Subject: BACP Newsletter December 2013 - Biodiversity and Palm Oil after RSPO RT11

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BACP News - December 2013
Improving Biodiversity Outcomes in Palm Oil - 5 years of BACP
As phase 1 of the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program (BACP) closes at the end of 2013, this summary newsletter largely looks back at the accomplishments of our palm oil grantees and some of the key lessons learned from five years of working to transform the market for oil palm.

The change in the palm oil market over the past five years (BACP phase 1 began in 2007) is substantial. According to RSPO, the volume of certified sustainable palm oil has increased sevenfold, and its share of total global production has increased from less than 2% to more than 14%. BACP grantees have contributed to this transformation through projects that generate greater supply, demand and financing of biodiversity-friendly palm oil. RSPO as a BACP grantee itself, has worked to strengthen the capacity of its various technical committees, most notably the BHCV Working Group, improve the credibility and technical capacity of HCV assessors, and promote tools to monitor HCVA identification. BACP, therefore, has been able to impact biodiversity both from the NGO/member level and also from the RSPO's leadership with its members.
Additional BACP supported palm oil grantees include Proforest, World Resources Institute, the Zoological Society of London, PanEco, and Fauna and Flora International. We encourage readers to explore the organizations and projects summarized in this sector summary (and in more depth on our website), browsing the innovative tools and methods developed by BACP palm oil grantees over the past years, and their relevance and application to your own operations, to improve the sustainability of production and trade worldwide. 

BACP grantees worked to address a number of barriers to sustainable palm oil development identified at the Programs inception. These included:
  1. offering guidance for palm oil development with smallholder producers (see working with smallholders below);
  2. developing trainings and capacity-building efforts to enhance knowledge and awareness of HCVs and the RSPO standard (training and capacity-building);
  3. producing high quality HCVA data at scale (land planning and managing HCVs); and 
  4. supporting the development and promotion of credible, cost-effective M&E methods that are practical for RSPO stakeholders (impact assessment)
BACP at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil meeting in Medan
BACP palm oil grantees collaborated to display their accomplishments to relevant stakeholders at the 11th Annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) conference in Medan, Indonesia 11-14 November 2013. BACP hosted a booth in the exhibition hall during the meeting, alongside participation in the open space format. 

The activity in the booth generated opportunities to speak directly with industry representatives and other conservation researchers and advocates about how to use the tools and training manuals they developed with BACP support to improve biodiversity outcomes both at farm and landscape scales, achieve compliance with RSPO standards, and more effectively reach smallholder farmers.

World Resources Institute (WRI) navigated stakeholders through its web tools for identifying suitable degraded lands and forest cover change, the Forest Cover Analyzer & Suitability Mapper. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) also presented a web based tool, its HCV Threat Monitoring Protocol, which gives companies a low-cost standardized monitoring system for HCVs. Alongside these web based tools, grantees also presented the vast array of reports and training manuals that have been produced. Proforest presented a poster describing its RSPO Roadshow palm oil smallholder training activities in West Africa, and shared copies of its recent publication, “Smallholders and the RSPO: Meeting the RSPO certification requirements for the management and monitoring of biodiversity and High Conservation Values.” PanEco presented its Bahasa smallholder manual and other tools for responsible palm oil development in Indonesia, and presented related outputs at its own booth. ZSL presented multiple reports, including their “Practical Handbook for Conserving High Conservation Value Species and Habitats within oil palm landscapes.
While in Indonesia for the RSPO meeting in Medan, ZSL, along with a representative from the RSPO and the BACP Program team visited PT Musim Mas in Central Sumatra to share experiences on HCV assessment and monitoring. This was one of the first plantations in Indonesia to be certified through the RSPO, and is engaged in various farm level sustainability measures that go beyond the requirements of the standard, including methane capture.
Did You Know?
RSPO hosts a public "Useful Links and References" page for palm oil stakeholders
You can find most of the key tools and reports of BACP palm oil grantees, as well as many others, in this library.
From IDH news:
On November 22, PT Perkebunan Nusantara III Persero (PTPN III), a government owned palm oil company, signed a MoU with IDH, RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and Unilever. The signing parties agreed to develop a program to help independent smallholders in North Sumatra to increase their productivity & quality, access to finance and RSPO certification.
Wilmar has agreed to a "No Deforestation" policy. “We can produce palm oil in a way that protects forests, clean air and local communities, while contributing to development and prosperity in palm oil-growing regions,” said CEO Kuok Khoon Hong in a statement. “There is a strong and rapidly-growing demand for traceable, deforestation-free palm oil, and we intend to meet it as a core element of our growth strategy.”
Unilever will source 100% of its palm oil from 'traceable sources' by the end of 2014. The announcement came the day after the RSPO RT11 ended, and was coupled with agreements with suppliers to improve traceability and sustainability throughout their supply chains.
The Forest Peoples Programme, Sawit Watch, and TUK Indonesia released 'Conflict or Consent: The oil palm sector at a crossroads'
The collection of articles, edited by Marcus Colchester and Sophie Chao, is the seventh in a series of collections examining the social implications of oil palm expansion. Download the complete text here.
Solidaridad announces first group of smallholder farmers to achieve RTRS certification!
BACP supported Solidaridad's work with hundreds of designated "family farmers" in Brazil to improve practices over nearly five years. A group of 163 farmers, raising soy on more than 8000 ha, secured certification this year. The success shows that barriers to certification for soy smallholders can be overcome.
The International Finance Corporation has published a 'Diagnostic study on Indonesian oil palm smallholders'.
The BACP Final Program Report will be published on the web at ifc.org/bacp in early 2014.

