Last month, on November 26, 2019, The Government of the Netherlands signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the Government of Malaysia for a new cooperation on sustainable palm oil between the two countries with special attention to smallholders. The cooperation focuses on improved livelihoods, climate change adaptation and mitigation (greenhouse gas reduction). The signing marks the start of the Malaysian National Initiative for Sustainable Climate Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NI-SCOPS) implemented by Solidaridad and IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative.
NI-SCOPS has been designed to provide support to communities, local governments and companies that want to protect and restore landscapes in which oil palms are an important economic activity. Improved productivity and incomes of smallholders and workers is envisioned to go hand in hand with protection and restoration of forests and water. The national and state governments, that are committed to contribute to the sustainable development goals and the Paris agreement, regard NI-SCOPS as a new way of international cooperation, complementing the RSPO voluntary market initiative.
From 2020 onwards, NI-SCOPS is envisioned to move to the implementation phase, supporting smallholder-focused landscape interventions at the subnational level in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. In each landscape, Solidaridad and IDH will catalyze sustainable development by offering technical assistance to farming communities and their workforce, and at the same time engage with policy makers and authorities to strengthen natural resource management and restoration efforts. Package deals (or ‘Production – Protection – Inclusion pacts, as they are called by IDH) are agreed on that seek external (donor, market, consumer) support to invest in sustainable development options, while strengthening local government capacity to develop and enforce natural resource management policies.
Next to Malaysia, similar National Initiatives will be implemented in Indonesia, the biggest oil palm producer, and Ghana and Nigeria as important net palm oil importers in Africa.