International Declaration Against the ‘Greenwashing’ of Palm Oil by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

In defence of Human Rights, Food Sovereignty, Biodiversity and Climate Justice

Ironically, on 16 October 2008, World Food and Food Sovereignty Day, a meeting will start in Cartagena (Colombia) to promote monoculture oil palm plantations, that are precisely the cause of so many violations of the Right to Food and contrary to food sovereignty insofar as they undermine the peoples’ right to produce their own food according to their territorial conditions and their food culture.

RSPOThe First Latin American Meeting of the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil” (RSPO) is a meeting of the board of directors of the Roundtable and representatives of companies involved in the oil palm agro-industry in Latin America, seeking to “acquire the corresponding certification from RSPO mainly in order to put palm oil, its derivatives and products on international markets.”1 This is yet another attempt at “green-washing” the agro-industry, in response to all the negative publicity that it has had regarding the food crisis and in response to widespread world social and political opposition to expansion plans for the present model of agrofuel production.2

In Colombia, social and environmental organisations denounce that “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), is based on the false premise of establishing criteria for sustainability and giving a stamp of approval to palm plantations, in order to sell the product with social and environmental guarantees, thus seeking to legitimize a harmful business that infringes on the rights of indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant communities. At the same time as it seriously impacts lands and natural heritage through a strategy that seeks to facilitate the marketing of products derived from the oil palm, the RSPO generates only higher dividends, and not solutions to the conflicts that are created. In fact, no certification process can guarantee such solutions”. Palm oil is a strategic raw material in the agribusiness sector as it is the most marketed and consumed vegetable oil in the world, used as food and in industrial and energy products. It is produced for export to global markets (basically the EU, China, India, and the US) in tropical zones, under a regime of large-scale monoculture. The negative consequences of monoculture oil palm plantations are tangible in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua-New Guinea, Cameroon, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Cambodia, Philippines and Thailand and also in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

2The 6th Annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the 5th Annual General Assembly of Members is to be held in Bali (Indonesia) on 28 November 2008.

Read the complete letter here (153 KB).
There are also translations into Bahasa Indonesia, French, Italian and Spanish

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