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BRUSSELS: The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme, introduced in 2013, is constantly evolving and improving, said Deputy Prime Minister and Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (pix).

For instance, major revisions were introduced last year with more stringent standards, including a deforestation cut-off date of Dec 31, 2019, which meets the European Union’s (EU) Deforestation Regulation cut-off date.

More revisions were made to the identification of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and monitoring plans for its reduction, the introduction of new guidance on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and the safeguarding of human rights defenders and whistleblowers.

“(Hence), we reiterate that Malaysian palm oil is sustainable. The MSPO already guarantees Malaysia’s commitment to sustainability, and continues to provide sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil to our European and global customers,” he said at the working luncheon and dialogue session with EU chief executive officers (CEOs) of palm oil industries and representatives.

Also present were Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, Sarawak’s Deputy Minister of Town Planning, Land Administration and Environment, Datuk Len Talif Salleh, and Ministry of Plantation and Commodities Secretary-General, Datuk Mad Zaidi Mohd Karli.

Fadillah said the Malaysian government is also fully committed to the key policies relating to sustainable palm oil.

These include halting planting in peatland areas and strengthening regulations on existing palm oil cultivation on peatland, banning the conversion of forest reserve areas for palm oil cultivation, and pledging to make oil palm plantation maps available for public access.

Besides these, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), Malaysia announced a net-zero GHG emission target earliest by 2050.

Malaysia had also committed to maintaining at least 50 per cent forest cover as pledged during the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

Currently, Malaysia’s forest cover is at 55.3 per cent.

Palm oil industry’s commitment to climate action

According to Global Canopy’s Forest 500 analysis, 72 per cent of palm oil companies have made a deforestation commitment, which is significantly higher as compared to other commodities such as pulp and paper (49 per cent), soy (40 per cent), beef (30 per cent) and leather (28 per cent).

“However, we need the full support of all parties throughout the palm oil supply chain in order to realise our shared goals of striking a sustainable balance between the environment and socio-economic needs, as well as upholding the highest standards of sustainability and responsible practices.

“Together, we can ensure that palm oil remains the commodity of choice in the promotion of sustainable production and consumption. We have definitely come a long way and we are committed to continuing this journey with all parties,” Fadillah said.

About 30 companies participated in the working luncheon and dialogue session, among which are PT Sinarmas TBk managing director Ferry Salman, Sime Darby’s Europe and Africa head Michael Barkhuysen, Europe Cargill sustainability lead Gifty Amedi, Wilmar sustainability lead for Europe Daphne Hameeteman, DIBIZ Pte Ltd co-founder and CEO U.R Unnithan. -Bernama