Getting consumers to educate other consumers about sustainably-produced palm oil through film – that’s the aim of a special new category in the 11th Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival called Responsible Shopping: i Saw-it.
Organised for the first time by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in partnership with environmental organisation EcoKnights, the category calls for individuals, organisations and film enthusiasts from around the globe with a passion for social and environmental causes to champion responsible consumerism through film.
The title “i Saw-it” is coined from “buah sawit”, Malay for “palm fruit”, and “saw it”, defined in the competition as “having spotted RSPO-certified logos on products”.
This category calls for submissions of either a public service announcement, animation, or short film, and encourages entrants to tell their unique “Responsible Shopping: i Saw-it” stories with the objective of promoting awareness and use of products that contain certified sustainable palm oil.
“At RSPO, we understand that to drive awareness and action towards sustainable palm oil, we must consider new and unique ways to communicate with people more effectively,” says Gayathri Velayutham, RSPO outreach and engagement manager, during an interview.
“Film is a powerful storytelling medium that everyone can relate to, and we believe that collaborating with the Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Fest will facilitate our advocacy in ethical consumerism while advancing a community of informed shoppers who are keen to make responsible purchasing decisions, especially about products that contain palm oil.”
According to an article at forbes.com, Nielsen’s annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2015 indicated that 66% of consumers worldwide are willing to spend more on a product if it is made by a sustainable brand.
Millennials formed a bigger number, with 73% of those surveyed indicating a similar preference. Additionally, 81% of millennials even expect their favourite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.
“Many of the millennials today are better informed and care more because they are going to be living on this planet (longer),” says Gayathri.
She explains that the idea behind the project is to educate consumers to be more aware about how dependent we are on palm oil as a crop.
“It’s also to teach consumers to be a little more responsible in knowing what kind of products they are supporting when choosing their favourite brands, especially if the brand uses palm oil.
“We want to tell people that palm oil is not bad and if it is produced sustainably, it is actually a positive thing,” she says, adding that palm oil is used in 50% of products found on supermarket shelves.
Formed in 2004, RSPO unites stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders.
RSPO acknowledges that issues such as deforestation, labour rights, and damaging effects on nature and the environment are not uncommon in the agricultural sector, including palm oil, particularly when grown unsustainably.
Gayathri adds that the challenge within the supply chain is that much pressure is placed on the growers to produce sustainably. But manufacturers and retailers claim that consumers are not demanding sustainably-produced products, so they do not need to buy it.
“So RSPO aims to create that demand throughout the supply chain. Consumers need to be part of the solution by demanding that sustainable palm oil is used in their favourite brands,” she explains.
The Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival is Malaysia’s first and longest-running environmental film festival. This year’s theme, “Forests, Water and Climate Change”, is expected to select and present roughly 60 animations, children’s films, documentaries, narratives, short films and short documentaries from both local and international filmmakers, including the winners from the “Responsible Shopping: i Saw-it” special category.
The film festival will run Oct 22-28 at MAP Publika, Kuala Lumpur
The RSPO special category is open to all and submissions can be made by groups or individuals from any organisation (excluding RSPO and Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival secretariat staff).
Films can be produced in any language, with English subtitles mandatory for video submissions in other languages. There will be three winners for the main Special RSPO Awards and three winners for the Special RSPO (Student) Awards, all of which carry with them trophies, certificates and cash prizes. Winning works may also be featured on various international RSPO platforms.
The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2018. For more information and details on rules and regulations, go to rspo.org/isawit and kleff.my.