JAKARTA – Several civilian groups are questioning the government’s move to stop consulting the public when preparing a presidential regulation to strengthen the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification system.
ILLUSTRATION. In 2009, the Indonesian government created a national sustainability platform called Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). Since then ISPO certification has been mandatory for palm oil mills, estates and suppliers in the country.
“We have already sent two letters to the coordinating ministry for the economy, to query them on the latest development and whether they can share the latest draft,” said Mardi Minangsari, from the Civil Society Representative for ISPO Strengthening
Both letters, the latest one sent in December, have remained unanswered, Minangsari told The Palm Scribe in a telephone interview on Monday (29/01/2018).
Since September 2017, the government has suddenly stopped inviting civil society groups and other stakeholders to any discussion regarding the draft presidential regulation. They have instead held closed meetings and not shared any developments that have taken place, Minangsari said.
“It is important that the government not be too hasty (in coming up with the draft) and that it seeks input from multiple stakeholders,” Minangsari said.
She pointed to the Indonesian Civil Society Groups’ Position Paper on Sustainable Palm Oil Industry in Indonesia released in March 2017 that said that the ISPO certification was already suffering from low acceptance from the market, because of its low credibility and accountability in implementation, exacerbated by weak law enforcement on various violations.
“We, as the representatives of Indonesian civil society who have concerns on sustainable palm oil industry fully support the GoI’s spirit to redesign the certification system of the palm oil industry in Indonesia. We believe, however, that the positive spirit has to be operationalized through participative, inclusive, transparent, and accountable processes,” the position paper said.
Minangsari said that what global consumers wanted in terms of sustainable palm oil production is that it meets the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) standards and therefore the ISPO, if it wanted to be accepted, should be carefully prepared and seek not only input from the various stakeholders but also lead to a national public consultation.
It was the government, in this case the coordinating ministry for the economy, which first sought input from stakeholders, including representatives of the civil societies in the palm oil sector, in May 2016.
It, however, halted the consultation by December 2016. After repeated urgings and the issuance of the position paper, the coordinating ministry then resumed the consultation process again in March 201 but stopped it again in September.
There has already been four regional public consultations held — in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua — and the results led to a recommendation on the ISPO certification principle, criteria and system that would be included in the planned draft. A national public consultation had also been planned for the draft.