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Indonesia’s palm oil ban delayed by conflicting interests: SIIA Dep. Director quoted in Eco-Business

11 Jul Indonesia’s palm oil ban delayed by conflicting interests: SIIA Dep. Director quoted in Eco-Business

Ms. Fawziah Selamat, Deputy Director (Sustainability), Singapore Institute of International Affairs was quoted in an article by Eco-Business on Indonesia’s palm oil sector.

Can the palm oil sector do more with less to save Indonesia’s forests?
by Tim Daubach, Eco-Business

More than two years after Indonesia announced a moratorium on expanding oil plantation concessions, efforts to put the ban into effect are being held up by several conflicts of interests, according to Fawziah Selamat, deputy director sustainability, at thinktank Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).

“There has been a lot of lobbying against the moratorium by palm oil companies,” she told Eco-Business. “At the same time, non-government organisations have criticised drafts of the moratorium saying two years [for the ban to take effect] is not long enough to turn around large-scale deforestation.”

She said that the moratorium—which was first announced by Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo following the 2015 haze crisis—is likely to have been delayed because no party has been satisfied with the drafts.

Southeast Asia’s worst haze crisis on record, the 2015 calamity, resulted in an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in the region due to smoke exposure caused by slash-and-burn land clearing to make way for palm oil plantations. That year, the haze released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the emissions of the European Union.

The decree is an effort to curb deforestation and climate change while encouraging plantation owners to increase their productivity and grow more using their existing lands, said Dr Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning, at the 5th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources. Themed Climate Action: Seeding Green Growth and Resilience in ASEAN, the event was hosted by SIIA in May this year.

Once signed, the moratorium will not only freeze new permits in the world’s biggest palm oil-producing country, but also mandate a review of existing concessions as well as those currently being processed.

That the act has yet to take effect may indicate that it has moved down the agenda of the current Jokowi administration, especially since the government has been able to stop the onset of major haze episodes since 2015, Selamat told Eco-Business. In February this year, new palm oil permits were issued in Papua.

Selamat also explained that the moratorium had been expected to take effect before Indonesia’s regional elections at the end of June. This would have effectively prevented incumbents from issuing palm oil permits, which have been known to be linked to corruption, to either fund their political campaigns or gain favour with influential business people, she said.

Full article: Can the palm oil sector do more with less to save Indonesia’s forests? [Eco-Business, 10 July 2018]

Photo credit: “Palm Oil Production” by oneVillage Initiative is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0