Press Release

21 April 2022

The High Conservation Value Network (HCVN) and the Mexican Oil Palm Federation (FEMEXPALMA) have signed a 5-year cooperation agreement to promote sustainable production of palm oil in Mexico through three strategic lines of work: Conservation, Capacity Building and Outreach.

FEMEXPALMA is the first oil palm federation to sign a cooperation agreement with the HCV Network, a global, member-based organization that protects High Conservation Values (HCVs) from the impacts of land-use change. Through this agreement, FEMEXPALMA producers show their commitment to produce palm oil sustainably in Mexico, a country where poor land-use planning is putting critical natural, social, and cultural values at risk.

The cooperation agreement includes three lines of work:


The HCV Network will support FEMEXPALMA’s members and allies to design better strategies to manage and monitor High Conservation Values and support smallholders to achieve RSPO certification and implement good agricultural practices. Joint fundraising will be key to ensure implementation of activities.

Capacity building

Identification of High Conservation Values is key to guide responsible land-use planning and landscape management. One of the main activities in this line of work includes strengthening local capacity for the identification of HCVs and providing continuous learning activities to improve HCV management and monitoring strategies. FEMEXPALMA’s CIISPALMA center will serve as a learning hub.


This line of work seeks to raise awareness about responsible palm oil production in Mexico and showcase how the HCV Approach can support sustainability efforts in the sector. Activities will include developing and sharing evidence-based outreach materials, using both HCV Network and FEMEXPALMA’s communications experience, with key stakeholders including the Mexican palm oil sector, local NGOs, local communities and the wider public.

High Conservation Values in oil palm production landscapes

The palm oil sector in Mexico has grown exponentially since the crop was introduced in the early 1990s. Palm oil is grown in four states: Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, and Chiapas, with Chiapas having the largest extension of cultivated area in the country. These states harbor High Conservation Values (HCVs), including the only tropical rainforests in Mexico, home to iconic species like the jaguar and the tapir. There is also a rich cultural diversity due to the presence of indigenous peoples including the Chʼol, Tzotzil and Chontal Maya. Conserving HCVs is vital to meeting international climate change and biodiversity targets, and thus, palm oil production in Mexico must follow the strictest environmental and social safeguards to avoid harmful impacts on nature and people. This will be only possible through close collaboration amongst stakeholders, and with public incentives that are not at odds with global sustainability targets and markets.

Photo Credit: Gabriel Tovar.

Protecting High Conservation Values - HCVs

High Conservation Values are biological, ecological, social, or cultural features of outstanding significance or critical importance. There are six categories of HCVs covering biodiversity, ecosystem services, nature’s contributions to people and cultural heritage.

The most important voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) require the protection of High Conservation Values to guide responsible farming of food and other key commodities such as cotton and rubber. The HCV Approach is a methodology that is used in areas where development is already happening and ensures that any land use decision processes take into account HCVs so they are not destroyed or damaged.

One of the VSS that requires the identification and protection of HCVs prior to the establishment of any new oil palm plantations is the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Standard for Sustainable Oil Palm Production. Companies also must manage these areas properly to ensure their long-term protection. The HCV Network is working together with companies to explore opportunities for best management and monitoring practices of HCVs.

Palm oil production in Mexico & global markets

Mexico’s National Agriculture Plan 2017-2030 seeks to boost palm oil production and develop export markets in the USA, Canada, the European Union (EU), and Asia. However, for Mexican producers to be able to export to key markets such as the European Union, they will have to meet strict requirements such as certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The new proposed EU regulation on deforestation-free products will also require companies that sell products produced with soy, palm oil and beef to ensure they are deforestation-free before entering the European market or exporting them from the EU. With global markets becoming stricter, the HCV Approach can support Mexican palm oil producers, and the Mexican government, ensuring that oil palm is not grown at the expense of ecosystems such as forests, and the needs of local communities and indigenous peoples.


HCV Network

The HCV Network sets the standard for the implementation of the HCV Approach, which encompasses the identification, management, and monitoring of High Conservation Values. The methodology has been extensively used for 20-years to protect High Conservation Values (HCVs) from the negative impacts of land-use change. The HCV Network provides support to all users of the HCV Approach. In oil palm production, the HCV Network provides quality assurance of HCV and HCV-HCSA assessments (the studies needed to identify HCVs) and provides technical support and tools to protect HCVs and engage with other stakeholders such as smallholder farmers in the process.

As a Mexican I am very excited about the HCV Network’s collaboration with Femexpalma. Our organizations are joining forces to promote sustainable production of palm oil in Mexico, one of the world’s megadiverse countries. We look forward to working with Femexpalma to ensure that palm oil production in Mexico is not at odds with protecting biodiversity, habitats, and the immense cultural heritage of our country. Paulina Villalpando, Global Director, HCV Network.


The Mexican National Palm Oil Federation, FEMEXPALMA is an independent entity that represents palm production – palm oil growers and mills – at the national level and promotes the increase of productivity in a sustainable way. FEMEXPALMA provides expert advice, capacity building and apply research in the palm oil industry. The organization ensures collaboration with multiple stakeholders across the palm oil supply chain in Mexico. Additionally, FEMEXPALMA managed to install the First Sustainability and Innovation Research Center for Palm Oil in Mexico, named CIISPALMA as a technical and applied facility in benefit of the entire agroindustry.

At FEMEXPALMA the adoption of sustainable practices across the value chain has been a key element of our daily work. The cooperation agreement between the HCV Network and FEMEXPALMA will translate into increased technical capacity for the Mexican palm oil sector. It is the beginning of a long-term collaboration that will help us conserve High Conservation Values, promote initiatives, capacity building, and develop tools to support sustainable development of oil palm in Mexico. José Luis Pérez Vázquez Aldana, CEO of Femexpalma.