EU and FAO representatives visit an ISPO-certified oil palm plantation in Riau on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Akbar Tado)

EU Visit to Oil Palm Plantation in Riau Eases Tensions

MAY 13, 2019

Jakarta. Eight EU representatives from Belgium, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and a representative from the Food and Agriculture Organization, visited an Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil-certified oil palm plantation in Riau on Thursday.

The visit was initiated by the Directorate General of American and European Affairs of Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Ministry to show the EU representatives proof of progress made by the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification.


It was also meant to prove the country's commitment in establishing sustainable practices in the palm oil industry.

"The EU representatives spoke with various stakeholders in our palm oil industry, starting from the government and the businesses, and then down to the farmers. From the dialogue they had with the farmers, we think they are starting to understand that ISPO is an integral part of Indonesia's commitment to creating a sustainable palm oil industry," ISPO commission head Azis Hidayat said in Jakarta on Friday.

Azis said the visit gave the EU representatives a much better picture of the Indonesian government's commitment and transparency in implementing sustainable palm oil management practices.

According to Azis, the EU reps saw for themselves how ISPO has not only adopted international sustainable standards, but also strives to go beyond them.

"ISPO not only adheres to the 'No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation' [NDPE] rule, but also adds other criteria such as social responsibility and community empowerment, as well as seeking to improve the existing sustainable practices," Azis said.

The Indonesian government has been saying that palm oil production under the ISPO scheme plays an important role in decreasing deforestation and improving the environment.

"ISPO has strict rules that prohibits planting oil palm in primary forests and national parks. We only certify plantations in areas that are clear and legal, such as Other Use Areas [APL]," Azis said. 

There are currently 15 certification agencies working for ISPO, including six in Europe and one in Australia, with more than 1,500 auditors.

ISPO also employs eight consulting agencies and three ISPO training institutes to ensure each certification is made independently.

Bambang Aria Wisena, the head of fiscal affairs at Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki), said in a press release he hopes ISPO will soon become the main platform for sustainability in Indonesia's palm oil industry.

As a mandatory certification, ISPO and its supporting regulations will help the palm oil industry increase productivity while at the same time maintain sustainable, responsible and legal practices.

Strengthening ISPO is imperative in maintaining Indonesia's position as the number one palm oil producer in the world.