The International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference 2020 (IPOSC 2020) is MPOC’s biannual conference that highlights current and emerging sustainability challenges and opportunities in the Malaysian palm oil industry. This year, the 6th IPOSC 2020 was organised by MPOC on a virtual platform, comprising two modules, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Module 1 (Agricultural Commodities and Sustainability Certification) was recently held from 14-22 September 2020. Hosted on a virtual platform (www.iposc.org.my), the event featured 10 presentations from various sustainability experts who shared their views on efforts by global agricultural commodities and plantation companies towards achieving sustainability and carbon neutrality.
The week-long Module 1 attracted 590 online participants and 4,618 views on its website. Here are the key messages from the presentations:
- Datuk Dr. Kalyana Sundram urged all stakeholders to collectively engage in continuous and rational dialogue to achieve its goal of complete sustainability in the palm oil industry. However, a level playing field must also exist; other remaining oils and fats, and not palm oil alone must also be subjected to similar sustainability and certification requirements.
- Dr. Isabelle Tsakok, a renowned economist noted that Malaysia has the necessary political, institutional and financial infrastructure to leverage upon the palm oil industry, in order to transform into a resilient and high-income country. However, there is an urgent need to address the sustainability issues, which requires the government to lead the efforts.
- Mr. Frans Claasen, representing the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) acknowledged the importance of Malaysia’s palm oil sustainability certification scheme (MSPO) and reaffirmed its commitments in working together with Malaysia to support the use of sustainable palm oil in Europe.
- The sustainability certification bodies and plantation companies shared their experiences in increasing the demand for sustainable certified palm oil and integrating sustainability and carbon neutrality in palm oil’s supply chain.
IPOSC 2020 Module 1 concluded with a live online Q & A session via Zoom on 22 September 2020, which was attended by 191 participants online, and a further 2,500 views via MPOC’s Facebook page, where the event was also streamed live.
Moderated by MPOC, eight panelists were invited to discuss and further elaborate on the feedbacks and issues raised during the course of the event. The key themes that were deliberated included:
- Addressing the inaccurate perception that palm oil is the cause of deforestation, and how the industry can disconnect itself from the narrative
- Debating on the intricacies of multiple sustainability certifications versus a common certification standard for palm oil
The 2-hour online session concluded with the respective panelists summarising their organisations’ stand and policies on the themes discussed. The event ended with the announcement that the next IPOSC 2020 module (Module 2: Renewable Energy, Climate Change and Food Security) will take place from 12-20 October 2020 on the event website, www.iposc.org.my.
Note: For new participants who require access to the Module 1 presentations, please register at www.iposc.org.my. The online Q & A session on 22 September can also be viewed at MPOC’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MPOCHQ)
Prepared by: Michael Ng, Assistant Manager, Science and Environment Division