Investors, Major Brands Call for Stronger Standards from Palm Oil Certification Group
Contact: Lucia von Reusner, Green Century Capital Management, 617-482-0800, firstname.lastname@example.org
Group urges RSPO to strengthen protections for forests, human rights
BOSTON: Institutional investors representing nearly $5 trillion in assets under management have joined with some of the world’s largest and most recognizable consumer brands, including The Kellogg Company* and ConAgra Foods,* to call on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to strengthen its standards for certifying the sustainable production of palm oil – a key ingredient found in an estimated 50 percent of all packaged goods, whose production has become a leading driver of deforestation.
In a letter organized by Green Century Capital Management together with the New York State Common Retirement Fund, and submitted today to RSPO just before its European Roundtable and Board meeting in Amsterdam, investors and companies are calling on the RSPO to prohibit controversial and unsustainable practices including deforestation and peatland clearance for certified palm oil production.
“Companies and investors increasingly recognize that widespread forest clearance degrades the environment and drives conflicts with local communities in ways that pose real risks to shareholder value,” said Lucia von Reusner of Green Century Capital Management, the environmentally responsible mutual fund company that has worked directly with companies including The Kellogg Company, ConAgra, Archer Daniels Midland* and the J.M. Smucker Company* to develop their no-deforestation policies for sourcing palm oil. “We are calling on RSPO to provide the assurance that strong protections are being upheld throughout palm oil supply chains, and to maintain its credibility in the marketplace by strengthening its standards to align with best practices that many of its member companies have already adopted.”
The RSPO, the multi-stakeholder sustainability certification body for the palm oil industry, is tasked with providing assurance that palm oil has been produced sustainably, but has faced mounting pressure in recent years to strengthen its standards and enforcement for certification. The standards currently do not include protections for peatlands or High Carbon Stock forests, and have an inconsistent record of enforcement. Following a recent wave of corporate commitments to source palm oil according to sustainability standards that go beyond RSPO standards, investors and companies have joined together in this letter with the aim of ensuring that RSPO becomes a more effective tool for verifying and enforcing the sustainable production of palm oil.
In the letter, investors and companies said, “As an international certification scheme, the RSPO is uniquely positioned to support, promote, and enforce the widespread uptake of responsible and sustainable production practices across the palm oil industry. Given current gaps in RSPO certification, however, purchasing RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) does not sufficiently address critical sustainability concerns in the palm oil supply chain.”
The $44 billion per year palm oil industry has become a leading driver of deforestation, which causes 15-20 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. GHG emissions are a leading cause of climate change, which scientists agree must be limited in order to prevent irreversible and potentially catastrophic impacts on the planet and the global economy. Deforestation also contributes significantly to species extinction, soil erosion, and conflicts with local communities over land rights.
Company signatories to the letter include Mars,* Carrefour,* Dunkin Brands,* Albertsons-Safeway,* Coop Switzerland,* Seventh Generation,* The Kellogg Company, General Mills,* ConAgra Foods, Starbucks,* Walmart Stores,* and five of the top 10 corporate purchasers of palm oil: The Procter & Gamble Company,* PepsiCo,* Colgate-Palmolive,* Kao Corporation (Japan),* and The Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies.*
Green Century Capital Management is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds and offers two environmentally and socially responsible funds, the Green Century Equity Fund and the Green Century Balanced Fund. Green Century works to curb climate change through fossil fuel free investing, reinvestment in sustainable companies, and advocating with companies to improve their environmental policies and supply chains. Green Century also is the only U.S. mutual fund company owned by environmental non-profits, the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs).
*As of March 31, 2015, Kellogg Company comprised 0.00% and 0.24%, The JM Smucker Company comprised 0.49% and 0.16%, General Mills, Inc. comprised 0.01% and 0.46%, Starbucks Corporation comprised 0.02% and 0.95%, The Proctor & Gamble Company comprised 0.00% and 2.96% PepsiCo, Inc. comprised 0.00% and 1.91%, and Colgate-Palmolive Company comprised 0.00% and 0.85% of the Green Century Balanced Fund and the Green Century Equity Fund, respectively. Other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of the Green Century Funds as of March 31, 2015. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
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This information has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable. The views expressed are as of the date of this writing and are those of the Advisor to the Green Century Funds.
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