There’s some more news from the series of successes in palm oil reform: Wilmar International, the biggest palm oil trader in the world, has set up a website that reveals its supply chain and allows anyone to report violations of its recent sustainability pledge. It is also working closely with The Forest Trust, a third party that monitors corporations and helps them deliver on sustainability promises.
The vast majority of the companies that trade in palm oil have now said that they will no longer buy from people cutting down forests or exploiting locals. But talk is cheap. Now we are seeing those commitments beginning to materialize.
There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, said Scott Poynton, founder of the Forest Trust, but this step matters.
“It shows that the company is serious, that it’s willing to put strong words into action. This is hugely encouraging and indeed a revolution,” Poynton said in a press release.
Right now the website that Wilmar set up is password protected, but when I asked about that, Poynton said that anyone who asks for a password will get one — it’s simply there to allow Wilmar to see who is using the site.
Because Wilmar is the biggest palm oil trader, and the first to make this kind of move on transparency, it sets an important precedent. And NGO leaders say Wilmar is setting the bar high.
“No one has ever aimed for this level of transparency in agriculture commodities. Wilmar has more than 800 palm oil suppliers, so the company covers the bulk of the industry,” said Glenn Hurowitz, chair of Forest Heroes, in a press release. “If the on-line tool released today does lead to real engagement between industry, local civil society, and all stakeholders, it will dramatically accelerate the transformation of the palm oil industry.”
Wilmar, when it originally agreed to stop buying from exploiters and forest cutters, was the first big domino to fall among palm oil traders. Within a year, almost all the others had followed suit. Now the dominos are lined up again for a strong implementation of these agreements — fingers crossed.