KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Palm Oil NGO Coalition (MPONGOC) has called on government-linked companies and banks to show their commitment towards developing a sustainable palm oil industry.
The coalition said in a statement that all Malaysian banks and government-mandated institutions that invest in growth sectors must play a role in improving social and environmental standards in the palm oil industry.
According to MPONGOC, oil palm plantations represent the second largest land-use in the country after forests and the palm oil sector as a whole should pay equal attention to the people, planet and profit.
The coalition named Malayan Banking Bhd, CIMB Bank, Public Bank and RHB Bank as some of the banks that together represent well over half of Malaysia’s banking sector by asset size and market capitalisation and further noted the investments by Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Lembaga Tabung Haji in the palm oil sector.
“A commitment by these large banks and other institutions such as the EPF can go a long way to hastening and cementing genuine sustainability in the country’s palm oil industry,” it said yesterday.
MPONGOC said it is heartened by the commitment made in December last year by Wilmar, a major palm oil grower and trader, to “no deforestation, no development on peat and no exploitation of people and communities”, with a refusal to buy palm oil from suppliers who do not adhere to these standards after December 2015.
“If other growers and traders adopt the same policy, both the commitment and the image of the entire industry in Malaysia to treat people, planet and profit equally would be greatly strengthened.
“This should serve to promote global market access for Malaysian palm oil products. One way to push this forward is for Malaysian banks and institutions to adopt the Wilmar standards when assessing new proposals from oil palm growers and when deciding to invest in the sector.”
MPONGOC said it supports the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), where the three pillars of sustainability are embedded in its principles and criteria.
The coalition believed that there was a good business case for Malaysia to whole-heartedly endorse and aspire to RSPO standards, adding that there was growing demand from customers for sustainable certified palm oil.
“MPONGOC’s view is that buyers of palm oil and products containing palm oil globally will demand evidence of high social and environmental standards.
“This view is not just acceding to extreme Western demands, but realisation that the boundaries between Western and Asian markets will become less sharp, and that people globally will want to see more equal emphasis given to social, environmental and economic elements of all commodity production,” it said.
Source : New Straits Times