Download our recent reports and publications for further information about SPOTT and sustainable commodity production.

Palm oil: a business case for sustainability

To investigate the business case for producing, sourcing and financing sustainable palm oil, ZSL commissioned an analysis of SPOTT assessment scores and financial performance data. This analysis is presented in Palm oil: a business case for sustainability by ZSL in conjunction with Aviva Investors.

The report makes a clear argument for companies to urgently change their practices and for the whole sector to push for sustainability. It is aimed at producers, buyers and investors seeking to understand the financial and business-based arguments for addressing the environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts of unsustainable palm oil production.

 

Sustainable palm oil and responsible investment

This report from Aviva Investors and ZSL’s dedicated SPOTT team – Sustainable Palm Oil and Responsible Investment – highlights that investors have the power to transform the whole palm oil industry, by encouraging the companies they finance to adopt more responsible policies on deforestation, land conflicts and labour conditions.

Focusing on the palm oil investment case through case studies, it outlines key questions that institutional investors should ask during their engagement with oil palm growers, traders and buyers, to help incentivise improvements to their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.

 

From disclosure to engagement

There is an ever-growing spotlight on the risks associated with sourcing palm oil and investing in its production. What information should palm oil producers and traders be disclosing to their stakeholders? What are the most pressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues for investors?

The comprehensive SPOTT framework of 125 transparency indicators for best practice in palm oil production highlights the potential financial, reputational and other risks facing responsible investors, buyers and wider stakeholders.

To support disclosure and engagement on these issues, ZSL has collaborated with palm oil companies, investors, banks, buyers, and other organisations to publish a detailed guide titled From disclosure to engagement: A guide to the SPOTT indicator framework for assessing palm oil producers and traders.

 

The need for spatial data transparency in the tropical forestry sector

From the mapping of complex supply chains across multinational companies through to local level monitoring of activities in the field, spatial data is a key tool to improve our understanding of drivers of forest degradation and biodiversity loss.

Transparency in the forestry sector – including publicly available and suitable spatial data about company operations – can play a key role in facilitating improved monitoring of forestry activities, increasing knowledge of supply chain impacts, and ultimately strengthening sustainability in the forestry sector.

This report from ZSL presents the case for spatial data disclosure by forestry companies. It provides guidance on the collection, disclosure and use of spatial data. It highlights the benefits of spatial data transparency to companies and wider stakeholders, including financial institutions and buying companies, who rely on accurate, consistent and transparent information to support their lending, investment and procurement decisions.

 

Smallholders: key to building sustainable palm oil supply chains

Approximately 40% of the world’s palm oil is produced by smallholder farmers, making them essential parts of global palm oil supply chains. To help make sustainable palm oil the norm, it is crucial that smallholders are incorporated into company sourcing strategies and have access to sufficient technical and financial support to produce palm oil sustainably.

This report from ZSL finds that there is a lack of disclosure by palm oil producers and traders on both the extent and locations of smallholders within their supply chains. Knowing where companies source from is critical to effectively implement and verify compliance with corporate commitments and legal requirements. Providing support and training to both independent and scheme smallholders can help companies ensure that the palm oil they source is produced in compliance with their policies.

To transform the palm oil sector, companies must extend their commitments to cover all their sourcing, disclose details of the smallholders in their supply chain, and increase support for the smallholders they source from.

 

HCV and HCS approaches by palm oil companies

The High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) approaches to land-use planning are used to identify and protect important environmental and social values that need to be conserved. These approaches are of great importance to companies’ approaches to conservation in general. They also contribute to risk reduction, the implementation of commitments to no deforestation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and safeguarding the rights of local communities.

This report from ZSL finds that over 70% of palm oil producers and traders assessed on SPOTT in November 2017 had made clear commitments to the HCV approach, increasing from 54% in October 2015. But despite this progress, only a third of companies clearly extend their HCV commitments to scheme smallholders and independent suppliers, indicating potential ESG risks.

 

Hidden land, hidden risks

ZSL has produced a thorough analysis of the land holdings disclosed by 50 of the world’s largest palm oil producers and traders assessed on SPOTT.

This SPOTT report – Hidden land, hidden risks? The need for improved corporate reporting of land holdings associated with palm oil production – shows that companies are failing to publicly disclose figures on their total landbank and details of the different areas under their management, potentially masking environmental and social risks, such as deforestation.