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Indian Youth Voice for Sustainability at the Young India Challenge Reunion: “We want a future full of hope not dismay”

23rd November, New Delhi: Fifty young people from across the country from the Young India Challenge community  gathered in New Delhi for a bi-annual reunion to create an action roadmap to tackle the climate emergency. The event was co-organised by RSPO, My Mark My City Initiative, AIESEC and Youth for Earth and after a month long intense discussions and productive critical arguments, youth from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds joined hands to co-create their commitment towards a shared responsibility for deforestation and exploitation free products in India and for making sustainable palm oil the norm.

This gathering was a follow up to the ‘10th Young India Challenge’ organized by Human Circle on 12-13 Oct 2019 at IIT Delhi and a ‘Climate Action Roundtable’ organized for the My Mark My City Initiative by the Museum for United Nations -UN Live’ in association with Human Circle in Mumbai. The event saw the participation of  500 selected youth, mentors, speakers and partners from more than 75 cities. The theme of the event was ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus for the delegates was to find practical solutions for the ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 12 ans 13, namely, Responsible Consumption and Production and Climate Action.

The Indian Youth Delegation stated

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“We represent millions of young people in India. We are now a 1.3 billion people country. More than 50% of our population is below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years. For some this represents a demographic dividend and for others our overpopulation is putting immense pressure on the natural resources like air and water and worsening the climate crisis. We think this is a wake up call for all Indians and that it is time that we consider our ecological footprint not just in India but in other countries as well, which supply essential commodities to us like palm oil, pulp & paper, timber, soy, rubber and many others. We are aware that India is in a way IMPORTING DEFORESTATION through these products. For example, India is the largest consumer of palm oil, 50% of all the products we buy contain palm oil.

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We grew up in an era of extreme change. We have seen our homes once a place of warmth to be surrounded with smog, our air that gives us breath to be coloured in grey haze, our coastline where we have our livelihoods to be receding. In the Himalayan region, we see glaciers melting, temperatures rising above the imaginable and cyclones in Odisha destroying everything in its way. 15 states across India faced devastating floods in 2019.  We have no doubt that we are in the midst of a climate emergency. According to Greta Thunberg, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about your fairy tales of money and eternal economic growth.” Every drought and every flood is now more severe and more devastating. There is a need to ACT NOW!

The shift towards sustainable palm oil is a win-win situation for all. We believe that, not just us the youth, but all of us here today want to live in a future that is recognisable to us, one with abundant clean air to breathe, thriving forests and wildlife. There is no reason to accept anything less. This is the time for you, people of great power and influence within your circles lead this change. And we, the youth of India will be right behind you

Stop asking us to solve all your problems that you created. Solve them now. A better future is possible, and we will not settle for anything less.

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The Indian Youth Delegation will continue their work on #YouthForSustainability in their respective countries.

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Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India launched to drive India’s sustainable palm oil market

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New Delhi, India: As the largest consumer and importer of palm oil, globally, India has the potential to play a significant role in driving sustainable practices in the palm oil sector. In order to address this, Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India (India-SPOC) was recently launched as a collaborative effort between Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – India, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Rainforest Alliance (RA) at a global convention on sustainable trade and standards in New Delhi. 

In recent years, palm oil has become one of the most widely used vegetable oils in the food and FMCG industry, given its productivity and versatility in use. However, the factors that have made palm oil a success have also brought with it well-documented environmental and social challenges. Most prominent among these are links to deforestation, labour rights, and damaging effects on nature and the environment, particularly when grown unsustainably. India-SPOC will be working primarily with companies in India to facilitate collaboration within the industry and help improve sustainability performance across their palm oil supply chain. The coalition will work towards addressing barriers and challenges to sustainable palm oil by taking into consideration the unique characteristics of the palm oil sector in India, focusing on aspects including policy, best practices for production, trade linkages, and consumer sensitisation to sustainability.

The collaborative platform will consist of associations, civil society organisations, consumer goods manufacturers, food-service retailers, retailers, banks and financial institutions, and palm oil traders and producers committed to increasing the use of sustainable palm oil and its derivatives in the Indian market. India-SPOC has opened its request for stakeholder participation with CRB playing the role of the Secretariat for the coalition.

