The Malaysian state of Sabah is aiming to verify all its palm oil as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) by 2025 in order to secure exports to the EU.

Achieving the certification would make the state the first in the world to adopt CSPO, The Malaysian Insight wrote on 3 November.

The decision to adopt the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)’s CSPO certification over the domestic Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) scheme was made to ensure compliance with EU plans to establish a single CSPO scheme for palm oil and other vegetable oils entering the EU market, said Sabah forestry director Sam Mannan.

The EU called for the CSPO requirement to be put into place in April, when it also announced its intention to phase out vegetable oil-based biodiesel by 2020.

The enactment of EU requirements could be vital to Sabah – located at the northern tip of Borneo island – which produced 30% of Malaysia’s palm oil supply, with 12.8% of its coming from smallholders.

The decision was also partly based on Sabah’s experience in the 1990s, when it failed to acquire the Forest Stewardship Council certification for six months, bringing EU exports of Malaysian timber screeching to a halt and costing the state’s forestry industry millions of ringgit.

According to Mannan, the decision to choose CSPO over MSPO was the state’s own business, as due to an agreement made with the Malaysian government in 1963 on its special rights, land matters came under state authority.

“Forestry in Sabah and Sarawak is 100% under their respective governments. So we choose [the certification] that we believe is best for the state,” he said.

Vice president of the EU Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians’ Conference on Environment and Development Marcus Mojigoh said on 30 October that the EU would be ratifying the CSPO decision in November.

However, the EU delegation to Malaysia denied in a statement that the resolution would be ratified, saying it was non-binding in nature.

“It represents the views of the European Parliament, reflecting the concerns put forward by various segments of EU public opinion as part of our democratic process. This resolution is not part of a legislative initiative and thus, it does not need any ratification by EU member countries,” the delegation said.