President of Apical Group Dato’ Yeo How was at the 2nd Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs on 13 May 2015. He...
This time last year, RGE launched the RGE Forestry, Fibre, Pulp & Paper Sustainability Framework, under which RGE companies developed their respective sustainability policies.
RGE’s Sustainability Framework
Steered by RGE Chairman Sukanto Tanoto’s business philosophy of doing what is Good for Community, Good for Country, Good for Climate and Good for Company, the overarching Sustainability Framework has eight pillars:
- Proactive support of local communities;
- Respect for indigenous rights;
- Responsible workplace practices;
- No deforestation;
- Continuous reduction of carbon footprint;
- Responsible peatland management; and
- Responsible pulp and wood chip sourcing.
RGE’s Sustainability Framework applies not only to our fibre businesses, but also extends to supply partners.
Marking the first anniversary of the RGE Sustainability Framework, RGE Vice-Chairman Bey Soo Khiang said, “Sustainability is a central business imperative for us. ‘Good for Climate’ is now officially a tenet that Chairman has enshrined in our business philosophy. What the RGE Sustainability Framework has done is help to harmonise sustainability policies across our business groups.”
APRIL Group updated its Sustainability Forest Management Policy (SFMP 2.0) on June 3, 2015, committing to eliminating deforestation from its supply chain and protecting the forest and peatland landscapes in their operation areas. The independent Stakeholder Advisory Committee, which comprises respected environment and forestry experts and NGO representatives, audits and monitors APRIL’s implementation of the SFMP 2.0.
An Independent Peat Expert Working Group was formed to help APRIL fulfill commitments in its SFMP 2.0. Comprising national and international experts, the Group is tasked with providing recommendations to APRIL on:
- Best management practices to be implemented in existing plantations on peatland;
- Actions required to ensure conservation of forested peatland and critical peatland landscapes;
- Development options for non-forested peatland (which could include options ranging from plantation development through to restoration initiatives).
In the past year, APRIL has reached new frontiers in its eco-restoration efforts. At COP21 in Paris, APRIL announced it will double its peatland restoration commitment in Indonesia (Restorasi Ekosistem Riau) to 150,000 hectares, bringing its conservation commitments to a total of 400,000 hectares (or 83% of its 1:1 commitment) and pledged a USD 100 million investment over 10 years dedicated to conservation and eco-restoration.
In addition to expanding its Fire-Free Village Programme from 9 to 20 villages in 2016, APRIL Group also became a founding member of the Fire-Free Alliance. The Fire-Free Alliance comprises a larger number of like-minded stakeholders from forestry companies and NGOs united in championing fire prevention.
The China-based company engaged its suppliers and encouraged them to obtain certifications such as those from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and Chinese Forest Certification (CFCC).
Asia Symbol also bagged awards for its impactful corporate social responsibility programmes, which focus on community development and environmental stewardship. Its “I’m a little papermaker” programme is a forward-looking environmental initiative that cultivates environmentally friendly habits in school children.
The company also earned the honours of being the first in the world to have double certification for its product – by the PEFC and CFCC.
As a world-leading and responsible VSF producer, it continues to work with environmental NGOs such as Canopy and some brand companies to set up supply chain tracing to ensure its supply meets the high environmental standards meted out in its policies. All its three plants in China have received PEFC CoC certification.
Asian Agri and Apical
Non-fibre business groups in RGE have also adopted the principles in the RGE Sustainability Framework. Our palm oil business groups Asian Agri and Apical, for example, have stepped up efforts to improve supply chain processes. A partnership with The Forest Trust (TFT) was announced on June 16, 2015, to the help Asian Agri and Apical map their supply chains and enhance traceability. They have also engaged suppliers to help them comply with their sustainability policies and receive certification. All progress is documented in the online TFT dashboard.
Asian Agri’s Sustainability Policy emphasises the following commitments: Zero deforestation, peatland protection, improve positive socio-economic impact for communities, and implement best management practices. It has helped all its Plasma smallholders receive RSPO and ISCC certification. It is also a founding member of the Fire-Free Alliance.
Apical’s Sustainability Policy articulates commitments to the protection of high conservation value and high carbon stock areas, protection of peat, and driving positive socio-economic impact to communities. All of Apical’s three mills are fully certified.
The Right Fundamentals
Mr Bey: “As our business groups continue learning and improving their sustainability practices and implementation, we are confident we will see meaningful results in the longer term for our stakeholders and the environment. We have improved on our stakeholder engagement and communications. We have adopted models that we believe holistically, systematically, efficiently and transparently address chronic and emergent challenges.
“Our dedication and commitment to sustainability are based on the right fundamentals. There is still a long road ahead of us, but we are very clear on what we want to achieve.”