Soppoa urges govt to recognise revised MSPO certification scheme

Image supplied by Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC).

KUCHING, Jan 18: Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) urges the government to recognise the revised version of the 2022 Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme as credible certification for all palm oil players.

Its chief executive officer Dr Felix Moh Mee Ho said while world demand for palm oil has been encouraging, it is often linked to negative environmental issues such as greenhouse emissions and massive forest clearing for oil palm cultivation.

“In recent years, palm oil has also been associated with labour exploitation including allegations of forced labour.

“This leads investors to demand a more vigorous internal assessment of palm oil companies in terms of environment, social and governance (ESG) (issues),” he said in a statement today.

Through a joint collaboration with the Malaysia Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC), Soppoa has organised a webinar briefing to expand its members’ understanding of ESG recently.

ESG is not a certification standard but rather criteria that are of interest to investors or their stakeholders that focuses on companies’ environmental practices as well as their treatment of employees and stakeholders.

ESG issues were extensively covered in all the five principles of the 2022 revised version of MSPO.

Principle 1 addresses additional concerns on protection of biodiversity, deforestation, peatland conservation and advocates new plantings to be stringent in order to curb risks of climate change. It also requires social impact assessments (SIAs), environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and high conservation value (HCV) assessments for new plantings and mill construction.

Principle 2 seeks to strengthen supply chain requirements through fair, legal, transparent, documented (or verbally agreed) pricing for products and other services. It also includes ethical conduct in business operations and transactions.

Principle 3 focuses on compliance with legal requirements and also pays attention to the context of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process and land mapping.

Principle 4 adds additional indicators to strengthen SIAs including establishing guidelines and rights as aspects to be assessed – labour practices including workers’ rights and wellbeing, forced labour, employment and working conditions, and protection of human rights defenders and whistleblowers.

Principle 5 extends the coverage to include formal recognition of HCV and requires industry players to identify and monitor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It also includes requirements to measure impact on diversity periodically and implementation of Integrated Pest Management by reducing the use of chemicals and promoting environmental beneficial biological agents where possible.

Soppoa chairman Eric Kwong Seng was delighted to note that the revised version of MSPO included the latest sustainability requirements and practices that strengthen the position of Malaysia’s commitment in elevating palm oil sustainability and consumer confidence.

“This is a timely move given the pressure from buyers towards the sustainability of palm oil. Therefore, governments and authorities should work seamlessly to promote and ensure recognition of MSPO as the credible certification scheme for all palm oil players across the supply chain,” he said. — DayakDaily