In August 2015, Research centres and universities from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Netherlands hosted an expert meeting on the role of the state in governing the global palm oil industry. The invited experts each avail of a relevant network in the palm oil sector and represent governments of palm oil producing and consuming countries, companies throughout the value chain, civil society organisations from Malaysia and Indonesia and the RSPO.
They identified eight promising ideas to improve the governance of the palm oil sector, with important roles to be assumed by the state in the coming years. These are:
- Promoting an area-based/landscape / sustainable supply shed/ jurisdictional approach to increase the production and uptake of sustainable palm oil;
- Ensuring smallholder inclusion through collaborate efforts, providing them with a full support package;
- Palm oil consuming countries to reach consensus on what sustainable palm oil is, and to introduce the right incentives to purchase sustainable palm oil;
- Increasing the transparency in licensing procedures to start palm oil production;
- Providing clarity on rights and obligations of the industry and SME, in particular in relation to land;
- The rationalisation of existing standards as a means to simplify certification procedures and decrease their costs;
- Improving the perception of the sector amongst consumers;
- Creating a level playing field for all oils and fats with regards to sustainability issues.
The implementation of these promising ideas however is being slowed down by divergent opinions amongst different stakeholders in palm oil consuming and palm oil producing countries, as well as between frontrunners in the palm oil industry and national governments. More efforts are required in the coming years to come to a common understanding.