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RT13 Trifecta of Environmental Hope

RSPO Roundtable 13 palm oil


The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil version RT13 wasn’t even over and folks were asking me, ‘well, what do you think?’ generally followed by, ‘has it been worth it?’ If this project has taught me anything it is never be quick to judge or evaluate, underneath it all surprises lie, and serendipity will eventually play its cards.

So sitting her on a flight to Jakarta, a day ahead of schedule (bound for Ketapang and orangutan releases into the wilds of Gunung Palung NP), and a day before the RT13 officially wraps up, three things stand out and beg for further contemplation and  investigation:

1) Natural resources loss liability and compensation,

2) HCVs (High Conservation Values) and HCS (High Carbon Stocks) – which share some virtues and values, and

3) Clarity and consensus on what sustainable means.

All three are interconnected and all three are on some level being ignored, off-put, or passed over by RSPO. The reality is the Big 5 — Wilmar, Sime Darby GAR, Cargill, Musim Mas — could collectively put these three issues to rest if they had the mind to. Of course my 4th grade brain begs the question: Why don’t they have the mind to?

Often what is not said or discussed is more interesting and illuminating than all that discussed. (The flight attendant is looking at me cross-eyed, so putting this laptop away. I’ll dig into each of the above and post something that might help in understanding the importance of each, and why they need addressing by RSPO (in my humble opinion) in a future post.) In quick summation (before this 4th grader gets scolded again) RSPO is not, and never will be the solution, ultimately the Big 5 will need to set up their own OPEC — let’s call it the Oil Palm Economic Consortium, and control this mess for their own needs. A precursor to that may have been launched in May of this year with IPOP—the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge. IPOP brings together Wilmar, Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) as well as Asian Agri and Musim Mas. Let’s just hope the environment’s needs play into that.

“Yes mam, laptop off.”



Notes & Sources

RSPO RT13 personal attendance



2015-2016 Global research and reporting on great apes made possible in part through the generous financial support of the Philadelphia Zoo


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