The latest data report published by EPOA and IDH is showing that, in 2019, some 86% of European palm oil imports was sustainable. Highlighting progress in the work towards closing the gap to reach 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe.
However, despite the encouraging overall outcome, behind this number data shows that total import of palm oil increased but the volume of sustainable palm oil dropped.
The annual monitoring of sustainable palm oil import, executed since 2016 by both organizations, covers palm oil used in food, feed, and oleochemicals for EU28 countries and Switzerland.
Daan Wensing, Global Landscapes Director at IDH, applauds the industry for reaching the 86%: “We are almost at 100% sustainable palm oil and are setting a great example. Unfortunately, sustainability numbers decreased, so we need to decide together on what is missing and what actions need to be taken now. Only by championing more ethical production, we can strive to improve both landscapes and smallholder livelihoods in palm oil producing countries.”
For 2019, total palm oil import increased by 5%, but data is showing only a 1% increase in RSPO physical certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), and a 7% decrease in RSPO and Independent Smallholder credits. Highlighting a 1% drop in total RSPO volume.
Palm oil plays a big part in our day-to-day lives, and the demand for the world’s most versatile vegetable oil is showing an increase for years already, as is supply. With this economic growth comes the increased risk of unsustainable production processes demolishing tropical forests and peatland, and unethical practices threatening livelihoods of smallholders and surrounding communities.
Earlier this year, IDH published a first-of-its-kind report, The Urgency of Action to Tackle Tropical Deforestation, providing a comprehensive overview of the current status of deforestation. In the report, IDH sums up the status quo, reviews key gaps in current sustainability plans and proposes recommendations to catalyze action on deforestation-free tropical commodities pre- and post-2020.
Daan Wensing: “Forest degradation in tropical countries is largely caused by land use for eight key agricultural commodities – soy, palm oil, beef, tropical timber, cocoa, coffee, wood pulp, and rubber. Deforestation may occur in producing countries, but the agricultural expansion is driven by market demand, and responsibility for this deforestation also lies with consumers. Understanding where deforestation is happening, and how demand drives it are crucial to designing relevant interventions.”
In the palm oil sector, IDH works with partners towards building responsible sourcing practices to increase the uptake of sustainable palm oil. We link this to responsible production in landscapes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria and Colombia. We also work on policy frameworks through support of the National Initiatives with EPOA, and the Verified Sourcing Area approach to strengthen sustainable supply chains.
Up until last year, IDH mainly focused on the European market and Indonesia as a producing country. Since then, we have started working on the Indian market, where we convene stakeholders, monitor uptake and work on policy. Similarly, IDH will start working in another major palm oil consumer country – China, from 2021.