SEI Policy Briefs Recommend Changes to Indonesian and EU Policies on Palm Oil
16 October 2012: The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has released two policy briefs that examine the local impacts of palm oil production in Indonesia, and the European Union's (EU) Renewable Energy Directive's (RED) ability to support sustainable palm oil production.
The first brief, titled "The Oil Palm Sector: Community Grievances and Water Governance in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia," finds that local communities in the Central Kalimantan Province have severe grievances related to the pollution of local rivers, lakes and aquifers, deforestation, and the drying of community land and wells. The policy brief argues that political conflict between different levels of government over forest resources have led to the improper implementation of existing regulations, which has resulted in the rapid expansion of oil palm production in the province. The brief also notes that environmental agencies at district and province levels are unable to provide reliable data on how the use of water for palm oil plantations impacts community water supply, and on the sources of the pollution. The brief further recommends to address the regulatory gaps in landscape and river basin management.
The second brief, titled "How the EU Can Revise its Biofuel Policies to Promote "Sustainable" Palm Oil Cultivation in Southeast Asia," argues that the EU-RED's sustainability criteria for biofuel production are insufficient to ensure sustainable palm oil production in Southeast Asia as they are not adapted to local socio-ecological realities. The brief highlights that the use of voluntary certification systems to show compliance with the RED's sustainability criteria favors large-scale industrial production due to the large costs of certification for smallholder farmers. The brief also notes that the RED tends to promote more centralized certification schemes over multistakeholder ones that take into account local impacts of palm oil production. The brief further recommends including stricter and mandatory criteria for water resource and land use management to overcome the RED's current dominant focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. [SEI Press Release] [Publication: The Oil Palm Sector: Community Grievances and Water Governance in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia] [SEI Press Release] [Publication: How the EU Can Revise its Biofuel Policies to Promote 'Sustainable' Palm Oil Cultivation in Southeast Asia]