IPOP pops under government pressure?
A group of the world’s largest palm oil refiners agreed to disband and dissolve their 2014 collective commitment to remove deforestation and exploitation of people and local communities from their palm oil supply chains. In a statement, Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP) signatories Golden Agri Resources, Wilmar, Cargill, Asian Agri, Musim Mas, and Agro Lestari - representing 60% of Indonesian palm oil exports - asserted they would uphold their existing individual sustainability commitments, but that governmental legislation had fulfilled the purpose of IPOP. However, while governmental legislation mandates protection of primary forests and peatland, it does not require protection of secondary forests and high-carbon-content bushlands as IPOP did. Gemma Tillack, Agribusiness Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network, argued that “the government led Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) system has an important role to play, but it will not deliver the extension services, market access and land security for small holders promised by the IPOP.”
Read more at the Straight Times.
Stage fright over dirty palm oil contracts
Bunge became the latest agribusiness to cancel future palm oil contracts with the producer IOI Corporation for its failure to meet its deforestation policy and for its corresponding suspension from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). IOI’s environmental transgressions not only led to a boycott among many of its large palm oil purchasers, but also hurt the company’s bottom line and boosted sales of its competitor, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd. Another purchaser, Cargill, has called on IOI to establish a deforestation policy and implementation plan. Yet many green groups view this as ineffective or worse. “Cargill’s willingness to do business with repeat deforesters like IOI makes their sustainability policy look like a joke,” said Glenn Hurowitz, Managing Director at the advocacy and campaign organization, Waxman Strategies.
Read more on Mongabay.com
Moo-ving ahead on Global Strategy
By unanimous vote, the board of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) approved its five-year strategy. The GRSB will aim to be relevant to the industry, achieve tangible impacts in sustainability, and act as a trusted global voice on beef and sustainability. The GRSB does not set standards and will not create a certification program, but instead will work to provide a common baseline understanding of sustainable beef that national roundtables and other initiatives can use to meet their needs. "GRSB does not have the capacity to work everywhere, and since we started we have had a clear vision that local knowledge and experience will be the key to sustainability” said Mr. Petre, GRSB Executive Director.
Read more from the Cattle Site.
Makeover for Ag trade legislation
Two conservation organizations urged Ministers to develop a European Union (EU) action plan on deforestation and forest degradation to ensure that only legally and sustainably produced commodities are imported. In their letter, Fern and Conservation International Europe praised the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Program’s establishment of legally binding bilateral trade agreements on timber, because of the documented improvements in forest governance in commodity producing countries. But policies and mechanisms like these, they argued, should be replicated for trade in palm oil, cattle, and soy-based products, which are also major contributors to deforestation and climate change. A recently released report finds that achieving global climate goals will require government and company commitments toward reducing deforestation.
Read more at Food Navigator.
Teak’s Last Stand
A new government moratorium on timber production in Burma’s Pegu Yoma mountain range brings hope that its teak population, Tectona grandis, might recover. The ban will run for 10 years (2017-2027) and applies to logging by corporations, communities, and illicit traders. Although praised as progress, the ban faces great hurdles in the realm of enforcement. In the past, Burma’s military government has undermined regulatory efforts and even been found complicit in extralegal harvests. It has yet to be seen whether the new civilian-led government and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation will be able to control the region and enforce the ban.
Read more at The Irrawaddy
EUTR unswayed by UK
The UK’s recent vote to exit the EU, dubbed ‘Brexit’, is unlikely to disrupt existing laws governing UK timber trade, asserts Kerstin Canby of Forest Trends. The UK does not officially leave the EU until its two year notice period has expired; leaving the EUTR (EU Timber Regulations) intact until that time. Upon exiting the EU, the UK may choose to retain access to Europe’s lucrative “single market” by adhering to EU standards - as Norway does. In the event that the UK chooses not to follow EU regulations, they would most likely fall back upon national regulations such as the Timber Products Regulation of 2013 and continue to engage with the EUTR by way of the Timber Regulation Enforcement Exchange.
Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace
A clean air coalition, for peat’s sake!
Ahead of this year’s haze season, five companies - Unilever, Ayam Brand, Danone, IKEA, and Wildlife Reserves Singapore - have banded together to promote the switch to sustainably-produced palm oil. The group calls itself the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil, and announced that it seeks to reduce the slash-and-burn practices that cause haze pollution. The alliance is supported by WWF Singapore, which will actively recruit more companies to join. This corporate/NGO alliance is the latest in a string of Singaporean anti-haze efforts such as the government’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act of 2014.
Read more at Channel News Asi