Introduction

The group has committed to ensuring that its environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy can contribute positively to climate action and biodiversity protection and can deliver sustainable growth for the benefit of all stakeholders into the future.

In support of this strategy, the group has developed an implementation roadmap framed by a series of principles and procedures to evaluate and address climate-related risks and opportunities related to the group’s business and the wider community. These principles and procedures aim to deliver regeneration through driving positive change, enhancing biodiversity and environmental protection, and providing opportunities for stakeholder prosperity.

The group has made a commitment to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in net GHG emissions (as defined in SECR below) by 2030 and to work towards the longer term objective of net-zero emissions by 2050. To this end, the group has signed up to the SBTi, an international, cross-industry framework aimed at promoting corporate adoption and disclosure of verified, science-based targets concerning decarbonisation. Under this framework, the group will be setting verified short and medium term emission reduction targets which will be published and against which the group must report on an agreed schedule.

The group has developed work programmes and initiatives based on the need to adapt and thrive in the face of risks and opportunities presented by ESG including climate change. If, as is projected, rainfall becomes increasingly intense during the wet seasons, infrastructure must be less flood-prone and more weather resistant. This requires investment in road-stoning, drainage and water management. If, as is also predicted, weather conditions become increasingly hot during the dry seasons, water stewardship will become increasingly challenging. The group continues to explore project opportunities aimed at increasing the resilience of the estate soils to both absorb and store increasing amounts of water and nutrients to help buffer the projected increasing weather variability. These projects include collaboration with researchers and commercial interests to develop methodologies for optimising the use of mill waste products, such as EFB and other sources of organic matter and nutrients for organic fertiliser.

In furtherance of these initiatives, in 2023 the group signed an initial five year collaborative research agreement with SEARRP, a Malaysian based organisation engaged in programmes to address environmental issues in the tropics, complementing the existing agreement with University of Cambridge signed in 2021. These agreements provide the group with access to world-renowned research networks focused on working in fragmented tropical landscapes in which oil palm cultivation plays a major role. Initial collaboration commenced with the group participating in survey work being carried out as part of the SEARRP SEnSOR programme to evaluate the effectiveness of biodiversity management and monitoring programmes. It is intended to develop a comprehensive soil health monitoring and enhancement research programme involving researchers from local universities and the SEARRP network. In addition, the group has submitted a joint proposal with researchers from the University of Mularwarman and BRIN (the Indonesian National Research and Innovation agency) to investigate the potential for converting organic mill by-products into biofertilisers so as to replace imported inorganic fertilisers.

With the group’s history of sustainable operations and smallholder projects to manage and ensure the traceability to source of its supply chain (as discussed under Smallholders below), the group aims to be well prepared, and is working with certain customers, to meet the requirements for deforestation-free products such as under the EUDR which comes into effect at the end of 2024.