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Decent Living and Sustainability for Palm Oil Communities Indonesia

The Head of Kapuas Hulu District in Indonesia has stated that palm oil companies should commit toward village development through CSR and sustainable business practices.

Decent Living and Sustainability for Palm Oil Communities Indonesia

On Thursday, 26 September 2019, PENABULU, one of ICCO’s partners in Indonesia, together with the Kapuas Hulu District Government conducted an event with the theme: “Developing Framework for Decent Living and Sustainability in Villages of the Kapuas Hulu District”. This initiative was supported by the European Union and ICCO Cooperation. The multi-stakeholder event was attended by local government and village agencies, the private sector and civil society organizations from national to international levels.

Sustainable and decent living

The mission of ICCO’s project “Responsible and Sustainable Business in Indonesian Palm Oil Plantations” (RESBOUND) is to support sustainable and decent living in the villages in and around palm oil plantations through a series of activities including: promoting sustainable palm oil production; strengthening the available multi-stakeholder forum(s) at village level; and to develop and implement integrated guidelines concerning Communities and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCSR).
“This socialization workshop is intended to build synergy and to synchronize the government, with companies, civil society organizations, and the village’s agendas. By synchronizing, we believe that decent lives for farmers and village residents can be achieved. We expect RESBOUND to contribute in accelerating the implementation of the District Head’s Regulation No. 13 of 2019 on acceleration, scaling up status and resilience of villages,” said Mr. Budi Susilo, the Deputy Director of PENABULU.

Working hand-in-hand

In his notes, the Head of Kapuas Hulu District admitted that there are still challenges that need to be addressed by palm oil companies, particularly forest fires and pollution caused by the transportation of palm oil. He requested palm oil companies to produce responsibly and sustainably. Furthermore, he asserted that companies and villages needed to commit to the development of sustainable and decent lives for the farmers and residents of the villages in their areas.
In response to Mr. Susilo’s remarks, the District Head commented that the “palm oil sector is a strategic sector for our district. We warmly welcome the ideas presented by this [RESBOUND] project. Palm oil companies operating in Kapuas Hulu need to work hand-in-hand with villages through their CSR programs, and to synchronize their activities with the village development plans, such as improving basic social services. For the village heads, CSR from companies should be integrated within village development budget. If you are yet doing it, district government will assist. Further, village development plans needs to be responsive and should involve village residents, you don’t create the plan yourself”.

The importance of decent rural living

According to the Indonesia Country Coordinator for ICCO Cooperation, Ms. Kiswara Santi, palm oil in Indonesia faces various problems including questions on responsible production and the effects of the Indonesian palm oil price in the market. Responsible production constitutes a wide range of measures, such as providing a decent living wage for workers; fair prices for palm oil workers; and developing CSR programs that are responsive to the needs of the communities and can address the impacts of palm oil production (i.e. access to livelihoods and clean water). She says, “Through the RESBOUND project, the consortium chooses to work together with villages, as they are the source of energy and food including palm oil. Yet, there is little to no public attention on the state of their welfare. Our hope is that by addressing responsible palm oil production through joint efforts with companies, governments and communities, we can contribute to achieving decent living for the villages in and around the plantation areas.”

In moving forward from this meeting, it was agreed by all parties in attendance that regular meetings will be established to ensure that programs are aligned with developing decent rural living for the villages in Kapuas Hulu.