In December 2015, the Belgian Alliance for sustainable palm oil announced that the objective of 100% palm oil certified RSPO had been reached in Belgium. “Two years later, this news cannot be verified by the facts,” regretted Wednesday a coalition of NGOs, of which the CNCD 11.11.11., which has just published a report on voluntary initiatives taken by the palm oil sector in Belgium.
The Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (BASP) groups 9 agro-food companies, among which the giants Ferrero (Nutella), Unilever, Vandemoortele or Lotus Bakeries, as well as several food industry federations.
Confronted with the consumers’ fears, these members committed themselves in 2014 to only use, as of the following year, certified RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) palm oil for their products sold in Belgium.
Created by Unilever and the environmental association WWF, RSPO initiative groups are close to 3,000 members in 85 countries, and represent 19% of the worldwide palm oil production, according to their own figures.
But the criteria that they promote are not sufficient to avoid the deforestation (in Indonesia and Malaysia, origin of 85% of the production, certified plantations are located in zones which have been subject to deforestation during the last twenty years), or human rights abuse, as one may read in the report published by the seven NGOs (the domes CNCD-11.11.11 and its Dutch counterpart, FIAN Belgium, AEFJN, Oxfam, the Justice and Peace Commission, BNNR/RBRN).
Furthermore, sectors of agro-fuel, catering and large-scale distribution are not part of the BASP alliance. Considering that a Belgian consumes a yearly average of 40 kg of palm oil, Belgian and European authorities must put a restrictive regulation in place, plead the authors of the report.