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Is the ISPO a friend of sustainable palm oil?

RSPO is challenging several national certification schemes, such as Indonesia’s ISPO and Malaysian’s MSPO. But are these systems really different from their elder?

carte mondiale production huile de palmeWhile others are questioning the robustness, both environmental and in terms of social aspects, of these new certification systems, as well as their capacity to cope with credible field evaluation. However, there are several points that we should not forget.

The RSPO is a voluntary scheme. As a result there will be plantations, large and small, that will not follow the RSPO system for a variety of reasons not analysed here. Furthermore, the RSPO is seen by some as a system set up by westerners, for western consumers.

On the other hand, the ISPO is a compulsory system, meaning that any oil palm plantation in Indonesia will have to be certified and follow best practices requested by the system. Without making any judgement about the robustness of the system, we have to acknowledge that any improvement, compared to business as usual, is good. Especially as this will positively affect all these plantations, existing or to come, that otherwise would never benefit from any sustainability system.