The Netherlands committed to 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe

By 2020, 100% of the palm oil used in Europe must be sustainable. Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, supports this goal laid down by European Sustainable Palm Oil (ESPO), a new initiative from the European chain organisations for margarine, fats and oils. ‘The Netherlands is at the forefront of sustainable palm oil use: by the end of this year, we hope that all the palm oil we use will be sustainable. It’s time that other European countries also move towards making the sector more sustainable,’ said the minister.

Today, Ms Ploumen spoke with Darrel Webber, Secretary-General of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and Frans Claassen, Director of the chain organisation for Margarine, Fats and Oils (MVO). The minister’s ultimate goal is 100% sustainable palm oil worldwide. ‘Europe only accounts for 14% of all international palm oil imports. If we want 100% sustainability here, we need to start a worldwide race to the top,’ she remarked. The minister also wants to enter into partnerships with major palm oil consumers like China and India, with the aim of working together to improve environmental and social conditions in the palm oil sector.

Large quantities of palm oil are used in the food industry. Most of the palm oil used in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe comes from countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. There, palm oil production often goes hand in hand with problems like land grabbing and deforestation. RSPO is tackling these problems by training large numbers of farmers in more effective land use, helping them increase their productivity and helping businesses to make the transition to sustainable palm oil production.

In the Netherlands, nearly all businesses over the last five years have switched to sustainable palm oil. Elsewhere in Europe, things have been slower to change. ESPO intends to harmonise existing European sustainable palm oil initiatives and will encourage exchange of experience. Businesses will be encouraged to commit to fixed targets and palm oil flows in Europe will be mapped out. The Dutch chain organisation MVO will support ESPO and the ESPO secretariat will also be located in the Netherlands.