Welcome news for forests in Gabon: the RSPO standard for sustainable palm oil is adapted for Gabon
The roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO) is a set of environmental and social criteria, which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. When properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions. RSPO has more than 3,000 members worldwide who represent all links along the palm oil supply chain. They have committed to produce, source and/or use sustainable palm oil certified by the RSPO
Eugene Ndong Ndoutoume, Business and Biodiversity Programme Coordinator, WWF Gabon:
“This is a first contextualization of a voluntary sustainable palm oil standard in Gabon while providing a practical guide for certification bodies that may be unfamiliar with the national context. The approved RSPO standard is a mandatory framework for future certifications of palm oil production in Gabon. While incorporating applicable national laws and regulations, it also includes good social and environmental practices that stakeholders consider to be essential and necessary for eco-compatible palm oil production in Gabon. The adoption of the RSPO standard in Gabon is a big step toward forest conservation, even though other complementary initiatives such as land-use planning and integration of sustainability principles in national laws and regulations still need to be implemented.”
The process of adapting the RSPO national interpretation in Gabon started in 2012. A working group consisting of WWF and other stakeholders drafted the national guidelines, which were posted online and subject to several public consultations. In order to get the perspective of local communities, public consultations were conducted from December 23rd 2014 to April 29th 2015 among communities living around palm oil plantations in towns of Kango, Makouké, Fougamou and Mandji. WWF both initiated and was a major stakeholder in the project, including overseeing the technical aspects of the process, facilitating thematic working groups, and running public consultations and workshops. WWF thanks the governmental agencies, local NGOs and local communities for their commitment and participation in the process.
Marthe Mapangou, Country leader, WWF Gabon:
“There is an ever urgent need and growing global concern that commodities are produced without causing harm to the environment or society. RSPO certification is an assurance to buyers of palm oil products that the standard of production is sustainable. Palm oil producers are certified through strict verification of the production process to the stringent RSPO Principles & Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production by accredited certification bodies, and can be withdrawn at any time in case of infringement of the rules and standards. All organisations in the supply chain that use RSPO certified sustainable oil products are audited to prevent overselling and mixing palm oil with conventional (or non-sustainable) oil palm products. These organisations can claim the use of RSPO certified sustainable oil palm products “on pack” by using the RSPO Trademark.”
WWF aims to ensure that all palm oil plantations in Gabon comply with the national RSPO standard. Meanwhile, WWF also advocates for inclusive land use planning and the elaboration of national laws and regulations for forest, biodiversity and customary usage rights conservation in Gabon.