16 April 2019 | 3 min. readingtime
a.s.r. vermogensbeheer recently signed the Investor Statement for sustainable palm oil. An important signal, given by us together with 54 other investors and portfolio management companies worldwide, to once again make clear to the palm oil industry what our expectations are of their efforts to make that entire supply chain more sustainable, in every respect.
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil worldwide. It also has various advantages compared with other vegetable oils. For example, it has many uses, yields are high and costs are low. Nevertheless, this sector has a bad reputation. Today’s production policies, for example, lead to deforestation, which increases greenhouse gas emissions and reduces biodiversity. Matters such as child labour, health and safety issues and the conflicts surrounding the land rights of local communities also put this sector in a bad light.
The current situation in the palm oil industry is therefore not sustainable and compliant with our investment vision on all fronts. On the other hand, demand for palm oil is still growing and this sector contributes to the development of the countries where it is produced. If this sector can become more sustainable, that will have an impact on many fronts. An important reason, therefore, to use our influence and make our voice heard as a portfolio management company. If we can now convince this sector to commit to pursuing a sustainable policy, there will be much to gain in the long run, for everyone.
This is why we also signed the statement declaring that we support the RSPO, the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil. We also emphasise in that statement what the minimum first step should be for all those companies in the palm oil sector: to adopt and implement a policy against deforestation and unsustainable exploitation (‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’, also known as NDPE). However, this statement is not a new step in our sustainability policy; companies in this sector were already analysed on their sustainability approach, in line with RSPO guidelines.
A total of 55 companies worldwide have signed the statement, investors and portfolio management companies together representing approximately $ 7.6 billion in assets under management. By taking joint action against the current situation in the palm oil industry, we can take a firm stand and kick-start the transition to a more sustainable sector. A change that is urgently needed – for the employees of those companies, for the landowners in those regions and for a better climate worldwide.
At a.s.r. vermogensbeheer, we are committed to delivering a good return – the other return, we also call it. A return that is good for our clients and good for the long term. The signing of this statement is in line with this commitment, as we once again emphasise our sustainability policy and reinforce our ambition of bringing about the transition to more sustainable palm oil.