The following is a letter and Press Release received by a supporter from Unilever. It is encouraging, but make no mistake, it would not be happening if it was not for 'consumer power' - your voice, emails, etc can and do make a difference. So, a big THANK YOU to all who have written, sent postcards, etc
14 May, 2008
You have contacted Unilever in the past in relation to your concerns over the destruction of high conservation value rainforests in South East Asia, and in particular, the impact palm oil plantation expansion has had on the fragile ecosystem.
At that time, either I or one of my colleagues would have explained to you the role of Unilever in establishing the RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) and the role of the RSPO in driving towards certifiable sustainable Palm Oil. After 3 years of establishing and then testing principles and criteria to certify sustainable palm oil, the RSPO announced in November last year that principles and criteria had been agreed.
Consequently, we expect that certified sustainable palm oil will begin to become available later this year. I am writing to you at this time to not only inform you of the developments in relation to sustainable palm oil, but also to alert you to the announcement recently by Unilever whereby we have committed to purchasing certifiable sustainable palm oil from 2008 onwards. As supplies are limited of certifiable sustainable palm oil, we intend that by 2015 100% of our palm oil requirements will be from sustainable sources. We have also committed to working with appropriate bodies to support the immediate moratorium on further deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil.
I have attached a copy of the Unilever Press Release which further details this initiative.
The issues surrounding preservation of high conservation rainforests in S.E. Asia are many and complex, and unfortunately, there is no easy, quick acting solution. However, we believe that as Unilever is a significant user of the world’s palm oil, we have the opportunity to influence the behaviour of not only palm oil suppliers, but also of palm oil users, encouraging them to follow our lead of shifting palm oil requirements to certifiable sustainable sources, and in doing so, protecting the natural ecosystems in and around the high conservation value tropical rain forests of S.E. Asia.
Corporate Relations and Communications Director
PRESS RELEASE BY UNILEVER
UNILEVER COMMITS TO CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL
Rotterdam, 1 May 2008.- Unilever today announced its intention to have all of its palm oil certified sustainable by 2015. It will start by using certified palm oil as it becomes available in the second half of 2008 and will look to have all the palm oil it uses in Europe fully traceable by 2012.
This initiative builds on Unilever’s strong track-record in developing sustainability over more than a decade – from helping to establish the Marine Stewardship Council to develop sustainable fish practices and
(establishing a sustainable agriculture policy to in 1995 launching certifiably sustainable tea earlier this year.
In setting this ambitious goal Unilever recognises that it will have to continue to work in partnership with governments, suppliers, NGOs and other users of palm oil.
Announcing the initiative at the Prince of Wales May Day Climate Change Summit in London, Unilever CEO Patrick Cescau said: “Palm oil is an important raw material for us and the whole consumer goods
We use a substantial amount of palm oil and we want to be an agent for positive change, as we have been in fish, tea and other areas.
“We started work on sustainable palm oil ten years ago by developing and sharing our own guidelines and good practices with growers and suppliers, leading to the setting up of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in 2004.
Through the RSPO, we have continued to work hard to build an industry consensus on criteria for sustainable palm cultivation.” “Now we need to take the next step. Suppliers need to move to meet the criteria, by getting certified both the palm oil from their own plantations and the palm oil they buy from elsewhere. We also intend to support the call for an immediate moratorium on any further deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil. We are
committed to doing this because we believe it is the right thing to do for the people who use our products, for the environment and communities in and around which palm oil is grown and for our business and our brands.”
Unilever will continue to play a leadership role on the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and drive it as a vehicle for change, ensuring that it applies effective sanctions on suppliers who persist in
unlawful deforestation practices.
Rod Taylor, Director at WWF International added: "WWF applauds Unilever's pledge of support for efforts to halt deforestation in Indonesia and to create a palm oil supply drawn entirely from certified sustainable
sources. WWF wishes Unilever every success in turning its commitment into reality, and hopes that Unilever's actions will inspire others to follow".
Unilever will also regularly report its progress against these commitments and continue to liaise with all stakeholders.
Speaking on behalf of Unilever’s Sustainable Development Panel, Jonathon Porritt said: "We are delighted to see these new commitments on palm oil from Unilever. We've been advising the company on these issues over the last two years and have been particularly impressed at the way in which Unilever alerted the world to the consequences of today's unsustainable rush into biofuels.”
"These are ambitious targets, and Unilever's readiness to take a leadership role in establishing secure, certified supply chains for palm oil is particularly significant. Some of the basics have been developed through the RSPO but things now need to move much faster if further damage to the world's rainforests and other ecosystems is to be avoided."
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May 1, 2008
Unilever’s mission is to add vitality to life. We meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life.
Unilever is also one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with strong local roots in more
than 100 countries across the globe. Its portfolio includes some of the world’s best known and most loved brands including twelve €1 billion brands and global leadership in many categories in which the company operates. The portfolio features brand icons such as Flora/Becel, Dove, Ben & Jerry’s and the ‘Dirt is Good’ laundry brands (Persil /OMO / Ala / Skip / All).
Unilever has around 174,000 employees in approaching 100 countries and generated annual sales of €40 billion in 2007. For more information about Unilever and its brands, visit http://www.unilever.com/.
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About Unilever’s Sustainable Development Panel:
We have a group of internationally respected external advisors who meet regularly as a group and individually with senior management and scientists. They form a panel of independent – and independently minded – experts who advise us on the challenges of sustainable development.
· Daniel Esty – Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University
· Ma Jun – Journalist and environmental advocate with the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs in Beijing
· Malini Mehra – Founder & CEO of the Centre for Social Markets
· Jonathon Porritt – Co-founder & Programme Director of Forum for the Future and Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission
· Tiahoga Ruge – Director of the Center of Education and Training for Sustainable Development (Cecadesu) for the Government of Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
For more information, please visit: http://www.unilever.com/ourvalues/environment-society/sus-devreport/