Does certifying oil palm help alleviate poverty?

Oil palm agriculture is promoted as a way to improve living standards in tropical countries, but has led to mixed outcomes for local communities. We evaluated impacts across Indonesia, and asked whether poverty had been improved via the leading sustainability certfication scheme.

As the World’s most commonly produced vegetable oil, palm oil has attracted its fair share of controversy. Oil palm can be a major source of employment and revenue, but negative impacts are also well-publicised. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has emerged as the leading sustainability certification system to tackle these issues, but its effectiveness remains uncertain. By tracking changes in well-being across >36,000 villages in Indonesia – the world’s largest palm oil producer – we provide valuable insights into what works well for communities neighbouring plantations, and what can be improved. Read more

For more information read the study:

Santika, T., Wilson, K. A., Law, E. A., St. John, F. A.V., Carlson, K. M., Gibbs, H., Ancrenaz, M., Meijaard, E. and M.J. Struebig (published online 2.11.2020). Impact of palm oil sustainability certification on village well-being and poverty in Indonesia. Nature Sustainability. doi:10.1038/s41893-020-00630-1