Stay Tuned!
Working with smallholders

Proforest, developed a robust program designed to train High Conservation Value (HCV) Assessors, lead auditors and oil palm companies on meeting the requirements of the RSPO while working with smallholder producers. They focused their efforts particularly on emerging palm oil production areas in West Africa and Brazil. During the implementation period, Proforest and partners organized 12 training and capacity building events aimed at raising awareness and building capacity in key stakeholders in six countries (Ghana, Liberia, Gabon, Cote D’Ivoire, Cameroon and Brazil).These events, collectively referred to as the RSPO Roadshow, were attended by more than 470 persons, ranging from high-level government representatives to civil society partners to technical operators and staff from palm oil companies.
Working with the SHARP program, the Roadshow organized a multi-stakeholder workshop in Liberia on challenges oil palm smallholders face and opportunities for developing a model that mainstreams smallholder oil palm production whiles promoting sustainability and better productivity. During the implementation period, the Roadshow also developed a working paper on ‘Characterising the Oil Palm Smallholder in Africa’. The paper points out the unique challenges oil palm smallholders face, existing opportunities and key considerations that must be evaluated prior to any interventions that target smallholders.
Training and capacity-building

PanEco’s project included a pilot working with smallholder farmers to successfully cultivate palm oil on degraded land. They developed a highly valuable, user-friendly training manual (in Bahasa) that provides information to smallholders on how to develop palm-oil plantations in an environmentally and socially friendly manner, and why it is useful to do so. They then deployed this manual as part of a technical training course they developed together with other stakeholders, including RSPO. The training was both a technical course on how to manage palm oil plantations in a social-environmentally friendly manner, and a training course on the importance of practicing biodiversity-friendly and explained the long-term consequences of the business as usual practice in peat swamp forests of Tripa, Indonesia.

Proforest, through a collaborative workshop process in West Africa, determined that one of the most significant challenges that smallholder oil palm growers face is the identification of HCVs prior to land conversion as required by the RSPO certification requirements. Smallholders not only lack adequate understanding of the concept but also are unable to pay for the high cost of a detailed HCV assessment that meets the requirements of the RSPO. In order to help address this challenge, they developed a simple and easy to understand guidance document for HCV identification and management for smallholders. This simple guidance could be used effectively by smallholder farmers in identifying and managing HCVs in their concessions and oil palm plantations.

Land planning and managing HCVs

One of the key barriers to the uptake of certification has been the lack of high quality HCVA data at scale. At inception, a key BACP goal was to support multi-stakeholder activities leading to landscape-level assessment using the HCV concept. These activities ideally would result in a national or regional consensus on delineation of HCV areas into which no expansion of palm oil would occur.

WRI and PanEco successfully worked to map out and subsequently lobby national and regional governments to reclassify degraded lands, the former through the publication “How to Identify Degraded Land for Sustainable Palm Oil in Indonesia”, and the latter through rehabilitation of degraded land for the production of palm oil. These are both key interventions for the re-classification of degraded forests to allow planting of sustainable palm oil and to further the dialogue on the Indonesian moratorium on palm oil.
Web-based information platforms are one such example. ZSL established the Sustainable Palm Oil Platform (SPP), which is provides a place to disseminate scientific research, information and guidance to guide environmentally responsible practice within RSPO stakeholder groups. WRI’s Forest Cover Analyzer and Suitability Mapper are publicly available for use by relevant stakeholders. Both of these tools use geospatial data to delineate both degraded lands and HCV areas to enable more sustainable land planning.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has collaborated with RSPO to develop the HCV Threat Monitoring Protocol for the oil palm sector. The protocol was developed under the supervision and guidance of the RSPO Biodiversity and High Conservation Value Working Group (BHCV WG). Two sites were selected for field trials in Kalimantan and Sumatra. The results and lessons learned were incorporated into the guidance document. During the monitoring protocol development process, company staffs at both plantations were fully trained to enable them to successfully implement the monitoring system. The threat monitoring protocol was endorsed by the BHCV WG in March 2013. The HCV Threat Monitoring Protocol serves as a guidance document providing managers means to systematically monitor all identified HCV areas using standardized patrolling methods.

Fauna and Flora International (FFI) worked with local stakeholders in the palm oil industry and government to identify HCV forest along with degraded areas fit for palm oil cultivation in three critical districts in West Kalimantan. They then worked directly with district governments in Kalimantan to accept the HCV assessment that they conducted. This lobbying led to the inclusion of over 200,000 hectares of HCVA within the spatial planning of these districts. PanEco, meanwhile, lobbied local and provincial governments in order to promote the inclusion of a key HCV Forest area in provincial spatial plans in Aceh, Indonesia.
Impact Assessment
Members of RSPO's P&C Taskforce gather
With BACP support, the RSPO revised the Principles & Criteria (P&C) of the standard in 2013. The main objective of the process was to further improve the relevance and effectiveness of the P&C for its members to ensure that RSPO, along with its standard, remain up-to-date and progressive in order to achieve its mission. After 5 years of experience from implementation, the revised P&C strived to become more results oriented. In addition to participation on the Review Taskforce, a number of BACP grantees provided input via the public consultation process. The revised P&C include new requirements and guidance for cultivation on peat, greenhouse gas emissions, human rights, labor conditions, and other key factors.

In the general assembly of the RSPO, WRI and ZSL co-signed a successful resolution that will provide clear evidence, through provision of digital data showing verified boundaries of concessions, that RSPO members are not responsible for the controversial peat fires that caused reputational damage to the industry. Considering the high levels of scrutiny through media, NGOs, and the public, taking steps towards transparency and assessing impacts is key to lowering reputational risk in the sector.

The Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program (BACP) seeks to reduce the threats posed by agriculture to biodiversity of global significance by transforming markets for soy, palm oil and cocoa. BACP is a multi-donor initiative with contributions from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Japan, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Italy and New Zealand.
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