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Call for Expression of Interest: Study on Documenting the Economic Values of Micro and Small-scale Oil Palm Processing in Central and West Africa

In 2018, the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) was incorporated into the RSPO Principles & Criteria (P&C 2018). Indicator 7.12.3 of the P&C 2018 states, “In High Forest Cover Landscapes (HFCLs) within HFCCs, a specific procedure will apply for legacy cases and development by Indigenous Peoples and local communities with legal or customary rights, taking into consideration regional and national multi-stakeholder processes. Until this procedure is developed and endorsed, 7.12.2 applies.” The No Deforestation Joint Steering Group (NDJSG) was mandated to discuss and develop the ‘specific procedures’ for legacy cases and development by Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and Iocal communities (LCs).

In line with the efforts to support the development of this procedure by the NDJSG, RSPO is calling a tender for a study on documenting the economic values of micro and small-scale oil palm processing in Central and West Africa. This study aims to provide the NDJSG with relevant information on the existing small and micro scale oil palm development suited for development by IPs and LCs and explore their relationships/arrangements with mills. The information from this study shall guide the development works of the NDJSG. Further details of the study are outlined in the Terms of Reference here.

If you are interested in conducting this study, please submit your proposal to and the closing date to submit proposals will be 6 June 2021 at 6:00 p.m. (MYT).

For any enquiries relating to this tender, please contact

Launch of the High Carbon Stock Approach 2021 – 2025 Strategic Business Plan (SBP)

24th March  – The High Carbon Stock Approach is pleased to announce that its 2021 – 2025 Strategic Business Plan (SBP) was launched today at its bi-annual Steering Group virtual meeting.  The plan will work towards fulfilling HCSA’s Mission and Vision:

Mission: End commodity-driven tropical deforestation by providing land managers with practical, credible, and inclusive tools for land use planning.  

Vision: Natural forests linked to commodity production and consumption are conserved and restored throughout the tropics in cooperation with indigenous peoples and local communities.

By working with HCSA members, land use managers, communities, partners, and other stakeholders the HCSA aims to achieve its 2025 goal of conserving 5 million hectares of forests through scaling up the use of the HCS Approach methodologies.  These efforts will be employed through three main strategies:

  • Strategy 1: Ensuring successful implementation within commodity certification and verification schemes, and support initiatives, using the palm oil sector as a springboard for other commodities.
  • Strategy 2: Integrating HCSA with landscape and jurisdictional approaches and independent smallholder/farmer support initiatives that present the greatest impact potential.
  • Strategy 3: Advocating and facilitating the connection of active and prospective HCSA Toolkit users (supply chain actors: growers, smallholders, mills, commodity users etc.) to technical partners with comprehensive HCS-HCV (High Conservation Value) and community rights mapping capabilities.

In pursuit of these three strategies, HCSA will evolve into a centre of excellence for halting tropical deforestation supported by a significant scaling up of the HCSA Secretariat’s technical, outreach, and awareness building capabilities.  This will be done in conjunction with HCSA technology, revenue, and member benefit enhancements amongst other advancements.

In addition to the 2025 goal of achieving 5 million hectares of forest conservation through scaling up the use of the HCS Approach methodologies, the SBP contains ten-core metrics linked to financial, organisation, HCSA Toolkit users, and Toolkit impacts/performance targets that will be used to also track and report the success of the implementation of the SBP.

The 2021 – 2025 Strategic Business Plan, and the ambitious growth targets detailed within it, was developed based on input from a performance assessment of the HCSA conducted in 2020, and feedback provided by HCSA Steering Group members, secretariat staff, and external stakeholders at each stage of the development process.  HCSA’s SBP ambition is aligned with the critical need for urgent and accelerated action to end commodity-driven deforestation and achieve tropical forest conservation.  The implementation of the plan will further position the High Carbon Stock Approach as a credible multi-stakeholder initiative with a leading role in driving forward nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change, conserve biodiversity and advance actions in cooperation with indigenous peoples and local communities to uphold their rights and livelihoods.

HCSA Steering Group Statement on Valid HCSA and HCV-HCSA Assessments

The HCSA has an established HCSA Quality Review Process for stand-alone HCSA assessments, in addition to quality assurance processes undertaken by the High Conservation Value Network (HCVN) ALS system for HCV-HCSA Assessments, to ensure assessments are credible and transparent. [1]

The HCSA Toolkit is open access but requires companies to register planned HCSA assessments and work with Registered HCS Approach Practitioners and HCVN ALS Licensed Assessors to undertake and submit the assessment(s) for independent review. [2] These requirements are in place to ensure quality of assessments is in accordance with the HCSA Toolkit and/or HCV-HCSA Assessment Manual. These quality assurance processes also assist in ensuring that any claims made by land managers are supported by published registrations and results of the quality review processes.

