A number of key stakeholders from across the Indonesian Palm Oil Community have written to the European Commission urging the European Union “not to follow Greenpeace’s destructive approach” on sustainability certification for palm oil.

The letter was signed by – Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI), Indonesian Palm Oil Board (DMSI), National Action Plan of Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (NAP SPO) and Indonesian Smallholder Oil Palm Association (APKASINDO) – and sent to EU Commission Vice President for the EU Green Deal Frans Timmermans, and Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius.

They write that Greenpeace’s conclusion on Certification does not serve the interests of the EU and palm oil producing countries. Certification provides certainty for producers; reassurance for consumers; data and information for governments; and transparency for mediaThe approach advocated by Greenpeace – to tear down existing structures, rather than helping to build on them – does not fit with a collaborative approach to environmental policymaking.”

The organizations urge the Commission that despite the claims by Greenpeace, ISPO should be included and recognised without prejudice across Europe… Mutual recognition of certification schemes is the best solution… Strong cooperation between countries is the only way to deliver global solutions for a sustainable future for all.”

Read the full letter here.

Here’s the basic factual errors Greenpeace gets wrong on ISPO:

  1. The report states that ISPO certifying bodies are accredited by the ISPO Commission. This is not correct. Accreditation is performed by KAN, Komite Akreditasi Nasional, which is Indonesia’s national accreditation body. KAN is a member of the International Accreditation Forum, which is the global body for government accreditation bodies. IAF members do not just accredit certifiers and auditors for sustainability; they also accredit certifiers for safety systems for cars and planes, healthcare systems, food safety and other accreditations that materially affect people’s lives on a daily basis.
  2. The report states that “ISPO standards have been widely assessed as being weak.” The critiques referred to were published prior to the publication of the revised ISPO standards that were completed in 2020; these critiques are not addressing the most recent versions of the standard.
  3. The report states that “Indonesian government has recently proposed legislation that will weaken environmental impact assessment (EIA) requirements, a core component of ISPO standards.” This statement is incorrect for two reasons; the legislation was passed in November 2020; and, the legislation streamlines EIA requirements only for projects that have no environmental impact. Projects that have an impact must still fulfil AMDAL requirements.
  4. The report states that “the revised ISPO standard has reportedly largely ignored civil society organisation and public consultation input.” This is not true. The consultation for ISPO’s revision between 2017 and 2018 has been wide-ranging and extensive, consulting civil society organisations across Indonesia, particularly farmer groups. This consultation has been extensively documented by FOKSBI, Indonesia’s national multi-stakeholder forum for palm oil.
  5. The report claims that “ISPO has no transparency requirements for assessments, certified areas, disputes and complaints or audit results.” This is not true; the scheme has a number of transparency requirements in its principles and criteria, and procedures in place for dispute resolution.
  6. The report states that “ISPO CBs are accredited directly by the ISPO Commission rather than having an independent body to do this. There are reportedly no independent monitors to assess the credibility and accountability of the ISPO scheme.” This is not true. As noted above, accreditation takes place via KAN. KAN appoints independent auditors only as part of its procedural requirements.
  7. The report argues that ISPO is inferior because it is not ISEAL Code Compliant. ISEAL was established by its members in order to give credence to its sustainability systems that do not meet the more rigorous standard-setting processes of the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and use accreditation under the IAF system (see above). ISEAL on its own is not a guarantee of anything other than that it has been endorsed by ISEAL members.
  8. The report criticises ISPO for its standards for not being freely available publicly. This is not unusual for ‘real’ standards that are published by national standards organsiations, and international organisations such as ISO. ISO charges for most of its published standards.