A Comparison of Leading Palm Oil Certification Standards

Cover of Palm Oil Comparative study
Cover of Palm Oil Comparative study

A Comparison of Leading Palm Oil Certification Standards

This study compares the world’s principal oil palm sustainability standards (RSPO, ISCC, ISPO, MSPO, SAN, HCS and RSB) by measuring them against a comprehensive set of over 39 social and human rights indicators within six different themes.

The desk-based study used the same yardstick to assess the various schemes against a range of criteria including:

  • fair land acquisition, respect for customary rights and Free, Prior and Informed Consent
  • treatment of smallholders
  • social and environmental safeguards
  • core labour standards
  • gender and discrimination
  • quality assurance
  • access to remedy

After scoring and ranking the various schemes, the study concluded that the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has the strongest set of requirements, followed by, in declining order of ranking, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC), and Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO). The Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard came out worst in the ranking and provides very little protection of human rights and community livelihoods.

As an addendum, the study also compared the standards of the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) and RSPO Next, both of which have added social and environmental provisions on top of the RSPO generic standard but lack additional challenge and remedy procedures. The POIG standard includes additional human rights and workers’ rights provisions.

Click on the links below to download the Executive Summary and Full report.