The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has had a complaints or grievance mechanism for the past several years to allow for social and environmental issues and concerns with the RSPO system itself to be raised and resolved through an institutionalised procedure. This complaints mechanism has been adapted alongside the organisation’s Principles and Criteria, but it faces a growing number of critiques from communities, NGOs and companies alike and calls for widespread improvement. Since April 2014, Natural Justice has been undertaking a review of RSPO’s complaints system along with BC Initiative Sdn. Bhd. in light of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other relevant international law and policy, experiences from complaints mechanisms in other sectors, and civil society critiques, among other things. The first interim report was submitted in May 2014 and the research will continue until November.
As part of this review, Natural Justice and the RSPO Secretariat held a workshop from 18-19 August in Bandung, Indonesia, with a range of stakeholders. The purpose of the workshop was to seek their feedback on the first interim report and to further develop the recommendations therein, which are divided into four categories, namely: governance, management, procedural, and substantive issues. The recommendations will continue to be developed and refined in the run-up to the 12th Roundtable in November, where a penultimate version of the review will be presented.