RSPO Conference – Day 1

By Tan Yi Han

It was amazing to hear Kynn and her team from Serene Music Academy and Live Me giving the premiere performance of “We Breathe What We Buy”, the theme song for the #XtheHaze campaign.

Although it was only a few minutes on stage, it was a massive effort behind the scenes for the performers to write, choreograph, practise and record the song. And all of it pro-bono. This is really a people’s movement to stop haze!

Serene Music Academy (SMA) is also reaching out to the China market and through their live chats, they’ve even shared about the haze and sustainable palm oil, so there’s potential that through SMA, the message can spread to China, one of the world’s biggest markets for palm oil.

We also met people from both private sector and NGOs. Michelle from Orangutan Land Trust (OLT) was sharing how they had a hard time protecting the orangutan habitat at Sebangau National Park from the recent fires. There are canals draining the peat in Sebangau National Park (probably dug before it was gazetted as National Park), which OLT is trying to block. Unfortunately, some local communities break up the dams. So OLT works closely with the local communities to educate them about the problems of peat drainage and provide alternative livelihoods eg. turning the dammed canals into fish ponds.

An Environmental and Social Risk Management Associate from Citigroup shared how banks which sign up to the Equator Principles have to subject themselves to 3rd party audits to ensure that their lending decisions adhere to the principles of responsible investment.

Finally, there was a lot of encouragement for us to keep pushing for more consumer demand for sustainable products. We were encouraged to recognise companies in the process of cleaning up their act. And finally a great suggestion: for every product we use that contains palm oil, we can email, tweet or facebook message to ask whether it contains palm oil, where it comes from (is it traceable) and whether it is certified sustainable palm oil!