Greenpeace cautious Indonesian gov't on new palm oil sustainability claim

18:24, June 25, 2010      

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International environment campaigner organization, Greenpeace, expressed on Friday its fear that the new Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification initiative demands nothing more than legal compliance from companies and will not tackle deforestation for palm oil expansion.

In its statement it said that the existing concessions granted for palm oil and other commodities like pulp and paper do not fall under the Indonesian President's recently announced moratorium.

"To develop a sustainable palm oil industry, the Indonesian government first needs to halt the ongoing clearance of peatlands and forests. For the ISPO to be truly a "sustainable" certification system, it must be preceded by a Presidential decree placing a moratorium on existing, as well as future concessions.

With the moratorium, the ISPO certificate can guarantee that deforestation is not part of the Indonesian palm oil supply chain, " said Joko Arif, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner.

In the last months several multinationals, including Unilever and Nestle have suspended their contracts with Indonesia's biggest palm oil producer Sinar Mas, following Greenpeace reports about illegal forest clearance.

Greenpeace said that the Sinar Mas group is responsible for large scale forest clearance through both their palm oil arm (GAR), and their pulp and paper arm (APP).

The Ministry of Agriculture responded to these contract cancellations by announcing the development of the new ISPO certification scheme.

"The process for establishing these standards has also been non- transparent. There has been no stakeholder participation, despite Government promises to the contrary. Furthermore, although it claims to be a standard for sustainable palm oil, it appears to be mere legal compliance. The ISPO standard must be amended to stop the conversion of peatlands and forest into palm oil plantations and the process must include meaningful stakeholder participation. Otherwise it is merely a "smokescreen" to try to convince the international business community that the problem of Indonesia's deforestation is being dealt with," Arif pointed out.

"After President Yudhoyono's recent moratorium announcement and international markets demanding deforestation free products, the Indonesian government and industry has a unique opportunity to clear the bad reputation of Indonesia's palm oil. The ISPO can be a part of the solution, but the deforestation needs to stop first, " Arif said.

Source: Xinhua


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