Sustainability certification in the Indonesian palm oil sector: benefits and challenges for smallholders

Sustainability certification in the Indonesian palm oil sector: benefits and challenges for smallholders

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Brandi, Clara / Tobias Cabani / Christoph Hosang / Sonja Schirmbeck / Lotte Westermann / Hannah Wiese
Studies 74 (2013)

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

ISBN: 978-3-88985-581-7
Price: 10 €

Palm oil production is currently the focus of contentious debate. On the one hand, it yields positive socio-economic impacts and can be a powerful engine for rural development. On the other hand, it can generate severe negative impacts regarding ecological and social sustainability. Sustainability concerns have spurred numerous efforts to introduce standards and certification schemes for palm oil, including ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil) and RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). Yet, potential large-scale ecological benefits of sustainability standards concerning reduced deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions are difficult to achieve. In order to make the palm oil sector more sustainable, it is essential to include the important group of smallholders in certification schemes. At the same time, smallholder certification is especially challenging as it demands capacities that smallholders often lack.

This study presents findings from a research project on sustain­ability standards for smallholders in the Indonesian palm oil sector – focussing on the challenges and gaps of smallholder certification and the benefits that can be gained. It offers baseline data on smallholder certification, insights into and lessons-learnt from ongoing certification projects and input for closing existing research gaps, especially regarding challenges on the ground.

About the author

Brandi, Clara

Economist and Political Scientist

Clara Brandi

Further experts

Berger, Axel

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Brüntrup, Michael

Agricultural Economist 

Dombrowsky, Ines

Economist 

Hein, Jonas

Geographer 

Horstmann, Britta

Geographer 

Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist 

Lindenberg, Nannette

Economist 

Pauw, Pieter

Environment Scientist 

Scholz, Imme

Sociologist 

Schwab, Jakob

Economist 

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