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Industry leaders discuss climate impacts and traceability, awaiting EUDR guidelines before summer 2024.

BRUSSELS, May 24, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue (SPOD) 2024 Europe successfully convened stakeholders committed to advancing sustainability in the palm oil sector, including representatives from the Commission European Union and the Government of Indonesia. Organized by APAG Oleochemicals Europe, the EU Vegetable Oils and Protein Meal Industry (FEDIOL), IDH, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), this year’s event focused on addressing climate impacts caused by the palm oil sector and explore effective solutions.

Held under the theme “Inclusive Pathways for Climate Smart Solutions”, the dialogue featured prominent speakers discussing multi-faceted approaches to voluntary and mandatory initiatives to combat climate change and improve the overall positive impact of the sector.

In her keynote address, Minou Schillings, regenerative business facilitator and community knitter for The Green Sprint, emphasized the critical role of regenerative business practices in creating resilient and sustainable agricultural systems. “Inclusive pathways can only be realized through diversity: in agriculture, in perspectives, in leadership styles and narratives, in people, in landscapes, ecosystems and all living things,” said Ella Schillings.

A long-awaited debate on the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) shed light on decades of private sector work that has laid a foundation on which to build legislation.

SPOD 2024 was the eleventh event of its kind in Europe. Since the formation of the RSPO 20 years ago, many other voluntary initiatives, including a collaborative palm oil working group on deforestation-free supply chains, traceability down to the plantation level and satellite monitoring, have guided the practical elements of what the European Commission intends to achieve with the EUDR.

Astrid Ladefoged, head of the Planetary Commons, Universal Values ​​and Environmental Security Unit of the European Commission’s Environment DG, recognizing the will and efforts of the private sector said: “we have to continue working with the pioneers and help the rest to catch up with these standards.” Speaking about the remaining challenges until implementation, she acknowledged that there have been efforts by the private sector to improve traceability and although there is still much to be done, implementation on the established timeline seems feasible.

However, comments from the private sector raise concerns about the risk of excluding stakeholders, such as smallholder farmers who, in many cases, have adopted correct practices but are less able to demonstrate compliance due to administrative barriers.

Ladefoged stressed that “due diligence is not a tick-off exercise. Companies can have their own approaches to ensure they source from a sustainable producer. The EUDR guidelines, which will be published before the summer of 2024, should help companies know what to do for implementation. This could include, for example, the use of voluntary certification systems in their risk assessment process.

SPOD 2024 underlined the importance of innovative voluntary measures, such as public-private initiatives, certification and sourcing policies, and legislation to effectively contribute to stopping deforestation, reducing emissions and achieving more measurable sustainability impacts. The dialogue emphasized inclusivity and highlighted the importance of respecting the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders, particularly marginalized smallholder farmers. The debate also highlighted the need to balance voluntary initiatives and legislation to drive meaningful change. As EUDR guidelines are anticipated later this year, the event generated a constructive dialogue on the ongoing cooperation still needed between the private sector and regulators to achieve a sustainable palm oil industry.

About SPOD:

The Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue (SPOD) Europe is an annual event that brings together industry leaders, policymakers, NGOs and other stakeholders to discuss and drive sustainable practices in the palm oil sector. SPOD aims to foster collaboration and innovation to promote environmental and social responsibility in the palm oil supply chain.

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