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New ZSL toolkit boosts transparency for palm oil

19 Nov New ZSL toolkit boosts transparency for palm oil

A new platform launched by wildlife conservation charity ZSL seeks to raise the level of trust and transparency in the sector by assessing palm oil companies on their environmental policies.

The global palm oil industry is set for a shake-up with the launch of a ground-breaking new tool by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) that will significantly raise the level of transparency in the sector.

The international conservation group recently announced a free online resource called the Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit, or SPOTT, which is designed to allow investors and stakeholders in the industry to assess and monitor oil palm growers on the sustainability of their operations.

An attempt by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to develop a region-wide computer system to monitor hotspots in Indonesia and identify the companies responsible was stymied by the reluctance of some member governments to release company concession maps due to legal concerns.

Chua Chin Wei, deputy director of sustainability at the think tank Singapore Institute for International Affairs, noted that while there are several standards to certify sustainable agriculture, these certifications are not easily traceable.

“To achieve this, companies must disclose their concession maps to the public, and devote resources to tracing each purchased product back to the actual plantation,” he said.

ZSL wants to bring clarity on the globally agreed expectations for environmental best practice, and SPOTT should provide guidance to growers on what and how to disclose. It comes back to transparency and identifying what is important to share in order to build trust in sustainable palm oil.

The above is an excerpt from an article originally published in Eco-Business on 19 Nov 2014.