The roundtable, a global association created by organisations carrying out activities in and around the entire palm oil supply chain, aims to make sustainable palm oil a reality.
It also aims to address growing criticism of the industry's environmental impact.
Palm oil is found in a diverse range of products on our supermarket shelves including bread, crisps and margarine. The product is currently enjoying strong appeal as an ingredient because it is free of artery-clogging trans fats, formed when fats are hydrogenated to make them more solid and extend their shelf life.
But the sector has come under increasing attack from environmentalists. A few months ago for example, pressure group Friends of the earth (FoE) published its `Oil for Ape Scandal' study, which claimed that that without urgent intervention the palm oil trade could cause the extinction of the orang-utan ape within 12 years.
The problem, according to FoE, is that over 89 per cent of all palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia, and as a result almost 90 percent of the orang-utan's habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia has now been destroyed.
The meeting (RT4), which runs from the 21 to the 22 November 2006 in Singapore, therefore comes at a critical time for the sector. The roundtable is currently undergoing a two-year pilot testing period for the implementation of the Principles & Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production.
Preliminary results are expected to be announced at the meeting.
Since its formation in April 2004, the RSPO has grown steadily in size and complexity. With the acceptance of the 100th ordinary member on 22 May 2006, and total membership at roughly 140 members, RSPO has grown into a significant association.
At the 3rd Roundtable Meeting (RT3) on sustainable palm oil, and 2nd General Assembly (GA2) of members held in November last year, the principles and criteria for sustainable palm oil production (P&C) were adopted.
RT4 therefore provides the opportunity for stakeholders to pick up from where the left off last time, and to discuss and exchange experiences related to implementation of the P&C, verification and supply-chain aspects.
The new code of conduct for members will also be elaborated.