For years, companies operating in the global palm oil value chain have adopted time-bound commitments to ensure that the palm oil that they purchase, and in some cases the companies from which they purchase palm oil, are not associated with deforestation of forests and peatlands, or human rights violations (commitments known as NDPE - No Deforestation/Peat/Exploitation). Yet, stakeholders set different expectations on how to implement these commitments and offered inconsistent guidelines on how to disclose and report their progress. These differences resulted in confusion, frustration, and market inefficiencies and redundancies. In the fall of 2015, Ceres (a non-profit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive sustainability solutions) and the Packard Foundation enlisted CBI to help design and facilitate a dialogue to develop shared expectations to collectively influence palm oil purchasing behaviors and reporting.
CBI worked with Ceres to bring together a coalition of organizations and investors, working to advocate for and support implementation of corporate non-deforestation palm oil commitments, to align on a shared set of expectations. The goal was to encourage greater supply chain transparency through a common set of corporate reporting guidance indicators and disclosure requirements, which would facilitate comparability in reporting. This process would also provide a rationale for key sustainability information.
Drawing on business input and an eight-month inclusive consultation with palm oil NGO experts, the resulting guidance indicators:
This reporting guidance was not intended to replace other platforms and reporting mechanisms. Rather, companies are now expected to report relevant information through the vehicle of their choice, and use this guidance to inform their reporting, regardless of where they are in their sustainability journey.
In November 2016, 18 organizations signed off as contributors to the final document, a set of guidance and specific requests for corporate reporting on company commitments related to responsible palm oil sourcing and production. This unique alignment-building effort led to significant levels of constructive feedback, uptake, and broad recommendation. It illustrates the power of effective consultation and development of shared value in the palm oil market.