Centre for Responsible Business

“The formation of India-SPOC is a timely and positive development in India and for the Asian region. I believe India-SPOC, to a great extent, will address the concerns and doubts of scholars and critics who argue that the increase in South-South trade in food, feed and fibre, for which India is a leading actor for both imports and exports, may undermine sustainability issues. I am sure India-SPOC will develop appropriate strategies, plans and activities for proactive engagement with palm oil producers, processors, users and other stakeholders in the value chain to address and arrest the challenges of deforestation, biodiversity loss, human and labour rights in palm oil industry in India and the region. Many congratulations and my best wishes to the leaders at Rainforest Alliance, RSPO, WWF and CRB for initiating and leading this initiative.”

  • Dr. Bimal Arora, Honorary Chairperson, Centre for Responsible Business and Faculty at Aston Business School, United Kingdom

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – India

“As the world’s largest consumer of palm oil, India could play a pivotal role in promoting the sustainable production of palm oil. India-SPOC provides an opportunity for the Indian palm oil industry to positively influence the domestic demand for sustainable palm oil.”  

  • Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

“With approximately 98% of palm oil (crude, refined and processed) consumed in India, coming from imported sources, India-SPOC will bring a much needed dialogue of sustainable palm oil to India. On behalf of RSPO, I congratulate all of India-SPOC’s founding partners and we hope the coalition will play a key role in helping achieve the shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.” 

  • Darrel Webber, Chief Executive Officer

Rainforest Alliance

“The time is right for the Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition. Palm oil is in high demand and provides a livelihood to millions of farmers and workers in the tropics. The negative social and environmental impacts from its production in South east Asia have been well publicised. A commitment from companies in India, the world’s largest importer, to buy palm oil produced without those negative impacts will send a clear message through the supply chain and stimulate further progress in sustainable production practices.” 

  • Mr. Edward Millard, Director

 

About Centre for Responsible Business

The Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) is an independent centre of excellence, working with business and stakeholders to promote responsible business strategies, policies and practices. For more information please visit, http://www.c4rb.org/

About WWF

WWF-India is a leading conservation organisation with a global network active in more than 100 countries dedicated to building a world in which humans live in harmony with nature. For more information please visit, www.wwfindia.org

About RSPO

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. For more information, please visit RSPO’s global website www.rspo.org

About Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organisation working to build a future in which nature is protected and biodiversity flourishes, where farmers, workers, and communities prosper, and where sustainable land use and responsible business practices are the norm. For more information please visit, www.rainforest-alliance.org/

RSPO will be the ‘Sustainability Partner’ for the 10th Young India Challenge (YIC) which will be organized Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi on 12-13 October 2019. The theme for the event is ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus is on finding solutions for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13: Climate Action. You can apply for the 10th YIC here: https://youngindiachallenge.com/

 

For further information, kindly contact:info@humancircle.in

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India Commences National Interpretation of Principles & Criteria 2018 (Global Sustainability Standard for the Production of Palm Oil)

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Following a successful first meeting in Hyderabad in February, to develop the National Interpretation (NI) of the revised RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) 2018, the Indian NI Working Group (NIWG) held its second meeting earlier this month in Mumbai, from 14-15 May 2019. 

The NIWG reviewed the P&C 2018 and discussed its relevance for Indian plantations, mills, and smallholders. The RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard, currently in its third round of public consultations, was also discussed at length amongst the group. After the first meeting, the RSPO organised a field trip in Andhra Pradesh to increase the level of understanding for working group members and allow them to interact with local smallholders, visit local mills, and also to help them to better understand the challenges faced on the ground.  

India has a legislation that is similar to a ‘jurisdictional approach’ but due to legal restrictions, company-owned oil palm plantations in India is uncommon. However, with more than 50,000 oil palm smallholders grouped in different zones and bound to specific mills, the hope is that this could be an opportunity for smallholder farmers in India to produce palm oil sustainably. Aside from this, RSPO is expecting its first Indian smallholder group to be certified by mid 2020.

Over the course of these meetings, the group also discussed supply chain models, systems for certification, mills and Independent Smallholder Credits, among other key topics. Some important highlights from these two meetings were the agreement of the definition of ‘smallholders’ in India’s context, and the different scenarios for the applicability of the P&C 2018, ISH Standard, Group Certification, and Supply Chain Certification.

The India NI initiative has been supported by an in-depth baseline assessment study and gap analysis for Indian farmers, commissioned by the RSPO. Transgraph Consulting will be working with the NIWG to finalise the draft of the NI, which will go through a 30-day public consultation period from June to July. The NIWG will then gather for the third meeting in August to discuss the public comments and prepare the final draft to be submitted to the RSPO Secretariat for approval by the RSPO Board of Governors (BOG). 

