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We are a not-for-profit that unites stakeholders from the 7 sectors of the palm oil industry: oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.

The RSPO has more than 4,000 members worldwide who represent all links along the palm oil supply chain. They have committed to produce, source and/or use sustainable palm oil certified by the RSPO.

Vision & Missions

RSPO will transform markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm

  • Advance the production, procurement, finance and use of sustainable palm oil products
  • Develop, implement, verify, assure and periodically review credible global standards for the entire supply chain of sustainable palm oil
  • Monitor and evaluate the economic, environmental and social impacts of the uptake of sustainable palm oil in the market
  • Engage and commit all stakeholders throughout the supply chain, including governments and consumers.

Who we are


Related Information

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RSPO Who We Are - Slide Infographic
28 Mar 2019

About sustainable palm oil

What is Certified Sustainable Palm Oil? We call it palm oil that was certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) according to specific criteria. By respecting those criteria, we can help to reduce the negative impacts of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities.

Why do we use palm oil?

Palm oil is used in many of the products on supermarket shelves, from margarine and chocolate to ice cream, soaps, cosmetics, and fuel for cars and power plants. The reason why palm oil is so popular is because:

  • It has great cooking properties – it maintains its properties even under high temperatures.
  • Its smooth and creamy texture and absence of smell make it a perfect ingredient in many recipes, including baked goods (such as biscuits) in particular.
  • It has a natural preservative effect which extends the shelf life of food products.
  • It is also the highest-yielding vegetable oil crop, which makes it very efficient. It needs less than half the land required by other crops to produce the same amount of oil. This makes palm oil the least expensive vegetable oil in the world.

India, China, Indonesia and Europe are the main consumers of palm oil. It is estimated that a French person consumes on average 2 kg of palm oil per year, or 6% of total fat consumption of an adult between the ages of 18 and 72 (source: Fonds Français pour l’Alimentation et la Santé, Etat des lieux, November 2012).

What is the impact of palm oil farming on the environment?

In some regions, oil palm cultivation has caused – and continues to cause – deforestation. This means that land, which was once predominantly covered by primary forest (forest that has never been touched by man) or which housed protected species and biodiversity, was cleared in order to be converted into palm oil plantations.

Likewise, some palm oil plantations were developed without consulting local communities over the use of their land. Some have even been responsible for forcibly displacing people from their land. Violations of workers’ rights to fair payment and safe working conditions and other malpractices have also occurred.

Despite widely-reported malpractices in the industry, a growing number of players in the palm oil industry have committed to adopting more sustainable practices. The result of this gradual transition is an increasing amount of palm oil in our products that has been produced and sourced in a sustainable manner.

Why can't we simply replace palm oil?

Although using other vegetable oils seems like a practical solution, it would actually create similar - if not even larger - environmental and social problems. Therefore, the best solution is to ensure you buy products that contain sustainable palm oil.

There is a misconception that these concerns can be addressed when companies simply stop using palm oil in their products. However, this is not as easy as it sounds for a number of reasons:

  • Replacing palm oil with other types of vegetable oil (such as sunflower, soybean or rapeseed oil) would mean that much larger amounts of land would need to be used, since palm trees produce 4-10 times more oil than other crops per unit of cultivated land. This would result in serious environmental damage, with the risk that more forests would need to be converted into agricultural land.
  • In producing countries, millions of farmers and their families work in the palm oil sector. Palm oil plays an important role in the reduction of poverty in these areas. In Indonesia and Malaysia, a total of 4.5 million people earn their living from palm oil production. Stopping the production of palm oil altogether would create significant problems for these people who support their families by working in this industry.
  • Replacing palm oil with other types of oil is not always feasible due to palm oil’s unique properties as food ingredient. Using other oils would not give the products the same texture and taste that palm oil offers.

The need for sustainable palm oil






In 2008, the RSPO developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimise negative impacts.

One of the most important RSPO criteria states no primary forests or areas which contain significant concentrations of biodiversity (e.g. endangered species) or fragile ecosystems, or areas which are fundamental to meeting basic or traditional cultural needs of local communities (high conservation value areas), can be cleared.

Other RSPO principles stipulate a significantly reduced use of pesticides and fires; fair treatment of workers according to local and international labour rights standards, and the need to inform and consult with local communities before the development of new plantations on their land. You can learn more about RSPO's Principles and Criteria here.

Only by being RSPO-certified by an independent auditor approved by the RSPO can producers claim that they produce, use and/or sell sustainable palm oil.

History & Milestones



    • Launch of RSPO’s educational platform, the Sustainability College, At EURT in June
    • The development of an additional and separate standard, exclusively for independent smallholders commences
    • In June, RSPO and Ulula partner to introduce a simplified and inclusive mechanism to report potential worker’s incidents and abuses in organisations and supply chains.
    • Launch of the China Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance in July by RSPO, China Chamber of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CFNA) and WWF
    • RSPO membership exceeds 4,000 members from 92 countries in October
    • RSPO members adopt the P&C 2018 in November at the annual General Assembly (GA15) in Sabah, Malaysia


