Certification for responsible palm oil cultivation

Description For responsible palm oil cultivation, certification entails responsible management of land, including taking habitat loss, carbon emissions, fire and watershed and land degradation into account within management and contingency planning. Social aspects are also addressed.

What is the issue? Conversion of forest to palm oil plantation is occurring at a rapid pace in Borneo. As forest cover is eliminated, forest ecosystem services such as water regulation, flood and landslide prevention, soil function maintenance and habitat provision services are eliminated. Especially on peatlands, conversion triggers near irreversible damage. Quality and quantity of water supply are affected, with resulting impacts on aquatic life and human health. Current land use legislation does not take traditional claims to ancestral lands into account, often causing social conflict and vulnerability to poverty. Degraded land is available but currently not favored for palm oil cultivation due to extra costs (bureaucracy, land conflicts, delays).

Who is the seller? Companies

Who is the buyer?Middlemen, companies

Steps towards
successful business model
  • Contact an accredited certification body for initial information on certification principles and criteria, costs and time;
  • If needed, implement changes in areas in which you are not yet compliant;
  • Assessment is conducted by an approved certification body on the basis of which certificate of compliance is issued, or rejected with recommendations on further required action to obtain certification.
What can investors do? Investors can deny uncertified companies credit and adopt certification as an eligibility criterion for lending.

What can the private sector do? Invest in certification;
  • Lobby for extending the duration of exploitation permits, so that businesses will have an incentive to adopt a longer-term view;
  • Assist smallholders with information and technology to meet certification standards.
What can
consumers do?
Buy from producers who are committed to ‘green procurement’ and use certified palm oil in their production chain

What can the Government do? National:
  • Provide financial incentives in the form of subsidies for use of degraded land;
  • Prohibit, or place steep fees on, conversion of forested land;
  • Where necessary, adapt requirements of existing certification bodies to local policy, legal and institutional conditions;
  • Promote and incentivize certification;
  • Reduce barriers to certification for smallholders;
  • Draft legislation that recognizes the rights of indigenous communities in the HoB, including tenure/use rights;
  • Extend the duration of concessions and exploitation permits, so that producers have an incentive to adopt a longer-term view on land and water management.
  • Prioritize use of existing degraded land for future expansion of palm oil;
  • Develop degraded land database showing location, soil type, owner and current land use;
  • Preferential taxation for certified businesses;
  • Only issue long-term exploitation permits.
Contribution to…
  • Securing natural capital: Contributes to the health of ecosystems and ecosystem services.
  • Poverty reduction: Lack of adequate quality water sources has great impacts on the lives of the poor; addressing degradation reduces vulnerability to shocks.
  • Economic growth: Palm oil industry can continue to provide income in a way that ensures a sustainable supply in the future.
  • Climate change mitigation / adaptation: Despite the detrimental effect of monoculture on resilience to climate change, palm trees do fix carbon.