IPOP should neither be uncritically accepted nor rejected out of hand, says minister

(foresthints.news) - Responding to pressure from a number of circles for the dissolution of Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), Indonesias Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, said that all of the elements of IPOP should be gone through in detail first, and that this process was still ongoing. Thus, she said, it was not yet the time to either fully accept or reject IPOP.

"Do not uncritically reject or accept IPOP," the Minister told foresthints.news on Wednesday (Feb 24) in Jakarta.

The minister said that she had asked her colleague, the agriculture minister, about the pressure to dissolve IPOP.

"According to the minister of agriculture, the pressure to dissolve IPOP had emerged during consultations with the palm-oil players, some of whom were IPOP signatories, as a result of the difficulties and problems they had encountered on the ground, especially as regards the smallholders who form part of the supply chains of these IPOP signatories," the Minister explained.

She said that her discussions with the agriculture minister had not focused on the dissolution of IPOP, but rather on the Indonesian government's efforts to get to grips with the details of all IPOP elements and their implementation on the ground.

"We will study it on a detailed, case-by-case basis in line with the supply chains of the IPOP signatories in various provinces, particularly those that involve smallholders," the Minister said.

She stressed that the Indonesian government was well aware that the supply chains of palm oil companies needed to become increasingly transparent. Further, she said that this necessity should be respected as it was a question of sustainable business practices.

"We in the government fully understand why palm oil companies doing business on the international market need transparent supply chains. But do not forget that the supply chains of palm oil companies, including IPOP signatories, must also respect Indonesian laws and regulations, particularly those that relate to smallholders," she said.

The Minister reminded both IPOP signatories and non-signatories operating in Indonesia to not make their own rules and punish smallholders as part of the process of cleaning up their supply chains based on their own policies.

"Both IPOP signatories and non-signatories must work together to support the national agenda of improving the welfare of smallholders. If the companies have feedback for us, please give it. But do not attempt to regulate. The authority to do that is vested in our government, and not in the private sector or anyone else," the Minister stressed.

She said that this was why the Indonesian government needed to address the question of IPOP and supply chains involving suppliers and smallholders in Indonesia.

"I've expressed my concerns to the coordinating minister for the economy, the minister of agriculture and the head of Bappenas (National Development Planning Board), namely, that it is important to straighten out the governing procedures related to all elements of IPOP, to be detailed on a regional or on a case-by-case basis. Neither uncritically accepting IPOP nor rejecting it out of hand are the correct approaches, the Minister concluded.