Haze, fires, irreparable destruction of forests and peat land, vanishing habitats and species, land grabs and loss of lives… Singapore companies are coming together to deal with social and environmental impacts of palm oil through a new alliance. By Mallika Naguran
Singapore, 27 June 2016. Five companies have stepped up to the task of leading the way for others to follow or collaborate with through an alliance with the prime objective of preventing deforestation, forest fires, smoke and haze in relation to palm oil production, distribution and consumption.
The Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil was announced today to bring together players in the palm oil industry to derive solutions for the uptake of sustainably produced palm oil.
The five companies are Unilever, Danone, Ayam Brand, IKEA and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Year after year since 1972, Southeast Asia has experienced significant transboundary air pollution, commonly referred to as haze, mostly due to slash and burn agricultural method in neighbouring Indonesia and Malaysia.
About two million hectares of forests have been burnt down in Indonesia alone in just five months of 2015, according to Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan).
The public outcry and activism by civic groups in 2015's prolonged haze has prompted the formation of the alliance in Singapore.
"The alliance sends a clear signal to consumers about which companies are committed to sustainability," said Elaine Tan, chief executive of WWF Singapore. "This is a timely opportunity for non-governmental organisations and businesses to work together towards transforming the palm oil industry."
Recognising the need for greater inputs outside of the private sector, NGOs and institutes are also invited to become associate members of the alliance, such as local civic society PMHaze and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs .
While details of who will provide secretariat services for this alliance have yet to be decided, according to Gregory Bardies, corporate relations manager with WWF Singapore, the alliance will seek to promote responsible corporate practices and commitment through B2B programmes such as case studies and reference documents.
The other two areas that WWF is looking at is capacity building through the running of workshops and the establishment of working groups.
There would be distinct clusters in the working groups for palm oil growers, traders and processors and palm oil uses. There would be a fourth working group for advocacy and stakeholders.
“This whole thing is a sustainable journey. Companies who have yet to get on this journey can get help by joining the alliance to increase their capacity,” said Bardies.
WWF is also looking into having a “buyers group” to make it easier for the sourcing of sustainable palm oil products in Singapore.
Sustainably produced palm oil through certification labels such as the Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is administered by the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
The RSPO guidelines will be referenced by the alliance in reaching out to Singapore companies.
WWF Singapore hopes to have eight to ten members join the alliance by the end of 2016.
Keen to know more or join the alliance? Get in touch with the WWF-Singapore Palm Oil Team. Gregory Bardies, firstname.lastname@example.org and Karen Sim, email@example.com Tel: +65 6730 8100.
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