HCSA or HCV-HCSA assessment will only be recognised as a valid assessment if the HCSA Quality Assurance or HCVN ALS system requirements are complied with and assessments are published.[3]

We strongly encourage organisations that have not yet registered and/or submitted HCSA stand-alone or HCV-HCSA assessments for quality assurance to do so to obtain recognition of a valid assessment.

Also see the HCSA Communication and Claims Guide for claims that can be made when referring to the use of the HCSA Toolkit when implementing the HCS Approach or HCV-HCS Approach that adhere to the recognised quality assurance processes.

[1] The HCSA Quality Review Process is a quality assurance process to be followed by HCSA’s members of the Steering Group members’ operations from 7th December, 2015 (HCS Approach Quality Review Process) and for their supply chain and investment holdings from 20th December 2016 (HCS Approach SG Membership Document Version 2, Final).  For other users of the HCSA Toolkit the quality assurance process was expected to be followed from the launch of Toolkit Version 2.0 from 3rd May 2017 onwards or earlier if a review was requested.

After November 2017, companies are required to conduct/commission HCV-HCSA Assessments which are evaluated by the HCVN ALS.  HCV-HCSA assessments are evaluated by a Quality Panel through the HCVN’s Assessor Licensing Scheme. For more details on the two quality assurance processes see this link.

[2] HCSA assessments are registered on HCSA’s website here.  HCSA members are required to register both HCSA stand-alone and HCV-HCSA assessments with the HCSA secretariat. Non-member are required to register HCSA stand-alone assessment as part of the HCSA QA process and encouraged to register HCV-HCSA assessments with the HCSA secretariat even though the QA process will be conducted by HCVN ALS. 

[3] After the First Round of Peer Review the company can address the findings and recommendations and provide responses to them and may also update their HCSA report as a result.  Peer reviewers then finalise the findings and recommendations in a final Peer Review Report.  The company can also make an additional public response to the final report which is published on the HCSA website – see more details here. In the ALS, assessors submit reports for evaluation by the ALS Quality Panel, which gives a satisfactory or unsatisfactory outcome. If the evaluation has an unsatisfactory outcome, assessors can amend and resubmit reports for re-evaluation for a total of two times.  Peer reviewed HCSA stand-alone assessments are published here and ALS evaluated HCV-HCSA assessments are published here.  Additionally, through HCSA’s GFW Pro monitoring platform, conservation areas identified under HCSA stand-alone and HCV-HCSA assessments of HCSA Steering Group member’s operations, raw material suppliers, and investment operations will be monitored to ensure they are maintained.

Call for Expressions of Interest for HCSA Grievance Panel Members

Following the publication of the new Grievance Mechanism (HCSA GM), the HCSA seeks expressions of interest from suitably qualified experts interested in fulfilling the role of Grievance Panel member.

When a complaint is received and accepted, an independent, three-person, ad hoc Grievance Panel is convened to process it. Grievance Panels act as the ultimate decision-makers of the HCSA GM.

Suitable candidates are shortlisted and later contacted by HCSA to form ad hoc Grievance Panels should complaints be submitted to the HCSA Secretariat and need processing under the HCSA Grievance Mechanism.

For more information, download the Terms of Reference for this tender here.

If you have the relevant experience and are interested, please send a letter outlining relevant experience to the HCSA Secretariat at For all queries relating to this call please also contact

It is to be noted that English will be used as the working language in the resolution process of the Complaint under review under the HCSA Grievance Mechanism.

New HCSA Grievance Mechanism

The HCSA has published a new Grievance Mechanism (HCSA GM). The HCSA GM outlines the process for ensuring a timely, independent, and effective resolution of complaints against its members for allegations of breaches of the HCSA Steering Group Code of Conduct or the application of the HCSA methodology.  

The HCSA GM exists to escalate concerns that cannot be resolved between the relevant parties, or when the resolution proposed by the HCSA member is not recognized as a mutually agreed outcome by parties affected by the implementation of the HCS Approach. It was developed to be in line with the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights, such as being accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, provide for continuous learning and dialogue, and ‘rights-compliant’, meaning it should ensure outcomes and remedies accord with internationally recognised human rights.  

