Increasing concern of WWF about ceaseless deforestation, caused by the development of palm oil plantations, has instigated the stakeholders in the palm oil trade and processing industry to organize themselves in the Round table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This organization was created in 2004 with the purpose to reach 100% sustainability in the palm oil sector. An essential criterion for certification is that new palm oil plantations may not replace primary forest or be developed in areas with important bio-diversity.
In 2014, according to RSPO, 18% of the world’s palm oil production was certified sustainable. This figure is contested by prominent environmental NGO’s. They claim that certification of plantations lacks transparency. Illegally created palm oil plantations of today can successfully apply for certification in course of time. Weak governance, corruption and sloppy land registry facilitate abuse. Whatever other reasons can be mentioned, it is absolutely clear now that the certification of palm oil had marginal effects, if any, on deforestation. The RSPO serves the interests of palm oil producers, processors, banks and traders. Exploring and developing alternatives for palm oil, is beyond (and even inconsistent with) its objectives. As a consequence the organisation has played a negligible role with regard to the protection of tropical forest areas.