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Multinationals cannot prevent palm oil deforestation on their own

May 13, 2015

Multinationals cannot prevent palm oil deforestation on their own

Andrew Bovarnick, Samantha Newport and Tomoyuki Uno
Wednesday 13 May 2015 12.56 BST

As the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, Indonesia counts on this much-used commodity – that generates almost $20bn a year for the country and employs millions – to drive growth and development.

But the palm oil boom has triggered controversy. With Indonesia set to increase production by 50% by 2020 to meet rising demand, the question is not one of palm oil or not, but of how to maximise the economic and development benefits while minimising the adverse social and environmental effects.

To achieve this, the government needs to bring together all palm oil stakeholders, including private businesses and smallholder farmers, to lead on innovative yet decisive change that will boost sustainability and governance in the sector and steer the country towards a deforestation-free palm oil industry.

Taking action
Shortly after taking office last year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo vowed to crack down on deforestation resulting from palm oil expansion. Last month, vice-president Jusuf Kalla called on the international community to partner with Indonesia on investing in green development at The Tropical Landscapes Summit (TLS) in Jakarta.

The government has also launched a mandatory certification scheme – the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard – to legalise and organise production, particularly that of small producers, by providing a legal baseline standard that will complement the voluntary Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard. ISPO, like new standards, has to overcome challenges to become robust and credible, but once fully operational has the potential to raise the standards of all growers in the country and have a major positive impact on the sector.

Read more at The Guardian.

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