Palm oil is one of the most in-demand vegetable oils with a wide range of use cases from cosmetics and processed foods to biofuel. With the growth of the world population, so does the market demand for palm oil increase. This often leads to the expansion of palm plantations to tropical rainforest with a high biodiversity and to areas with high soil carbon stock such as peatlands and wetlands. To tackle this issue, the European Commission is considering new rules for improving the state of EU-driven deforestation and palm oil is one of the six commodities which must have a fully traceable supply chain and deforestation free sourcing. GRAS (Global Risk Assessment Services)  has more than a decade of experience in monitoring and reporting sustainability risks for different commodities such as coffee, cocoa, soy, and palm oil sector in various countries around the world and is recognized for its customized services for conducting sustainability analyses. To support the EU acting on global deforestation and forest degradation, GRAS is contributing to the implementation of deforestation-free supply chains with introducing the Automatic RIsk Assessment (ARIA) platform which provides an easy–to–use and fully automated sustainability risk report within just a few minutes. ARIA is currently available for palm oil risk assessments over Indonesia and Malaysia which together account for more than 80% of the global palm oil production.

What is ARIA? 

ARIA stands for Automatic RIsk Assessment and is a platform with the ability to generate a fully automated sustainability report in just a few minutes. The ARIA report includes several datasets necessary for assessing the sustainability regarding palm plantations using remote sensing techniques. The platform is user-friendly and straight-forward thus facilitating users to generate reports for individual or group of farms with no expertise needed. Users are able to track the progress of all reports requested and access them unlimitedly. The platform also offers the request for a detailed assessment on field- or plantation-level executed by GRAS. Finally, any transaction process is secure, easy, and efficient thus reducing the paperwork and (your) carbon footprint. 

How is it done and what does it contain?

Users simply need to upload their plantation outlines/assessment areas in one of the accepted digital standard formats. Once the user confirms the areas for each report, the system automatically analyses the risks and creates the report in a matter of minutes. The final reports are then available in the users’ account for view or download. Several datasets determine the sustainability risk for palm plantations including deforestation or potential replanting. Reports do not only contain the calculated overlapping areas of each risk category but also maps that show the exact location of each spatial dataset within the assessment area. Those datasets represent land related ISCC criteria on potential deforestation since 2008, protected areas of high biodiversity and areas of high carbon stock as well as peatlands. Additionally, the report includes further information on the topography and the history of the area in order to highlight the risk of soil erosion and degradation. 

What can I use it for/ What can I get from it?

The ARIA report provides an initial assessment of the ISCC Principle 1 and 2 criteria regarding the protection of biodiverse and carbon-rich areas with the aid of innovative technologies. ARIA Reports support the decision-making process for auditors to assess and quantify environmental conditions of the farms and plantations that are going to be certified. In cases of doubt or when onsite investigations are not possible, auditors can request a detailed assessment, which excludes all the replanting activities from the detected potential deforestation areas. By including time series analysis and high-resolution satellite imagery to the detailed analyses, auditors then receive more information such as yield estimation, drought risk assessment and many more in return. In conclusion, the environmental conditions of farms which shall be certified are understood more deeply. 

How will it be implemented into ISCC certification?

ISCC will introduce the ARIA platform into its audit procedures in 5 steps:   

  1. Online webinar: 25 October 2022, duration of 1 hour (starting time in timezones: 9:30 am Berlin – 2:30 pm Indonesia – 3:30 pm Malaysia) 
  2. Online Training will be available: 1 November 2022
  3. Voluntary Phase: 1 November 2022 – 31 January 2023
  4. Transition Phase: 1 February – 30 April 2023
  5. Mandatory Phase: from 1 May 2023 in Malaysia and Indonesia

Please register here for the webinar on 25 October 2022, which will cover the following topics: general information on the ARIA platform, difference to GRAS Tool, scope, change in audit procedures, implementing phases, Q&A.