Civil Society Groups of the Land of Papua and North Maluku
“The Certification System Is Not Just a Sustainable Palm Label”

PALM PLANTATION INDUSTRY has penetrated the Land of Papua and North Maluku since 1982 and its expansion continues to this day. As in various regions in Indonesia, the palm oil industry of Tanah Papua and North Maluku is not free from various problems of practices that are not environmentally friendly, prone to land grabbing, violations of rights, both to workers and surrounding communities, and social and cultural changes. Urgent fundamental changes or reforms in oil palm plantation management have emerged, both in terms of law enforcement, as well as the establishment of more stringent new laws.

The Indonesian Government’s policy regarding the sustainability and improvement of oil palm governance began with the initiation of the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) in 2011. The ISPO revision took place in 2015, at which time a number of reports and research revealed the Indonesian oil palm industry supply chain that was not resolved environmental problems, so that various parties ask Indonesia as the largest producer of crude palm oil (CPO) to pay special attention to ecological aspects. Since the adoption of the ISPO as of March 2011 to February 2016, there have been 225 ISPO certificates that have been granted, covering an area of ​​1.4 million ha area (the status is still the same as of February 2017), and certified CPO reaches 5.9 million tons per year. Issuance of ISPO certification increased significantly in the span of one year, February 2016-2017, namely 290% of the average percentage of issuance, ISPO certificate per year since 2011.

In general, the conflicts of oil palm plantations in Indonesia are caused because they are not used the principle of FPIC in land acquisition or all investment plans. What happens is that landowners are not involved in the discussion of employment contracts and matters related to survival. For example there is no good socialization process. Management only approaches the welfare lure and this is a fraudulent process in the socialization process. And even worse, in the process of land acquisition, it tends to use separatist issues to manipulate situations that allow security from the security forces to guarantee investment. Casuistically, there are many practices of repression at gunpoint in the Land of Papua and North Maluku. 

Not only Papua, the oil palm plantation industry also targets small island areas in North Maluku. Many findings where local communities living in coastal areas and around forests in the concession area lost their productivity sector in the form of nutmeg and clove plantations, which are mainstay commodities. Villagers who in fact work as subsistence farmers also lose access to farming and utilize raw materials from forests that have been released. The ecological impact of development bias on this aspect of space severely disrupts the fisheries sector or the livelihoods of the residents and damage to coral reefs because the boundaries of the land clearing area are adjacent to the coastal ecosystem of the island. Therefore, it should be taken into consideration and needs to be accommodated in the draft PERPRES related to ISPO.

However, the ISPO has not made any significant changes. The pace of ISPO certification is inversely proportional to the real improvement in the governance of the oil palm industry with the continued main issues including:

  • Legality concerning permits for Cultivation Right (HGU) / Plantation Business Permit (IUP) in forest areas in relation to the Provincial Spatial Planning (RTRWP);
  • Issuance of permits through non-procedural practices (such as corruption and gratification);
  • Toxic and Hazardous (B3) waste permit;
  • Planting in river banks;
  • Application of important ecosystem protection policies;
    Protection of high conservation value (HCV) areas and high carbon stock (HCS) areas;
  • There is a pattern of cooperation that is applied inhumanely, so that the bargaining position of indigenous peoples as partners is increasingly weak in the face of the oil palm industry;
    The failure of the welfare and fulfillment of the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • The rise of tenurial conflicts in the development of oil palm plantations.
  • The effectiveness of the policy of delaying licenses of primary forests and peatlands.
  • Problems with transparency in processing profits and losses from the oil palm plantation sector.
  • The impact of oil palm plantations has led to cases of abuse and violence.

The issuance of ISPO certification is not necessarily accompanied by improvements in the governance of the oil palm industry. This then received a response from the Indonesian Government. The momentum for improving palm oil governance has been opened through a statement by the President of the Republic of Indonesia on April 14, 2016, namely a commitment to implement a palm moratorium (KSP, 2016). The hope is that this momentum will become an opportunity for the people of Indonesia to fix the Indonesian palm oil industry to prioritize aspects of environmental sustainability, empowerment, welfare of farmers and oil palm workers and be more competitive. 

In June 2016, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs formed the ISPO Strengthening Team through the Secretary Decree of the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs Number 54 of 2016 concerning the Strengthening Team of the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification System (ISPO Certification) with the main activities in developing ISPO systems that have more credibility. The main objective of forming the team is to make fundamental improvements to the certification and standardization system of the sustainable palm oil industry in Indonesia. As of the end of December 2016, the ISPO Strengthening Team had held a series of limited discussions with stakeholders to encourage and formulate the ISPO redesign focus. Since May 2017, the ISPO Strengthening Team has begun a series of public consultations in five regions. The first public consultation is in the Sumatra region, second in the Kalimantan region, third in the Sulawesi region and fourth in the Land of Papua and North Maluku region.

Taking into account the ongoing ISPO redesign and Presidential Regulation on Indonesia’s Sustainable Palm Oil Plantation (ISPO Presidential Regulation), we are representatives of Palm Oil and Peasant Organizations in the Tanah Papua and North Maluku Region emphasizing written inputs. These inputs can be read through documents that can be downloaded here (versi bahasa) and here (versi english)