Making palm oil plantations more sustainable

Making palm oil plantations more sustainable is a research project of the professorship Oil Palm and Tropical Forests.

The issue

There has been an ongoing discussion about palm oil and sustainability for a number of years now. On the one hand, palm oil cultivation provides unparalleled opportunities for the agro-food industry and local farmers in tropical countries. On the other hand, there is considerable protest from environmental and local groups because of land rights violations and the severe environmental impact.

The project

In this project, we are working with counterparts from Malaysia and Indonesia to improve the criteria and indicators for sustainable palm oil. This will allow palm oil consumers to establish with greater certainty whether palm oil has been grown sustainably.


The project has produced a series of background documents for the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). These can be downloaded from our website ( and used by stakeholders in the palm oil industry, NGOs and government policymakers. We also advised the RSPO on drawing up improved guidelines for the certification of small palm oil farmers.

Associate professor: Peter van der Meer, Oil Palm and Tropical Forests
Project duration: 2016 - 2020
Project partners: Wageningen University & Research, Oxford University UK, UNLAM Indonesia, UPM Malaysia, VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL)