palm oil plants on the back of a truck

Earlier this month, Verité proudly supported the launch of a new resource to promote free and fair labor in palm oil production—“Free and Fair Labor in Palm Oil Production: Principles and Implementation Guidance.” This resource, endorsed by more than 20 organizations from around the world, represents a major step forward in protecting the rights of workers in the industry and advancing global dialogue on sustainable palm oil.

In recent years, media and civil society groups, including Verité, have highlighted significant human and labor rights abuses in palm oil supply chains. These include child labor, risks of forced labor and human trafficking, and restrictions on the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively. These issues—alongside urgent environmental matters such as deforestation and the destruction of carbon-rich peat lands—are now part of a number of new corporate commitments that emphasize strict “no exploitation” policies. Some are also addressed in the multi-stakeholder standard of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). These are welcome developments.

This new resource is designed to reinforce such initiatives. Building on the RSPO standard, the guide sets out civil society expectations for the human and labor rights dimension of sustainable palm oil. It provides comprehensive normative guidance based on ILO standards and establishes a robust framework for implementation, using the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It does not set out a new assessment or certification system, but instead offers guidance to help companies and other actors strengthen and improve existing engagement. While the guide is designed specifically for business, it is valuable for any stakeholder interested in promoting better human and labor rights protections for workers across palm oil supply chains.

For more information, contact Philip Hunter.

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