The Indonesian government is going to hold more public forums to collect input on a new presidential decree to manage sustainable palm oil production. (Antara Photo/Budi Candra Setya)

Gov't to Hold More Public Forums on New Palm Oil Regulation


JUNE 16, 2017

Jakarta. The Indonesian government is going to hold more public forums to collect input on a plan to manage its Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil policy, or ISPO, using the stricter regulation of a presidential decree, an Economic Affairs Coordinating Ministry official said on Thursday (15/06).

"We've already drafted the decree and held the public forums in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. Hopefully after Idul Fitri, we will have one in Papua," deputy minister assistant Wilistra Danny said during a discussion hosted by WWF Indonesia in Jakarta.

"We want to hear input from all stakeholders on what they expect from the regulation," he added.

ISPO is a national certification policy for palm oil companies introduced by the Indonesian government in 2011 to make palm oil production more sustainable.

For four years the policy was ruled by the Ministerial Regulation No. 19/2011, which was then revised into the Ministerial Regulation No. 11/2015. Both were issued by the Agriculture Minister.

The government has been pushing to regulate the ISPO under a presidential decree since mid-2016 and wanted to have it ratified earlier this year so it has a stronger legal instrument to manage the policy.

Indonesia also wants to be seen as putting in more effort to keep palm oil production sustainable. In the past it has often been criticized for being too lenient on unsustainable palm oil practices that lead to deforestation or land disputes with locals.

However, the government has opted for a slow, careful multi-stakeholder approach on the issue and attempted to incorporate as much input on the new regulation from corporations, NGOs, civil society organizations, academics and farmers through the public forums.

The forums have been held in Pekanbaru in the Riau Islands, Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan and Palu in Central Sulawesi. The next forum is scheduled to take place in Sorong, West Papua, in the second week of July.

"We hope to hear more input before we host another forum on a national scale to which we will invite embassy representatives from countries where our palm oil is sold," Wilistra said.

The forums have had a positive response, particularly from NGOs and farmers who have praised them as an inclusive way of making regulations.

One of the changes to be included in the new regulation is to set in place an independent monitoring system managed by non-government officials, be they NGOs, CSOs, practitioners or individuals.

"[Independent monitoring] is one of the differences between the current ISPO regulation and the proposed presidential decree. The organizations or individuals responsible for monitoring can be based anywhere and are given the power to oversee any aspect of palm oil production, from drafting regulations, certification to whether a company has complied with the regulations," he said.

Child labor is one of the critical points that often crop up in the forums.

"Some companies claim children often help their parents work at plantations after school. Whatever the truth is, it shows the urgency of properly defining what should be categorized as child labor," Wilistra said.