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Why is palm oil demonized? [9/4 Webinar Notice]

Recently, a major Japanese institutional investor announced that it would expand the scope of enhanced negative screening to include "palm oil-related companies (excluding companies with a 100% RSPO certification rate)※."

However, it can be said that this decision was made to avoid the risk of some sensational reports and campaigns without understanding the current situation of the production area or the past efforts of related companies.

Should palm oil, which is widely permeated in our daily lives, be put on the negative list, on the same level as nuclear weapons?

Even if RSPO-certified oil is not 100% sourced, some companies conduct their own supplier surveys, have systems in place to prevent human rights violations and support small-scale farmers in the production areas.

In Indonesia, the largest producer of palm oil, about 40% of the cultivated land is managed by small-scale farmers, but due to the high cost of obtaining RSPO certification, the certification acquisition rate of small-scale farmers is lower than that of large-scale farms. It is extremely low in comparison.

Therefore, responding to environmental destruction and human rights issues, which is the goal of ESG investment, is not just for companies to procure 100% RSPO-certified oil. In fact, it may lead to the exclusion of small-scale farmers.

I visited Borneo in July and met small-scale producers. Ordinary farmers tended to their oil palms without hiring anyone to work on their farms.

We will report on this situation in a webinar starting from 2:00 pm on Monday, September 4th. (Written by: Hidemi Yoshida)

※ At the time of writing, I understood 'palm oil-related companies' to be 'Japanese companies sourcing palm oil' and the investor to exclude companies that are not sourcing 100% RSPO-certified oil. But it can also be understood as "palm oil producing companies". In this case, it can also be understood as "100% RSPO certification of their plantation area" or "100% certification including all suppliers such as small-scale producers and primary oil mills". 

In either case, the purpose of this paper remains unchanged. (Added 23 Sept 2023)

  • Date and time: September 4th (Monday) 14:00-16:00

  • Participation fee: Free (participation application required)

  • How to participate: Online viewing (ZOOM webinar)

  • Sponsored by: Solidaridad Japan


14:00 Opening

14:03 "Policies and corporate responses regarding sustainable palm oil"

    Etsuyo Michida, Senior Researcher, Interdisciplinary-studies Center

Institute of Developing Economies-JETRO

14:43 "Henkel's Sustainability Promotion Case"

    Marjon Stamsnijder, Director of Sustainability, Henkel Consumer Brands     

14:50 "Sustainability of oil palm cultivation and livelihoods from the perspective of small-scale farmers"

Hidemi Yoshida, Representative Director of JIZOKEN

15:10 "Solidaridad's initiatives"

    Denka Yanagi, Managing Director, Solidaridad Japan 

15:30 Q&A

16:00 Ending


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