Dutch fund firms secure palm oil commitments

ACTIAM, NN Investment Partners and Robeco have lobbied for an end to deforestation and worker exploitation

Three Dutch fund managers engaging with East Asian palm oil producers have secured a breakthrough commitment to end deforestation and development on peatland.

The agreement, negotiated between several fund firms – ACTIAM, NN Investment Partners and Robeco – at the end of 2018, was the result of engagement to get palm oil producers to adhere to the standards, as set by the EIA’s Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

In a joint statement, the three asset managers said that extensive engagement between the three companies and palm oil plantation owners has led to commitments to cease deforestation, peatland development and the exploitation of workers. The agreement was secured in November 2018, they said.

“As investors, we believe the principles and criteria are an important step forward in the pursuit of a sustainable palm oil industry,” the companies said in a press release sent to journalists on Friday.

“One of the issues we recognise, among others, is that there is room for improvement when it comes to transparency and commitment of RSPO companies that still source palm oil from non-RSPO members.”

Robeco’s involvement in the engagement efforts come amid sustained work in the sector, which resulted in the publication of a position paper at the beginning of March, in which it pledged to exclude firms in its portfolios who did not adhere to the RSPO commitments.

“Palm oil has a future as an effective oil crop with the highest yield per hectare compared to other edible oils, provided it is produced sustainably,” the fund groups said.

“We will therefore intensify and closely monitor our engagements with palm oil companies as well as the RSPO, with clear objectives to further increase the level of sustainability in the palm oil industry.”