Bali Hosts International Conference on Oil Palm, Environment

WWF-Indonesia, CIRAD research institute and PT SMART Tbk held the fourth International Conference on Oil Palm and Environment (ICOPE) in Bali, on February 12-14, 2014.

The theme of ICOPE 2014 “Oil Palm Cultivation: Becoming a Model for Tomorrow’s Sustainable Agriculture”, WWF-Indonesia said in a statement posted on its website, Monday.

Among key topics of discussion were land use and deforestation, green house gas emission, smallholders as well as palm oil certification standards, “There is no doubt that palm oil industry provides benefits for Indonesia, such as economic and social development. But it is beyond doubt that unsustainable practices in palm oil industry lead to negative impacts,” said WWF-Indonesia Conservation Director Nazir Foead.

Last year WWF released “Palming off a National Park” report conveying indication of illegal oil palm supply to global market and impact of irresponsible palm oil production to Tesso Nilo National Park and forest complex.

“Unsustainable practices like the one we found in Riau shall not be repeated,” Nazir said as quoted in the statement.

Palm oil industry is one of the most lucrative industries in Indonesia where 4.5% of 2012 GDP came from this commodity. But environmental concern always loom the industry, as expansion for palm oil plantations become the main driver for deforestation and the loss of biodiversity in Indonesia.

Trend shows increasing demand of palm oil for biofuels in addition to its traditional function for foods and hygiene products.

With the continuously growing global and domestic demand, there is urgency for sustainable agribusiness practices, according to WWF-Indonesia.

Participants included at the conference were scholars, and representatives of research institutes, companies, governments, as well as NGOs.

WWF-Indonesia hoped that the international conference with participants from 19 countries will be able to offer solutions to palm oil problems.

“Through ICOPE, experts and players in palm oil industry can share their experiences and best practices so their positive achievements can be adopted elsewhere. With innovation and implementation of best practices, it is possible for Indonesia palm oil industry to achieve its target of 40 million tons of palm oil in 2020 without expansion to natural forest,” stated Nazir.

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