Boeing supports RSB in workshop initiative to help small farmers in Southeast Asia produce sustainable biofuels
Mon 16 Dec 2013 – A workshop hosted by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and supported by Boeing has been held in Kuala Lumpur to help small farmers in Southeast Asia grow feedstocks that produce sustainable fuels. The workshop is part of a programme launched by RSB, Boeing and other partners to understand and address the challenges for smallholder farmers in accessing markets for sustainable biofuels and biomaterials. A workshop was also held the previous week in Mexico as part of a similar initiative launched in Latin America, which is due to continue in 2014 with Boeing support. South Africa will also feature in plans for a workshop next year. The aviation industry has backed the RSB’s voluntary certification system as providing the highest standard intended to promote best practices in social, environmental and economic sustainability.
The three-day Kuala Lumpur workshop, said RSB, aimed to support rural development and enhance livelihoods for smallholders using sustainability standards. Through case studies and hands-on experience, around 60 participants from 15 countries were able to identify smallholder barriers to market access and sustainability certification systems, and also develop integrated solutions to help overcome those barriers.
Several case studies were presented of small-scale biofuel production from across the region involving different types of smallholder production and organisation. Participants were also helped in developing strategies and mechanisms to scale up sustainable production.
“We will work with partners from across the region to identify how we can join together to help small farmers improve their production and income,” said Rolf Hogan, RSB Executive Secretary. “Certifying small farmers is the surest way to ensure sustainable biofuels not only reduce carbon emissions but also improve the livelihoods of rural communities.”
Commented Julie Felgar, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ Managing Director of Environmental Strategy and Integration: “Southeast Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for commercial aviation, has great potential to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel industry that also offers opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods.
“To help develop that potential, Boeing is working closely with partners such as RSB to ensure positive outcomes for the aviation industry, the environment and, most importantly, the people of Southeast Asia. This is part of Boeing’s efforts to build better communities worldwide.”
Meanwhile, a study by WWF published last month that assessed 13 certification standards accepted by the EU found a low to middle performance when analysed against a Certification Assessment Tool. While all schemes met the mandatory EU Renewable Energy Directive requirements, they were not enough to ensure sustainability, said WWF.
However, the best-performing scheme looked into by the analysis was the RSB standard. The top performing standards tended to be multi-stakeholder biofuels certification schemes that actively involve businesses, civil society and policy-makers in standard setting and implementation, added WWF.