Marzuki Darusman, chairman for the Foundation for International Human Rights Reporting Standards (FIHRRST), said the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Law has done much to push the industry towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically on human rights. (Antara Photo/ Akbar Tado)

Marzuki Darusman: Palm Oil Companies Must Focus on Human Rights

JULY 23, 2019

Jakarta. The Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Law has done much to push the industry towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically on human rights.

Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the Foundation for International Human Rights Reporting Standards (FIHRRST), said this would be an advantage for the country when lobbying the European Union, especially in countering its ban on biofuels based on its Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II)

He added that the Indonesian government must be on the frontlines, taking initiatives and implementing quick goals.

"Different from other issues that must be tackled methodically, those involving human rights can be solved immediately," Marzuki told the Jakarta Globe on July 16. 

He said when it comes to human rights issues, the key is admitting injustice, imbalance or wrongdoing, and making changes as soon as possible. 

"Human rights issues must be solved immediately; there's no use in hiding, because information is readily available everywhere," Marzuki said.

As one of the main drivers of the country's economic future, the government must take human rights issues in the palm oil industry seriously, while serious arguments must be made on sustainable goals the industry has already reached, he said.

"There is great potential in the [palm oil] industry. Therefore, goals listed in the SDGs, such as eradicating poverty and improving education, must be prioritized, because they are our human rights," Marzuki said. 

"At a closer look, we can see campaigns against palm oil revolve around the same issues of health, sustainability and human rights. Rather than debate 'green groups,' we should focus our attention on lobbying pro-development and environmental parties," he explained.

"We must explain to them that palm oil is essential for the world to reach energy independence," he added.

Marzuki said palm oil companies need not walk alone in seeking sympathy from the European Union.

The issue of human rights is universal and its parameters are government regulations. Therefore, it is imperative for the government to support the industry right now. 

Palm oil companies have shown ample commitment to being more transparent and pursuing sustainable goals, he said. 

"The bigger palm oil companies have already adopted measures to tackle the human rights issues they face, but we have yet to see a large number of smaller companies doing so," Marzuki said.

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