.
Read more from Eco-Business.
Making it personal, going deforestation-free
Allie Goldstein, a Senior Associate at Ecosystem Marketplace, recently tried living deforestation-free, not buying products containing the four commodities most associated with tropical deforestation. With palm oil found in over half of consumer products and labeled under at least 224 different names, Goldstein struggled to find basic items such as soap and cosmetics. She had to buy many products in bulk because of unlabeled wood-based packaging and ate a vegan diet, as most domesticated terrestrial animals are fed untraceable soy-based feeds. Goldstein concludes that it is more important for activists to “urg[e] businesses to publicly commit to sourcing deforestation-free commodities” than painstakingly checking labels for sustainability.
Read more on the Washington Post.
The Mounting Casualties of Deforestation Divestment
The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) – worth $828B, continues to uphold its commitment to responsible investment. Its 2015 Annual Report highlights the fund’s recent divestments, including 11 companies whose operations are associated with substantial deforestation. These companies are the latest in a series of expulsions based on a risk-based investment plan. Since 2012 the GPFG has divested from over 120 companies, with over 50 of those companies being linked to deforestation. Despite the irony of an oil-based fund making environmental risk decisions, the GPFG is pioneering a model of investment where decisions are linked to sustainable forest practices.
Read more from Mongabay.
GLAD to help with deforestation
A new satellite mapping system has been released by the institute for Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD). This system is able to autonomously monitor changes in forest cover and send alerts when it discovers suspicious activity. Although satellites have already been used to monitor deforestation, the GLAD system sends alerts at a speed that was previously unheard of. The swiftness of the alerts allows enforcement officials to catch illegal deforestation in progress and can provide useful hard evidence to support convictions.
Read more from The Guardian.
Fire-free villages are catchin’
116 Indonesian villages impacted by last year’s forest fires have launched local education campaigns and patrols to discourage illegal burning of forests. Sering, a village in the Riau province using the fire-free village model, saw steep declines in areas affected by fire. Of the over 1 million hectares the village controls, approximately 80 were burned in 2013 before the program started. Only 11 hectares were burned in 2015, and no fires have been reported this year. Part of the solution is a push for greater local authority and accountability in suppressing forest fires said Najib Asmani, advisor to the Provincial Governor of South Sumatra.
Read more on climate Home.