Prospects and Challenges of Sustainable Palm Oil for China

The RSPO put up an interesting case study recently into the prospects and challenges of sustainable palm oil for China. Although we’ve been quiet here on the ‘What is Palm Oil’ blog for the past couple of months, we’re back to discuss this interesting topic.

The Chinese Government actually has a strategy in place to develop a ‘Harmonious Society’ by 2020 – this will be focused on human progress, social civilization and sustainable development. As China are one of the world’s top importers of palm oil they could potentially be very influential when it comes to sustainable development.

The RSPO have outlined principles and criteria for sustainability into a certification system. This certification system is then being rolled-out throughout the world. Europe has currently shown the largest uptake and interest from both producers and from the demand side interestingly enough.

Palm oil is not only the most widely traded vegetable oil in the world, but has also recently become the first greatest import variety of vegetable oil for China. In the past 2 years China’s average volume of palm oil imported has hit over 6 million tons! This large increase in imports means that China will have a significant influence over palm oil producers.

RSPO’s study goes into multiple different policy options for the promotion of sustainable palm oil in China. However we feel the most important one is the establishment of a national policy objective for sustainable palm oil. This would be a national policy set by the Chinese Government stating that China should only import and use any palm oil which has been produced in a sustainable manner. These sustainable palm oil production methods will obviously have to meet the internationally recognised standards mentioned above. This policy would put huge pressure on the producers to only produce the palm oil sustainably, therefore increasing the amount of sustainably produced palm oil worldwide.

What kind of policy changes do you think China should adopt to promote sustainable palm oil? Do you think 2020 is a reasonable goal for hitting their targets? If you’d like to read the full study you can grab the PDF from the RSPO site here.


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