Indonesian palm oil industry takes step towards sustainability
Musim Mas Group Plantations, is the first company in Indonesia to demonstrate that some of its plantations comply with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria, a set of standards that helps ensure that palm oil is produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil.
The RSPO brings together oil palm growers, oil processors, food companies, retailers, NGOs and investors to help ensure that no rainforest areas are sacrificed for new oil palm plantations, that all plantations minimize their environmental impacts and that basic rights of local peoples and plantation workers are fully respected.
“Musim Mas hopes that its certification will encourage more Indonesian companies to follow suit,” said Liantong Gan, head of Musim Mas’ sustainability department.
Musim Mas’ certification underscores the progress that WWF, and others, have made in efforts to increase the number of palm oil producers that are operating sustainably.
WWF works to ensure that oil palm expansion does not come at the expense of forests by promoting its expansion onto degraded lands. It is also helping to develop guidance for the small holders representing 40 per cent of Indonesia’s palm oil growers.
"WWF is pleased to see progress in Indonesia, but there is much work to be done before sustainable palm oil can be a mainstream reality," said Ian Kosasih, Director of the Forest Programme at WWF Indonesia.
"WWF Indonesia will continue to cooperate with stakeholders to build the capacity of farmers to implement the RSPO guidelines, promote the use of idle or degraded land for oil palm expansion, and put pressure on those companies that persist in converting natural forest for oil palm expansion," Kosasih said.
WWF helped organize the training for 21 training representatives from small Indonesian palm oil plantations from West Sumatra, Riau, South Sumatra, Jambi, and West of Kalimantan.
WWF held the training in collaboration with the Indonesian Smallholders Working Group, the Department of Agriculture, the RSPO Indonesia Liaison Office, Sawit Watch, and various certification bodies. The training stemmed from a memorandum of understanding signed on Feb. 17 between the RSPO and the Indonesian Department of Agriculture.
The objective was to educate trainers on the threats of oil palm plantations to the region’s forests and local species, to motivate smallholders to comply with the RSPO P & C, and to provide practical ways smallholders can comply with these sustainability criteria, including mitigating the wildlife human conflict that often occurs happens in oil palm plantations.
In addition, a syllabus and training modules were developed so that the representatives could take them back to their operations for educational purposes.
The Indonesian Smallholders Working Group is planning to hold further trainings in the five provinces represented at the March training, and follow them up with audits.
As a founding member of the RSPO, WWF has worked since 2002 with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the RSPO standards contain robust social and environmental criteria, including a prohibition on the conversion of high conservation value (HCV) areas.
The workshop and Musim Mas’ certification come only months after the first shipment of RSPO certified sustainable palm oil arrived in Europe from southeast Asia.
Several European companies, including Unilever, Sainsbury’s and Albert Heijn, have already made strong public commitments to buy certified sustainable palm oil.
The next RSPO Roundtable meeting and the 6th General Assembly of RSPO members will be held in November 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.