Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

What is the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and Certified Sustainable Palm Oil?

© Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a not-for-profit association that unites stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry to develop and implement global standards for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

It was formed in 2003 to address the negative social and environmental issues associated with palm oil production, such as deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and land grabs. It began with just 10 members but now has more than 1,300 members from 50 countries.

Members of the RSPO include environmental and social non-government organisations, such as WWF and Oxfam, as well as oil palm producers, palm oil processors and traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers and financial institutions.

All RSPO members have pledged to support the transformation of the global palm oil industry towards sustainability, and to set their own deadlines for taking action.


Setting the standard for sustainable palm oil

As one of the founding members of the RSPO, WWF has helped develop the standards, making sure they include strong social and environmental criteria, including a ban on converting High Conservation Value forests to oil palm plantations.

The RSPO standard is far more comprehensive, robust and widely implemented than any other palm oil sustainability standard, anywhere in the world. Certification bodies that are independent of both the RSPO and the companies themselves are enlisted to audit the production standard, which helps maintain the RSPO’s credibility and independence.

Among other things, the RSPO standard requires an ethical conduct policy and legal compliance, including the legal right for producers to use the land they operate on; as well as the free, prior and informed consent of local communities to use this land.

The RSPO also calls on producers to avoid planting on peat swamps, or to plant only in ways that minimise soil erosion and the drainage of peat soils; minimise greenhouse gas emissions from new plantations; protect waterbodies; and eliminate pollution from pesticides.

In recent years, as the RSPO has grown, it has come under increasing scrutiny and pressure. WWF welcomes this, and in 2013 we helped review and improve the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria. We also supported the RSPO to set up a robust system for companies to report their progress annually. This information was used to help compile the latest Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard.
A view over the palm oil plantation, photograped from a fire tower, Musim Mas, Riau, Sumatra. 
The ... / ©: James Morgan / WWF International
A view over the palm oil plantation, photograped from a fire tower, Musim Mas, Riau, Sumatra. The palm oil plantation is owned by the Indonesian palm oil producer Musim Mas and has been certified according to RSPO criteria for sustainable palm oil production.
© James Morgan / WWF International
Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard  / ©: WWF International
The 2013 Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard assesses the performance of 130 major retailers, food service companies and consumer goods and other manufacturers worldwide on their use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).

Download the scorecard.