    • Launch of PalmTrace in January (replacing eTrace) as RSPO’s official traceability system of RSPO certified oil palm products
    • Review of P&C 2013 commences in March
    • In March, oil palm growers, NGOs and government representatives in Ecuador sign a commitment to continue the process of RSPO jurisdictional certification for selected areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon
    • The Board of Governors approve the strategic framework for RSPO Smallholder Strategy in March
    • In April, DAABON Group(Colombia) become the first oil palm grower in the world to achieve RSPO NEXT certification
    • First P&C Task Force meeting for P&C 2013 review held in May
    • In June, RSPO partners with the World Resource Institute (WRI) to create GeoRSPO, an interactive mapping platform featuring concession maps submitted by RSPO grower members
    • Italy signs the Amsterdam Declaration in June, joining other European countries in the pledge to promote the use of 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020
    • RSPO Board of Governors endorse the revamped Complaints and Appeals Procedures
    • RSPO Smallholder Strategy is endorsed in June
    • RSPO Theory of Change (ToC) is approved in September
    • In October, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and RSPO sign a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote certified sustainable palm oil
    • The North American Sustainable Palm Oil Network (NASPON) launches in November


    • Launch of the RSPO Trademark App in June for consumers to be able to find, shop and upload RSPO certified products carrying the RSPO Trademark
    • Singapore launches the Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (SASPO) in June
    • Norway signs the Amsterdam Declaration, joining a number of other European countries in the pledge to promote the use of 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020
    • The first RSPO China Forum took place in July and gathered palm oil stakeholders to promote CSPO


    • RSPO is approved as a full member of ISEAL Alliance in May
    • The government of Central Kalimantan launches a ‘jurisdictional approach’ to certification for sustainable palm oil production in June
    • Launch of RSPO NEXT, a voluntary add-on criteria to the P&C 2013 in November
    • The Sabah State government launch a 10-year statewide jurisdictional program for all all crude palm oil produced in Sabah to be certified as sustainable by 2025
    • Revised New Planting Procedure (NPP) endorsed by RSPO Board of Governors (BoG)
    • Remediation and Compensation Procedure (RaCP) officially endorsed by BoG at RT13 in Kuala Lumpur
    • In December, the governments of Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom sign the Amsterdam Declaration to commit towards 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe by 2020
    • Palm oil concession maps of RSPO members become publicly available in December


    • RSPO CSPO for biofuels (RSPO-RED) marks milestone entry into Europe
    • As of June, more than 11.1 million tonnes of sustainable palm oil,accounting for 18% of global palm oil, was produced in nine countries
    • 1,902 registered members from 72 countries
    • RSPO certified area grew to over 3 million hectares, while production area grew to more than 2.6 million hectares


    • Revised P&C 2013 approved and adopted at an extraordinary GA in April
    • 784 delegates from 30 countries attend RT11
    • First certification body Accreditation Services International (ASI) is accredited to carry out RSPO certification
    • First RSPO certification seminar held in China
    • RSPO launches the first annual European summit to reach European stakeholders who are unable to attend the annual Roundtable events in Southeast Asia
    • The Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) is established, following the adoption of the human rights criterion in the revised P&C 2013
    • Dispute Settlement Facility (DSF) is developed for members involved in cases with land-related conflict or other disputes with each other


    • 6 million metric tonnes of RSPO CSPO in annual production capacity in May
    • Anniversary of Trademark launch in June: 60 Trademark licences in 13 countries issued
    • RSPO eTrace is launched in July to administer and monitor the physical trade of CSPO globally
    • RSPO becomes an associate member of the ISEAL Alliance in December (a global membership association for sustainability standards)


    • RSPO Trademark launches in June
    • First million hectares of CSPO production area and 5 million tonnes of global CSPO produced in August (10% total global palm oil production)
    • First RSPO certificate in Brazil (Agropalma)
    • The Compensation Task Force is formed under the Biodiversity and High Conservation Value Working Group (BHCV WG) to develop the Remediation and Compensation Procedure (RaCP) in August
    • Review of the P&C 2007 commences
    • Over 1000 people from more than 20 countries attend RT9 in November


    • DAABON Group (Colombia) receive the first RSPO certificate in Latin America
    • RSPO membership reaches 500 Ordinary Members by October
    • Launch of New Planting Procedure (NPP) at the General Assembly


    • RSPO SCCS reviewed and adopted in November
    • RSPO Complaints System established to provide a framework to address complaints against RSPO members or the RSPO system itself.


    • NIs of P&C for Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea approved
    • Approval of first P&C certification for United Plantations Bhd in August
    • RSPO Supply Chain Certification Systems (SCCS) finalised in August
    • First RSPO conference in Latin America in October in Cartagena, Colombia
    • First shipment of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) arrives in Rotterdam in November.


    • Review of P&C commences in October by RSPO Criteria Working Group (CWG), including public consultations, input from National Interpretations (NIs), smallholder taskforce deliberations and pilot field trial results
    • RSPO Certification System approved by RSPO Executive Board, adopted by General Assembly (GA4) and officially launched in November at RT5 by the Hon. Minister of Plantations Industries & Commodities, Malaysia, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui in Malaysia.


    • Creation and adoption of RSPO Members’ Code of Conduct
    • RSPO Indonesian Liaison Office (RILO) established in Jakarta


    • RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) for the production of sustainable palm oil adopted in November for initial pilot implementation period of two years by 14 companies.


    • RSPO formally established in April, under Article 60 of the Swiss Civil Code
    • By 31 August, 47 organisations sign the SOI declaring their intention to participate in the RSPO.


    • Inaugural meeting of the RSPO in Malaysia with 200 participants from 16 countries, with adoption of the Statement of Intent (SOI), a non-legally binding expression of support for the Roundtable process.


    • An informal co-operation among Aarhus United UK Ltd, Migros, Malaysian Palm Oil Association and Unilever, together with WWF is formed.


    • WWF explores the possibilities for a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)