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The Consumer Goods Forum and new sustainable palm oil sourcing guidelines – Q&A with Ignacio Gavilan

Last week the Consumer Goods Forum published some new palm oil sustainability guidelines.

I sent their director of sustainability, Ignacio Gavilan, a few questions about them. Here’s his responses below:

Tobias Webb: What do the new guidelines say? What’s new in them?

Ignacio Gavilan: “This is the first time our industry has published a set of sustainable palm oil sourcing guidelines, and they are intended to assist companies in the development of their own policies for effectively sourcing palm oil.

The Guidelines address deforestation and other key sustainability issues associated with the production of palm oil, offering a stepwise approach for the implementation of commitments to sourcing deforestation-free and sustainable palm oil.


Gavilan: CGF has true global scale

However, realising that palm oil landscape is changing rapidly, the Guidelines should be considered ‘a living document’ and they will be updated from time-to-time to reflect key palm oil developments.”

TW: How did you involve stakeholders in the process?

IG: “The Guidelines are the result of a truly collaborative process. Not only have our retailer and manufacturer members worked closely with each other as part of our palm oil-specific working group, we’ve also invited other stakeholders – like palm oil producers, processors, banks and NGOs – to comment on what works and what doesn’t.
Draft versions of the Guidelines were also shared for comment prior to the official publication.”

TW: What are your hopes for outcomes from these new guidelines?

IG: “The overriding goal is to help ensure our members can meet our resolution to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020 through the sourcing of sustainable commodities. The Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Guidelines, following on from those on the sourcing of sustainable soy and paper & pulp, are a tool to help us get there. We want to encourage our members – and other key stakeholders along the supply chain – to work together to implement the Guidelines.

If we can get our members to implement these guidelines, we’ll be one step closer to meeting our deforestation resolution.”

TW: NGOs say 2020 is too far away for deforestation free supply chains. What’s your response?

IG: “As the only organisation bringing retailers and manufacturers together on a global scale, we need to provide resolutions and solutions that are actionable and tangible for all our members.

There are those companies who may well meet the commitment before 2020 and we will support and encourage those companies as best as we can, but there are others – who are in a different development stage – who need a little longer and a bit more support to get there.

These guidelines are an important tool for such members that need more help to start the sustainable procurement journey while keeping those at the forefront leading on this subject.

We want to take a holistic approach and bring the entire industry with us on this journey to more sustainable value chains and business practices globally.”

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TW: What else is on the agenda for CGF in terms of sustainability in 2015 and in the build up to COP 21?

IG: “2015 is indeed a busy year. Related to the Guidelines, we’ll be organising webinars and workshops to help members in different geographies to implement and we’ll continue to work closely with the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, Banking Environment Initiative and other key stakeholders.

Then, following our recent announcement of a new Board-approved resolution to halve food waste from within the operations of our members by 2025, we’re working on a number of things to help support our members with this, including a number of public webinars and an implementation toolkit, as well as plans for a food waste event in early 2016. We are also working hard on refrigeration, and are currently discussing where we go next in our bid to phase out HFC refrigerants.

We’ve also been working with the UN Global Compact with regards to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are very much looking forward to COP 21.

With our Board’s pro-active and public call for a globally-binding climate change deal, we have big hopes for the week’s events and the CGF will very much be a part of them.

Lastly, we are working with other strategic pillars of the CGF – including Health & Wellness, End-to-End Value Chain, the Global Food Safety Initiative and the Global Social Compliance Programme to better see how our work on areas like traceability, transparency and the social impact of business can better drive positive change across the industry.”


Upcoming relevant business meetings by Innovation Forum: (We bring many of the major business players together with leading NGOs for tough, constructive discussion and debate, not dull PPT, take a look below)

How business can tackle deforestation – A make or break issue for Asia’s corporate reputation
28th-29th September 2015, Singapore – For full agenda and speaker list go here.

Ethical Trade and Human Rights Forum (with the Ethical Trading Initiative)
Transforming supply chains for responsible business at scale
October 19-20, London – For full agenda go here.

How business can tackle deforestation
Innovation in sustainable forestry: Technology, risk and collaboration
November 2-3 London – For more information go here.

Sustainability: Why current consumer engagement fails – and how to fix it
November 9th-10th 2015, London – For more information go here.

Sustainable seafood sourcing
How business can manage global risk and collaborate for sustainable improvements
November 25-26 2015, London – For more information go here.

How to engage with – and improve the lives of – smallholder famers
March 2016, London – For draft agenda contact