Responsible palm oil as catalyst for Green Growth

IDH has been working closely with palm oil companies (including PT PP London Sumatra, a subsidiary of IndoAgri) in South Sumatra, to focus on RSPO certification for 3,144 palm oil smallholders on 6,141 ha. Farmers have been trained in good agricultural practices over the past three years. This increases in supply of certified palm oil, enables them to offer their buyers more cost effectively 100%  responsible palm oil.

The independent smallholders are now able to produce responsible palm oil and sell it either to IndoAgri and or sell their certificates to RSPO Palmtrace. The work of IDH together with governments, private sectors and CSOs in South Sumatra will help the region to balance its commodity production and forest protection based on South Sumatra Green Growth Plan (GGP) that IDH and the governor of South Sumatra signed in 2017.

South Sumatra was the first province in Indonesia that together with IDH initiated a GGP as their strategic provincial sustainable development plan balancing economic growth with environmental protection.

Since then GGP has been replicated to the other provinces in Indonesia such as in West Kalimantan, Jambi, Aceh, Papua and West Papua. IDH (supported by ICRAF) followed up the GGP of South Sumatra by mainstreaming it into their regional medium-term development plan (RPJMD) and strengthening governments’ capacity to operationalize the green growth strategy in the coming years.

This GGP is a foundation for building a Verified Sourcing Area (VSA) readiness pilot in Sembilang landscape (covering Banyuasin and Musi Banyuasin districts).

IDH aims to conserve 80,000 hectares of HCV/HCS forests and peatland, restore 20,000 hectares of forest and peatland, and increase sustainable agricultural production on 33,000 hectares that will improve the livelihoods of 9,000 smallholder farmers and community members in and around Sembilang-Berbak National Park.

Total land cover:  8.7 million ha
Land designated as forest area: 3.5 million ha
Land with actual forest vegetation: 1.3 million ha
Land designated as peat: 1.4 million ha
Ecological features: Rainforest, peatland, home to
Main causes of forest loss: Deforestation for commodity production, forest fires (eg 2015
forest fire in South Sumatra and Jambi)
Major commodities: Plantation timber, palm oil, pulp and paper 

IDH has convened a green growth plan at the provincial level with accompanying multi-stakeholder coalition driving the implementation. Both the government of South Sumatra and the privates sector actors are strongly committed to the sustainable development of the province and thus the implementation of the plan.

To implement the green growth plan at the landscape level, IDH is developing PPI compacts in the areas where forest and peat protection and/or restoration will take place. We are piloting this in the district (kabupaten) of Musi Banyuasin together with the local government and companies. We aim to carry out meaningful and scientific based rehabilitation, protection and peatland best management practices. Musi Banyuasin district will become the first district in South Sumatra to be certified under the jurisdictional certification plan.

IDH links these compacts to investments in sustainable production and demand for sustainable products. We are piloting the RSPO regional sourcing scheme in South Sumatra, with wide ranging support by government, producers and supply chain companies.

IDH works at the market end, especially in Europe, to drive the uptake of the sustainably produced commodities in the landscape. Our market convening work also creates a stronger business case for the companies on the ground to produce more sustainably.
To drive the uptake of more sustainable palm oil in Europe, IDH and MVO (the Dutch Oils and Fats Industry) established the European Sustainable Palm Oil, or ESPO, project in 2015. The project was initiated to stimulate the uptake of more sustainable palm oil in Europe, and its objective is to achieve ‘100% sustainable palm oil in Europe by 2020’. ESPO works in close collaboration with various National Palm Oil Initiatives on sustainable palm oil, the RSPO and umbrella EU associations, such as Caobisco (confectionary), Fediol (refineries) and Imace (margarines), and connects to the green sourcing areas.

Outside of Europe, IDH has also set up the Palm Oil (Markets) Program in India that works to mainstream the uptake of sustainable palm oil. India is the largest consuming market of Indonesian palm oil, and consumes 13.5% of the total global production – making it one of the largest markets for the commodity. This gives India agency, as it is well positioned to demand palm oil produced in a responsible manner without deforestation risk. It is also well placed to further strengthen South-South Cooperation while providing regional stewardship for the trade of responsibly sourced commodities including palm oil.

In India, IDH’s Palm Oil Program contributes to the SDG 12 for Responsible Consumption and Production. We do this by:

  • Convening large palm oil buyers operating in India to build reporting and disclosure
  • Remaining inclusive and standard-neutral
  • Working towards influencing demand in the short term and encouraging responsibly sourced supply in the long term
  • Monitoring the uptake of responsibly sourced/sustainable palm oil
  • Building engagement with the Government of India

Read more about the program here.


Title Type Year Regions TAF
Learning from Landscapes Report 2022 Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin American Landscapes Program
IDH 2020 Annual Report: Sustainable Business Models Delivering Impact Annual Report 2021 - -
Landscapes Information Brief: IDH’s approach to sustainable landscapes Brochure 2018 - -
IDH Landscape program Brochure 2018 - -
Indonesia Landscape Factsheet Brochure 2018 - -
Conveners Guide for Building Landscape Coalitions Toolkit and guide 2017 - -

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