New Members for India’s Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition

There has been strong support for the India Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition (I-SPOC) since it launched in September last year, with 15 organisations joining the coalition in just 8 months. The founding members held their first members’ meeting at the Hindustan Unilever (HUL) headquarters in India. To strengthen the governance of the coalition, HUL and AAK Kamani were asked to join the founding members as part of the I-SPOC Steering Committee. 

The coalition members have now been divided into three working groups namely; Policy Advocacy, Supply Chain Transformation and End-Users, to pursue activities that will accomplish I-SPOC‘s mission to promote sustainable consumption and trade of palm oil and its derivatives in India along the supply chain, through industry collaboration

The current members of I-SPOC include Climate Disclosure Project, Colgate-Palmolive, Ferrero, Galaxy Surfactants, Haldiram’s, Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Rabobank. Representatives from Reliance Retail, Dunkin Brands, General Mills, IKEA, Reckitt Benckiser, HSBC, Yes Bank and ISEAL Alliance joined the first meeting as ‘Observers’.

Palm oil is a priority raw material and in 2016, we brought forward our target for purchasing 100% physically certified palm oil from 2020 to 2019. As a ‘Steering Committee’ member of I-SPOC, we believe we’ll make greater progress towards transforming the industry in India through greater transparency,” said Jasbir Singh Nanda, Procurement Director – South Asia at Unilever.

Arindom Datta, Rabobank’s Executive Director added that “palm oil is an important ingredient for food and consumer goods, generating high economic value for global companies and for small family farms in Asia. Rabobank is involved in solutions, from the plantation to the supermarket shelf. As a food and agri bank, it is in our interest that the sectors in which we are strong are also healthy. India is a challenging market and therefore, it is good to see that several large organisations have joined I-SPOC already. We are fully committed to encouraging all stakeholders to transition to certified sustainable palm oil coming to India from Malaysia and Indonesia and also its domestic production in India once the ‘National Interpretation’ process is complete. For a significant long-term impact, at some stage, we will also need to bring in government representatives for policy level interventions.” 

RSPO will be the ‘Sustainability Partner’ for the 10th Young India Challenge (YIC) which will be organized Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi on 12-13 October 2019. The theme for the event is ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus is on finding solutions for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13: Climate Action. You can apply for the 10th YIC here: https://youngindiachallenge.com/

For further information, kindly contact:info@humancircle.in

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Moving Towards Deforestation-Free Supply Chains in India

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ISEAL Alliance, in partnership with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), WWF-India and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), co-organised a strategic dialogue and workshop last month, which brought together relevant stakeholders for an in-depth discussion on the challenges and opportunities of addressing deforestation along the supply chains in India.

Hosted at Hindustan Unilever’s Mumbai headquarters, the discussions centred around the palm oil, rubber, wood and pulp sectors, as well as other commodities linked to deforestation, and looked at the development of clear strategies that can be used when dealing with business stakeholders in the country. The output from the roundtable discussion will be analysed by the organisers and attendees. It will then be used to influence business policies that encourage sustainable sourcing across supply chains and minimise carbon footprint.

CEO of the Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), Rijit Sengupta, said There is a need for creating market demand for deforestation-free (sustainable) products by working with businesses (users) and consumers. Together with partners like RSPO, the Centre for Responsible Business has been strategising ways to achieve this in India,” he said.

Bhawna Yadav, Reckitt Benckiser’s Regional Social and Human Rights Manager for South Asia and ASEAN added, “Palm oil is an important commodity, but one that needs careful management to enable a sustainable future for the communities and ecosystems it touches. Businesses can collaborate to support this goal, building pragmatic effective systems that, together with governments, civil society and communities, can be implemented at scale.” 

The meeting saw encouraging participation from some of the largest brands and financial institutions operating in India. Most of the members of the ‘Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India’ (I-SPOC) joined the workshop along with other stakeholders, led by representatives from Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), CRB, Reckitt Benckiser, L’Oreal, HSBC, Rabobank, ITC, JK Paper and several others.

RSPO will be the ‘Sustainability Partner’ for the 10th Young India Challenge (YIC) which will be organized Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi on 12-13 October 2019. The theme for the event is ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus is on finding solutions for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13: Climate Action. You can apply for the 10th YIC here: https://youngindiachallenge.com/

 

For further information, kindly contact:info@humancircle.in