It was one of those days when we felt like change was in the air – even if it was a small victory it was an important one.
Yesterday, we confirmed that notorious palm oil producer and forest destroyer, Duta Palma, has (finally) been ejected from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – an organisation with the declared aim of ensuring environmentally responsible palm oil production.
You might remember Duta Palma: we’ve been investigating and uncovering their practices for the last few years, revealing as recently as three weeks ago the company’s rogue activities in Indonesia.
This company has a long history of deforestation, community conflict, illegality, and non-compliance with RSPO regulations. But finally – and for what it’s worth – Duta Palma no longer has a stamp of approval from the RSPO.
This is good news, even if it means the RSPO dithered over this decision for far too long.
Our forest supporters around the world can claim this as good news for the people who depend on Indonesia’s rich forests, and the many animals that are threatened by the relentless expansion of destructive companies like Duta Palma.
But sadly, the case of Duta Palma is not over. Its operations continue and its legacy of environmental and socially destruction will live on.
There is still a lot of work to be done, and this one action does not mean that being a member of the RSPO is a sign that the palm oil you buy is free from deforestation: see here for what we had to say about the RSPO’s latest raft of weak and ineffective rules.
At the end of the day, it’s up to the movers and shakers in the palm oil industry to take responsibility for their supply chains. The Duta Palma case reveals the risk faced by respected global brands that palm oil they purchase through international traders may come in part from illegal and destructive operations. Cargill, the world’s largest privately owned company, clearly stated it no longer trades with Duta Palma. But traders such as Wilmar International and Sime Darby that have been known to supply Duta Palma's dirty palm oil to the international market need to come clean about their supply chains. They need to commit to zero deforestation practices.
And we also need political solutions.
We are urging the government to use the expected moratorium extension to review all existing concessions areas so that rogue operators don’t get away with environmental crimes again.
So the work continues. We will continue to investigate, document and expose deforestation and the devastation it causes to forest dependent communities, Indonesia’s precious population of tigers and the climate. We look forward to reporting more good news soon.
Watch this space.
Suzanne Kroger is the coordinator of Greenpeace International's Palm Oil Campaign