Kuala Lumpur, 19 September 2014 - The world’s five biggest growers of oil palm, namely Asian Agri, IOI Corporation Berhad, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad, Musim Mas Group and Sime Darby Plantation, have agreed not to develop potential high carbon stock areas with immediate effect, while the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Study they are funding is underway.
The HCS Study will, when completed, provide reliable information on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and socio-economic considerations to guide decisions on land conversion to oil palm plantations. The steering committee overseeing the 12-month study is led by leading environmentalist Sir Jonathon Porritt and eminent forest ecologist Dr John Raison.
The study is being funded by the five grower companies, agribusiness groups Wilmar International and Cargill and consumer-goods company Unilever.
This latest decision by the growers comes as a technical committee of 8 scientific experts comes together to undertake the task of guiding and contributing to the work for the HCS Study.
Dr Raison, who is leading the science study said “This study is both well-resourced and fully independent, with all findings to be publicly available. It will extend earlier HCS work to provide more reliable estimates of GHG emissions from both biomass and soils resulting from the establishment as well as on-going management of oil palm plantations. It will also examine the socio-economic implications of setting varying thresholds for acceptable GHG emissions in different locations. These are critical inputs to guide improved land use planning, and better management of oil palm plantations.”
The grower companies and their co-funders in the HCS Study recognise that the findings of the Study will have far reaching implications on developing countries along the equatorial belt, where oil palm is typically grown. As this is a relatively new and complex area of study, similar efforts such as the HCS Approach which was announced on 16 September 2014, are welcome developments that will bring more knowledge and experience to the table, furthering the advancement of sustainable development along the palm oil supply chain.
As members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the growers are already preserving virgin forests, High Conservation Value (HCV) areas, and peat land. They are also working to submit carbon maps and greenhouse gas emission estimates voluntarily to the RSPO.
Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto
The five growers are signatories of the Manifesto, which sets higher standards on sustainable palm oil production compared to the RSPO, for growers, traders, end users, and other stakeholders.
The Manifesto demands increased commitment to sustainable production across the supply chain. This includes no deforestation, creating traceable and transparent supply chains, and protecting peat areas, while ensuring economic and social benefits for the local people and communities where oil palm is grown, and respecting their right to give consent to proposed developments or conservation through the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process.
The HCS Study is a key component of the Manifesto.
Further announcements will be made on the progress of the study.