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Campaigning for Deforestation Free Biofuels in Indonesia

A coalition of local civil society organizations (CSOs) in Indonesia called Koalisi Clean Biofuel for All has been formed to campaign for biofuel production with no negative impact on the environment and local communities. The coalition was conceived during a meeting of Indonesian CSOs organized by Aidenvironment in October 2019. The campaign slogan is “Biofuels must be clean, environmentally friendly, and just.”

The initiative is part of an NICFI-funded project called Domestic Market Transformation, which aims to increase transparency, accountability, and sustainability in Indonesia’s local palm oil industry. The organizations in the coalition work in the areas of community development, human rights in business, and forest protection and are located across Indonesia, from Bogor on Java to Sumatera and Kalimantan.

The October meeting organized by Aidenvironment was an effective forum for sharing experiences  with monitoring companies for compliance with “no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation” (NDPE) policies, and for sharing stakeholder engagement techniques such as campaigning, media partnerships, and advocating for more sustainable policies.

Biofuel and NDPE policies
In the face of economic pressures and EU markets curbing the use of palm oil, the Indonesian government has approved a mandatory fuel blend consisting of 30% biofuel called “B30,” which was introduced at the beginning of 2020. This is the highest required biofuel blend in the world. The stated purpose of the order is both economic and environmental (emission reduction through clean energy), but it overlooks the forest fires, deforestation, and exploitation of plantation workers that are still rampant in palm oil production – the most widely used material for biodiesel and the largest driver of deforestation in Indonesia.

These long-standing challenges are exacerbated by the lack of awareness, adoption, and implementation of NDPE policies in local supply chains, where the stricter zero-deforestation measures of international companies have not been adopted. As state-owned biodiesel distributer Pertamina was tasked to procure 8.3 million kiloliters of biodiesel, research by Aidenvironment found that 25% of Pertamina’s suppliers do not have an NDPE policy. Under these circumstances, the foreseen negative impacts of increased biodiesel production drove the CSOs to consolidate their efforts and campaign for clean biofuel.

Coalition for clean biofuel
Since its launch in October 2019, the coalition has expanded and now consists of nine CSOs with a wide reach in terms of regional presence and audiences for stakeholder engagement. Aidenvironment and Linkar Borneo, for example, are focused on increasing NDPE adoption among palm oil producers and traders and their financiers. ELSAM and Sawit Watch have long been known for their work in advocating the integration of human rights in government policies related to businesses, including the palm oil sector. AGRA and PADI are focused on advocating smallholders and indigenous peoples’ rights. JPIK and Lingkar Hijau Indonesia work and campaign for forest protection in Indonesia. Consolidating information across the coalition has strengthened each CSO’s engagement strategy and enabled better access for up-to-date information. The coalition also allows the CSOs to share information on case findings, updates on former cases, and violations sourced from field workers and their local community networks. With their diverse geographic reach, the coalition aims to increase pressure on palm oil producers and their stakeholders to produce biofuel without deforestation and exploitation.

“CSOs do not have to work in silos. It has been motivating and highly strategic to collaborate more with each other. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together in the coalition,” said Agus Sutomo, Coordinator of Clean Biofuel for All.”

 

For more information on Aidenvironment’s Domestic Market Transformation Project or Koalisi Clean Biofuel for All, please feel free to reach out to Monalisa.