Shared responsibility to enhance sustainable palm oil uptake in Indonesia

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a not-for-profit organisation that unites stakeholders from the different sectors of the palm oil industry, has co-hosted a virtual event with CNN Indonesia focusing on the new rules of RSPO’s Shared Responsibility (SR), a concept that aims to balance the scale of sustainable palm oil production with sustainable palm oil uptake in Indonesia.

With uptake of sustainable palm oil in Indonesia at just over 13% as of June this year, panellist from RSPO, Golden Agri Resources (GAR), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia, and the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) came together to discuss the key challenges and opportunities in driving market transformation in the oil palm producing country.

Tiur Rumondang, country director, Indonesia, RSPO, explained: “Over the past 14 years or so, we have seen impressive growth in sustainable palm oil production from our members but demand has not quite been on par with supply, and there were beliefs that buyers did not adhere to the same standards applicable to producers because there were no set rules in place.

“With the concept of shared responsibility, we want to encourage greater mobilisation of efforts among all stakeholders in the supply chain to achieve market transformation and to reach RSPO’s shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.”

A member of RSPO is GAR, which has 270,000 hectares of RSPO certified oil palm plantation and a production capacity of up to 1.3 million tonnes of crude palm oil. In addition to their RSPO commitments, GAR has been inviting independent factories and farmers that are not part of their supply chain to implement similar policies on sustainability.

“This is becoming a significant burden only shouldered by oil palm farmers. We need to make sustainability actions a shared responsibility by all,” said Agus Purnomo, managing director for sustainability and strategic stakeholder engagement at GAR. “We have plantation data on around 80% of our suppliers. This data is important to assure our consumers that they are buying from plantation and factories that are committed for sustainability.”

Tulus Abadi, chairman of YLKI, added that the majority of consumers in Indonesia are not aware of the use of palm oil in common supermarket products, and said: “Most Indonesian consumers only know palm oil as a cooking oil, and the idea of sustainable consumption is not a major concern for Indonesian consumers. This happens because there is no education from industry players to consumers relating to product knowledge, and there are no clear policies for this matter.

“We encourage the cooking oil industry to ensure that cooking oil products are environmentally friendly, both from the upstream to the downstream. It must ensure that there are no violations of labour rights and human right among other key sustainability criteria.”