RSPO Members in Guatemala and Honduras adapt sustainable palm oil standards

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has issued the Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production since 2005, with its most recent version issued in 2018. Currently, RSPO members in Guatemala and Honduras are collaborating online to raise awareness and bring the standards into context through each country’s legal framework.

Harvest labor – Cooperativa Salamá, Honduras


The certification validates member companies towards their clients, promoting and auditing for standard practices through 163 indicators that protect human rights and natural resources, and will also bring prosperity to the producers, companies, and communities where they are located.

RSPO members in Guatemala and Honduras created groups that, along with other actors, work together under the continuing oversight of RSPO representatives in Latin America.

Solidaridad is facilitating and leading a process of national interpretation of the RSPO standards in Honduras and Guatemala, that allows multiple stakeholders to actively and openly discuss challenges associated with sustainable palm oil production in each country.” – Francisco Naranjo, RSPO regional director for Latin America.

Actors involved in this analysis include key stakeholders from the private and public sectors, academia, civil society including social and environmental NGOs, as well as guests of honour from international organizations. The national interpretation will allow palm oil producers and industrial leaders to implement the standards, using localized guidelines, which will facilitate compliance for members abiding by RSPO criteria. This, in turn, will bring greater sustainability and competitiveness to the companies and the sector. Furthermore, actors from civil society and the public sectors will have a tool available that will help them keep the palm sector accountable.

Herbicide application using safety equipment and measures – ACEYDESA, Honduras

RSPO is confident these processes generate appropriate spaces that will foster the adoption of sustainable practices and propel sustainable palm oil production and sustainable palm product use in the region,” added Naranjo.


Due to the current crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Solidaridad has adapted the traditional workflow, including meetings and workshops, to a virtual and digital modality, through the Mesoamerican Palm Oil Alliance (MAPA) website.

The MAPA site contains reference information and working documents used to analyse each implementation guideline through the three pillars of RSPO standards: Prosperity, People and Planet.

General view of the MAPA platform, used by RSPO Members in Guatemala and Honduras in the national interpretation process

The preliminary document, taking into account all contributions should be ready by September 2020. With that document, Solidaridad will then engage in an online public consultation that will involve more stakeholders in the region to gather comments and contributions. This will allow the working groups to expand and enrich the applicability of this document and ensure that each pillar of the standards takes a thorough look into the context of each country’s regulatory framework.


Palm oil production has become an important part of the economic development of both Guatemala and Honduras, as both nations are producing the crop for exports into Europe.

In addition, African palm, as compared to other oil-producing crops such as coconut or soybean, is up to 10 times more efficient in terms of land use. For this reason, the crop is attractive to national and international investors. “Guatemala is number one in the world in terms of land use efficiency, producing 6.9 tons of crude oil per hectare, as compared to 3.5 or 3.8 in other palm oil producing countries. The country is also number six in palm oil exports,” says Flavio Linares, Head of Technical Programmes for Solidaridad in the region. 

Plant nursery – Las Palmas, Guatemala

In Honduras, palm has a high social value, considering the approximate 16,000 smallholders who make a living from palm and palm oil. In addition, there are at least 45 associations and cooperatives that increase the likelihood that shareholders will be able to access credit and export markets, for the sustainable development of their livelihood.

Despite its benefits for developing nations, palm has historically been a controversial crop, with reports of deforestation, poor labor practices, and other poor practices that go against global and local sustainable goals. For this reason, many companies aspire to become certified by RSPO. Through this certification process, RSPO members in Guatemala and Honduras not only reach their sustainability objectives, but they also make evident their commitment to the sustainable production of their products. 

To learn more about palm oil industry news and find information on training or conferences happening in the region, visit the MAPA website.