TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesia's major palm oil producers, along with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN), signed a pledge which affirmed their commitment to sustainable production practices at the United Nations (UN) Climate Summit in New York on Thursday, September 25, 2014.
The signing of the pledge by Wilmar, Golden Agri Resources, Asian Agri, Cargill and KADIN - witnessed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was in New York on his last tour of duty before stepping down in October - affirmed the signatories' commitment to advance Indonesian sustainable palm oil by improving environmental stewardship, promoting cooperation to develop policies, legal, and regulatory framework for the implementation of the pledge, expand social benefits and improve the competitiveness of Indonesian palm oil.
The pledge has been welcomed by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia, Dr. Efransjah, who sees the signing as a major step forward towards achieving a more sustainable and equitable future for palm oil production.
"Amidst the grim pictures in the market of how oil palm development has been impacting forests and people, WWF believes that the commitments presented today by the top palm oil leaders of industry and KADIN sheds light to the global market that Indonesia is seriously making step-wise journey towards sustainability in the ways palm oil is produced," said Efransjah in a statement released by WWF on Thursday, September 25, 2014.
"We recognize the magnitude of the challenge to implement these commitments and it requires the support of other producers,environmental stewardship organizations, traders, customers, governments, and local communities, if it is to be successful," Efransjah added.
Palm oil is one of Indonesia’s primary exports, whose derivatives could be found in a wide range of products - from shampoos, ice creams, lipsticks, margarines, to cooking oil. The industry employs rural communities and small farmers in producer countries, and a more equitable method of production is hoped to bring more benefits to these communities - who are often left at the margins of society due to poverty.
"It is estimated that in Indonesia over four millions of smallholders farmers’ livelihood depends on this commodity," said Irwan Gunawan, the Strategy Leader of Agriculture & Fisheries Market Transformation from WWF-Indonesia.
"Boycotting or finding substitution for palm oil is not a way out, as it may potentially exacerbate the impacts beyond the commodity. The challenge lies in balancing our interests in people, planet and profit. WWF substantially believes that this pledge is on the right track in finding the balance," said Irwan.