Sustainable food production, including palm oil, has become a priority in Indonesia and other countries. This comes at the same time as the world aims to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius due to the worsening effects of global warming.
Indonesia submitted its Enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in September 2022, one of only 29 countries to submit Enhanced NDCs before COP27 in November this year. The world’s largest archipelagic country remains committed to reducing its emissions by up to 43.2 percent, conditionally, by 2030.
“Indonesia has taken significant steps in the land use sector to reduce emissions by instituting a moratorium on new permits and improvement of the governance of primary natural forests and peatlands and by reducing deforestation and forest degradation, restoring ecosystem functions, as well as sustainable management of forests,” writes the Enhanced NDC report issued in the same month.
The country and the world’s commitments to reduce emissions have become more urgent as the need for climate action increases. These commitments are important not just for climate reasons, they are important for the world’s other crisis too: global food insecurity.
How has sustainable food production – including palm oil – become crucial in building climate-resilient food supply chains and commodities?
The role of palm oil in the changing climate
Dr Götz Martin, our Director of Sustainability and Strategic Projects, says the palm oil industry is “very well-positioned on all these fronts”.
“We have been a leader in the ‘no deforestation’ movement globally compared to other commodities,” he says.
“Global humankind cannot continue to clear forests and plant more in a relatively inefficient way. We need to use less and make sure the area we are using is very efficient.”
Global statistics portal Statista found that palm oil usage around the world throughout 2021/2022 reached more than 73 million metric tonnes.
GAR’s role in achieving climate-smart food systems
Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) was the first palm company to implement a Forest Conservation Policy in 2011. We have been working on improving our own sustainable practices and those in the palm oil industry over the last two decades.
Palm plantations use every aspect of the plant, including all waste generated from processing fresh fruit bunches into CPO. GAR takes this biomass and puts it back into the land as fertilisers.
It benefits the environment in various ways: increasing soil carbon levels over time and improving soil textures, moisture and biodiversity. This is close to what some scientists describe as “regenerative agriculture”.
In addition, we set aside at least 79,900 hectares of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas and High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests under our Forest Conservation Policy. We have also revegetated more than 1,100 hectares of land as part of our peat ecosystem rehabilitation project.
Under GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP), we require suppliers to adhere to our environmental management, social and community, industrial relations and supply chain commitments. Our experience in implementing these commitments within our own operations enables us to share our learnings with our suppliers to help them implement these practices in their own operations.
This year, we joined 13 other agribusinesses in endorsing the Agriculture Sector Roadmap to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a cross-industry initiative comprising palm, soy and cattle producers that outlines plans to reduce emissions linked to land use change.
Within the roadmap are three pillars of activity: accelerate supply chain action to reduce emissions from land use change, drive the transformation of commodity-producing landscapes and support forest-positive sector transformation.
“We are one of the biggest palm oil producers and traders, so we have a significant direct impact on the global supply chain,” Dr Götz adds.
Eventually, he says that one needs to adjust the production side of things if a company wants to be a climate-smart food producer.
“From the climate-smart perspective, it is really important to anticipate adaptation. Climate change will come, like it or not,” he says.
GAR plays an active role in ensuring the sustainable transformation of the palm oil supply chain. Learn more.
If you want to learn more about GAR’s commitment to sustainability, read here.