The Palm Scribe

ISPO Certification Needs Deadline, Firm Enforcement: Sawit Watch

Environmental watchdog Sawit Watch on Wednesday (25/3) welcomed the issuance of Presidential Regulation Number 44 of 2020 on the ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil) Certification System by stressing that there was a need for a deadline to be set for oil palm companies to get certified and for firm law enforcement.

ISPO Certification on palm oil
Photo: AFP

“If the government deems that the ISPO certification is important, then it needs to decide on a target for ISPO certification by setting a deadline for oil palm companies to get ISPO certified, “said Sawit Watch Executive Director Inda Fatinaware.

“This should also be accompanied by firmer sanctions, for example permit revocation or other more serious consequences, not only administrative sanctions as stipulated in the presidential regulation,” she added in a press release sent to The Palm Scribe.

In 2015, the government required all oil palm companies, private or state-owned, to get ISPO certified but by December 2019, only 621 such certificates had been issued – 607 to companies, 10 to independent cooperatives, and four to plasma scheme village cooperatives, covering a total of 5.45 million hectares.

So far, smallholders, private or belonging to plasma schemes, who account for more than 40 percent of Indonesia’s oil palm plantations have not been under the obligation to get ISPO certified but the presidential regulation now required them to also seek ISPO certification.

“ISPO certification, according to us, is not an innovation in efforts to improve the management of oil palm plantations which covers up to 22.2 million hectares in Indonesia, and the number of conflicts in oil palm plantations that have reached 822 cases. The main premise of this ISPO certification system is that companies must abide by the laws, regulations and policies. If the implementation of the policy and law enforcement proceed well, the implementation of ISPO would then become irrelevant,” Inda said.

She also said that the presidential regulations did recognize the existence of oil palm labor and they have also been considered in the new regulation.

“But regrettably, the Manpower Ministry was not positioned as an important party in this presidential regulation. This is reflected in the absence of the Manpower Ministry in the ISPO Advisory Board,” Inda said, adding that the government must be more serious in positioning oil palm plantations as a strategic party in the presidential regulation because almost 10 million people work as oil palm labor and their livelihood depended on this sector.

The presidential regulation contained an invitation for various sides to take part in the implementation of the certification by providing input, notifying any deviation or abuse as well as updating with the latest information but Inda said that the process and how the public can participate were not specified in detail. She said she also hoped that whoever from the civil society gets the opportunity to sit in the ISPO committee, should be someone who really understand the conditions on the field and prioritize the rights of people such as smallholders and oil palm labor.

Sawit Watch, Inda said, also looked at the matter of transparency which she said was not elaborated in the regulation. Elements of information openness to the public regarding ongoing and the results of certifications were also very limited so that the role of the public and civil society groups in making sure whether the policy proceeded effectively or not, will be minimal, she said.

On March 13, 2020, President Joko Widodo issued Presidential Regulation Number 44 of 2020 on the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Plantation Certification System, better known as the Presidential Regulation on ISPO Certification System and this regulation was made into law on March 16, 2020.

The scope arranged by the policy covers among other, the ISPO certification, its institutions, acceptance by the market, competitiveness and participation, guidance and supervision as well as sanctions.

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