Large scale oil palm expansion in Africa is at an early stage, with many companies negotiating concessions agreements and planning investment in recently allocated land holdings. While oil palm development has the potential to deliver many socio-economic benefits, there are also significant environmental and social risks. Many negative impacts associated with long-established plantations are the consequence of poor planning during the establishment phase, which results in long term liabilities such as biodiversity loss and deforestation or creates conditions for social conflict.
The Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) provide standards for sustainable palm oil production including guidelines on responsible expansion. However, in Africa there is currently limited understanding about the RSPO guidelines and the related High Conservation Value (HCV) concept. The Africa Roadshow aims to contribute to an environment for increased adoption of the RSPO Principles and Criteria as well as the effective use of the HCV framework in the countries where most palm oil expansion is planned.
The programme aims to significantly increase the level of understanding of the RSPO requirements in general, and for expansion in particular, among key stakeholders, including government institutions, civil society and the local private sector. The capacity building and awareness raising events are designed to facilitate the uptake and integration of RSPO best practices in both large-scale and smallholder plantations in the region.
The first events in this series will take place in Monrovia, Liberia and Accra, Ghana in May 2012, with a third event planned in Libreville, Gabon in June. Training in a number of other countries is expected to take place later in the year and early in 2013.
The RSPO roadshow is being coordinated by The Proforest Initiative, working together with an alliance of partners including the RSPO, Conservation International, Solidaridad, WWF, the HCV Resource Network, ZSL, and GIZ. Funding has been provided by the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Programme, with additional support from Sime Darby, Olam International and Unilever.