More information, and the HCSA GM itself, can be accessed on its own webpage

The Establishment of HCSA Foundation

The HCSA Steering Group and Secretariat are pleased to announce the establishment of the charitable HCSA Foundation.[1]  The HCSA Foundation is based in the Netherlands and will act in the public interest to fulfil HCSA’s Purpose:

To ensure there is a practical, transparent, robust, and scientifically credible approach that is widely accepted to implement commitments to halt deforestation in the tropics while ensuring the rights, livelihoods, and aspirations of local peoples are respected.

Established in 2014, the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) is a methodology and toolkit that sets the standard approach for implementing no deforestation on-the-ground in tropical moist forest landscapes.  It is a methodology that distinguishes forest areas for protection from degraded lands with low carbon, social and biodiversity values that may be developed, whilst ensuring that the rights and livelihoods of communities and workers are respected.

The HCSA methodology can be used for integrated land use planning in any country and commodity grown in tropical moist forest landscapes[2] and was developed through a collaboration among private sector companies in the palm oil and pulp sectors, environmental and social NGOs, and technical support organisations. The HCSA is adapting its methodology for application by independent smallholders and their support-organisations or supply chain partners. Additionally, HCSA will soon have an open-access framework technical procedure for producing high-quality indicative HCSA-HCV maps at a landscape level.

As of December 2020, close to three million hectares of HCSA assessment area was registered and close to 700,000 hectares of HCS forests were identified[3] using the HCSA methodology, and are in the process of, or have already been, set aside by companies for non-development and conservation. The HCS forest and HCV conservation and community use outcomes are reported via publicly available and independently reviewed stand-alone HCSA or HCV-HCSA assessments. The HCSA’s Global Forest Watch Pro platform will be used for monitoring the long-term maintenance of the conservation areas. 

If you are interested in supporting and/or learning more about the HCSA please contact:

[1] As of 21st December 2020, the HCSA Foundation (RSIN 862017853) was classified as a Public Benefit Organisation (in Dutch it is called: Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling, (ANBI)).  The HCSA also has two subsidiaries of the foundation located in Singapore (HCS Ltd.) and Malaysia (HCS Approach Sdn. Bhd.).

[2] As of October 2020, the HCSA Toolkit has been used or trialled in 12 countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Mexico and Peru); for plantations of oil palm, pulpwood, cocoa and rubber.  See this link for more details on where the HCSA is being used and trialled.


The High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) is hiring to fill several positions within the HCSA Secretariat. Please find the following vacancies:

1The High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) is looking for a Malaysia Office and Human Resource Manager to be responsible for the management of the HCSA Human Resource and the HCSA Legal Entity of the HCSA Steering Group (SG). Other responsibilities will be the administration of the HCSA office and facilities, and management of Microsoft Office and other software.

For more information, please download the Job Description:
HCSA Malaysia Office & Human Resource Manager JD

If you have the relevant experience and are interested in the position above, please send in your CV and cover letter to the HCSA Secretariat at by Wednesday, 27 January 2021. Thank you.

CALL FOR TENDERS: Development of Socialisation Materials for Smallholders

The HCSA is calling for tenders for consultancy services to support the Smallholder Working Group in developing Socialisation Materials for smallholders. The consultant will work with HCSA’s Smallholder Working Group to develop socialisation materials to support efforts to increase awareness and capacity building among the independent smallholders to implement the HCS Approach and achieve No Deforestation.

For more information, download the Terms of Reference for this tender here.

If you have the relevant experience and are interested, please send in your proposal and quotation to the HCSA Secretariat at by Tuesday, 31 December 2020 at 5.30 pm (Malaysia time). For all queries relating to this tender please also contact Thank you.

New HCSA SG Member: Aidenvironment

The HCSA Executive Committee is pleased to announce HCSA’s newest Steering Group member, Aidenvironment.

Aidenvironment is a not-for-profit research, advisory and implementing consultancy. They create sustainability impact in agricultural and forest landscapes across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Aidenvironment believes in a sustainable world where there is respect for people and nature; where irreversible damage to ecosystems is avoided; where global production, trade, finance and consumption are fair and sustainable; and where governments, companies and civil society organizations work together. As a non-profit Aidenvironment wants to contribute to the world’s global challenges with innovative solutions.

Aidenvironment came on board as a HCSA TSO member on 24 November 2020. For more information, see their website


The HCSA is calling for tenders for consultancy services to support the HCSA’s effort in developing socialisation materials for Suppliers/ Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). For more information, download the ToR for this tender here.

If you have the relevant experience and are interested, please send in your proposal and quotation to the HCSA Secretariat at by Tuesday, 3 November 2020 at 5.30 pm (Malaysia time). For all queries relating to this tender please also contact Thank you.