Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil

Project description

Title: Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil
Commissioned by: Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe (FNR) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)
Countries: Supraregional 
Overall term: 2013 to 2015


The environmental organisation WWF estimates that around half of all supermarket products contain palm oil, including washing powders, lipsticks, ice cream and other foods. Much of the palm oil produced globally is also used as biofuel in our vehicles. The resource often draws criticism because the oil palm is grown in rainforests. The destruction of the forest and the cultivation of oil palms in peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and often go hand in hand with exploitation and displacement of local communities and small farmers, as well as a loss of biodiversity.

At the same time, the oil palm accounts for the largest share in global production of vegetable fats (around 32 per cent). Replacing palm oil with other vegetable oils, such as sunflower, cocoa, rape or soya, would not cover rising global demand.

Certification of palm oil with internationally recognised certification systems such as the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) system or the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) ensures that countries producing palm oil do so more sustainably.

The certification includes guarantees that rainforests or areas worthy of protection are not turned into palm oil plantations. The basic rights of the indigenous landowners, the local communities, as well as of employees of companies that cultivate oil palms, small farmers and their families, are respected and taken into consideration. In addition, pesticides may be used to only a very limited extent in future. Mills and companies that cultivate oil palms must keep their environmental impacts as low as possible.


Increased demand for sustainably produced and certified palm oil leads in the long term to changes in practices in the palm oil sector, especially in the producer countries.

The aim of the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP) is to significantly boost the proportion of certified palm oil, palm kernel oil and their derivatives and fractions on the German, Austrian and Swiss markets. 


The Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil helps businesses switch to certified palm oil. The members of the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil work together to change the impact of conventional palm oil cultivation for the long term. Their activities include the following:

  • evolving and improving the existing certification systems
  • establishing transparency regarding the certified palm oil available on the German, Austrian and Swiss markets
  • networking with initiatives, companies and non-governmental organisations in Europe
  • providing information to the general public about more sustainable palm oil production and the conditions under which palm oil is cultivated in the producer countries.

Besides providing access to best practices and lessons learned, FONAP offers its members regular training courses and seminars. Furthermore, small and medium-sized enterprises benefit from guidance on purchasing certified palm oil.


In 2015, around 72 per cent of the palm oil used in Germany came from sustainable production. If the energy sector, where the law requires all palm oil to be certified, is removed from the equation, the share of sustainable palm oil is 47 per cent.

Compared with the figure for 2013, this is a significant increase of 12 per cent. All members of FONAP have declared a public commitment and are promoting the use of certified sustainable palm oil. Moreover, they aim to make it possible to trace the palm oil used and want to ensure compliance with certain additional criteria not yet covered by the certification systems.

Further information