The Impact of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on Dutch Palm Oil Policy and Regulation
Pol, A.E. van der
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Voluntary certification schemes take an increased central place in environmental governance; as such private sector initiatives provide a multi stakeholder approach to combat complex environmental issues, without the need of government interference. Their effectiveness is highly researched and debated, whereas an understanding of their effect in a wider governmental context is too moderate, yet crucial. The same goes for the certification of the contested Roundtable of Sustainable Palm oil, an organization which aims to make sustainable palm oil the norm, but of which an understanding of its impact on a wider political context is currently missing. Within this research, it has been concluded that the palm oil the RSPO calls sustainable is often linked to human rights abuse, land robbery and illegal rainforest destruction. The aim of sustaining the industry is essential to achieve fundamental change. Nevertheless, the standards must be effective and be effectuated in practice. Furthermore, the Netherlands has actively acted upon the palm oil issue. However, the government has not developed an additional framework to correct the lack of effectiveness of the RSPO. Instead, the government promotes the standards of the RSPO, and Indonesia and Malaysia’s even less effective sustainability standards and aims to increase the amount of palm oil as a component for biofuel. The congruence of the effectiveness of the RSPO and the policy of the Dutch government shows that however complex the situation and the search for the best tools available may be, it is extremely important to stay critical on voluntary certification schemes as their success may not be guaranteed.