KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s pursuit of a conservation-based economy to fully certify its palm oil and address deforestation through a statewide forest management plan will need a major relationship and behavioural change.
In the two years since the Sabah Government pledged to produce palm oil to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards by 2025, the Jurisdictional Certification Steering Committee (JCSC) entrusted with the task has been challenged by several factors.
Sabah shared its journey on implementing the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany recently.
The state produces 10% of global palm oil supply while staying on track to have 30% of its land mass secured as totally protected areas by 2025. The figure currently stands at 26% or 1.9mil ha.
Sabah Forestry Department Deputy Conservator of Forests (Forest Sector Planning) Frederick Kugan said moving to 100% RSPO certified palm oil would mean adopting a credible voluntary standard and integrating this into state policy and the legal framework.
“In tandem, we are embarking on a process to prepare a 25-year Sabah-wide forest management plan,” he said during a panel which highlighted new commitments to deforestation free commodities.
Kugan also gave an overview of the JCSC that is co-chaired by the department and the Natural Resources Office and which is equal parts government, private sector and civil society.
Work has started on mapping high conservation value-high carbon stock areas on no-go areas for oil palm, organising smallholders and building support systems to address land, farm management, productivity, training, as well as health and safety.
“These combined actions are aimed at having zero conflict in oil palm production and strengthening smallholder sustainability and to uplift livelihoods.
“We are connected in a joint process with Central Kalimantan, which is also embarking on jurisdictional certification at the district level to share experiences in the smallholder component,” Kugan said.
Forever Sabah chief executive facilitator Cynthia Ong stressed that the state’s jurisdictional certification process will require reforms of long-standing laws and institutions.
She said they have to contend with external tensions such as the impending European Union decision on palm oil imports.
“The upcoming Sabah smallholders 100% certified sustainable palm oil product will pull the supply chain in the right direction,” she said.