The GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP) – one year on
We’ve just passed the one-year mark since we launched our updated and enhanced sustainability policy, the GSEP, and it’s a good time to take a look at what’s been happening since.
The GSEP is the master document that contains all the sustainability policies we’ve developed and adopted over the last two decades related to conservation, Zero Burning, no development on peat and engagement with the communities. In line with the latest thinking about what sustainability encompasses, the GSEP also includes our commitments concerning a decent workplace environment and our supply chain.
Progress to date
The GSEP is the roadmap for our continuing journey towards sustainable palm oil and we’re tracking progress against our GSEP commitments publicly. Our targets are spelled out in the Sustainability Report 2015 or SR2015. Quarterly progress reports on the Sustainability Dashboard also record progress in our main focus areas of forest conservation, fire and haze prevention and supply chain engagement.
It’s been an eventful year. Our success stories to date include encouraging progress in our conservation partnerships with local communities. This is absolutely key if we are to meet our commitment to protect the 75,000 hectares of conservation area (High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value) we have identified in our concessions. Without the buy-in and collaboration of local communities, this commitment would just remain a number on paper.
In the first half of this year, we’ve received the consent of four villages to agree to the setting aside of over 5,000 hectares of forest areas. This followed on from our joint mapping exercises with the communities in which we helped them map out the land use in their villages. Building on this success, we will continue to roll out this collaborative approach throughout our estates in Indonesia.
Other highlights include our outreach and advocacy work with the local communities within a five-kilometre radius of our concessions on fire prevention. We piloted the Desa Siaga Api programme earlier this year, and as the end of the dry season approaches, we’ll be carrying out the first evaluation of these villages to see how well they’ve done in keeping fire incidents down to a minimum or from happening at all.
As for our supply chain engagement, that is well and truly underway. Our Supplier Support Team recently organised the second workshop for suppliers in Medan, North Sumatera. Around 70 suppliers attended the workshop which focussed on helping them understand the ins-and-outs of getting Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil certification by linking them up with government officials, certification bodies and NGOs. Concurrently, we continue onwards with our Traceability to Plantation exercise, mapping our supply chain back to the individual farmer with the aim of helping them become more sustainable in the process.
It’s not enough to have a policy document that sits on our website. In order to truly embed sustainability in our culture, we’ve been trying to ensure that all our employees not only know that we have such a policy but at the very least understand the main pillars of the GSEP. GSEP training, especially for those whose jobs are directly related to implementing the policy on the ground has been ongoing since the policy was launched. To date, nearly 6,000 employees have undergone training. Aside from this, we’ve held internal info-campaigns on our sustainability vision in Singapore. Townhalls are also periodically held in Jakarta and Singapore to keep staff up-to-date on sustainability milestones.
Having a policy is a good foundation, but aside from proper implementation we’ll need to ensure that it is up-to-date with latest trends and developments whether within the industry or the wider external environment.
The GSEP is a living document and will be refreshed periodically to ensure it remains relevant and that we as a company are on the right track to achieve economic growth, social advancement and environmental protection. This includes taking into account global developments such as the launch of the Sustainability Development Goals by the UN. We are pursuing many of the same goals and we’ll be looking at how to better align our policy commitments to the SDGs. As we begin to look into areas such as our water management by carrying out baseline studies to establish our water footprint, we’ll also explore the inclusion of a commitment on water usage in the GSEP. Through our ongoing engagement with key stakeholders including government, NGOs, investors and the community we will receive regular feedback which will inform our next update of the policy.
To find out more about our GSEP targets, see our SR2015.