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Biofeul from palm oil increases social and land conflicts in Indonesia [#52]
Our deep concern over the policies being adopted to favour the use and import of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels, whose disproportionate use is one of the new driving forces of large-scale and monoculture oil palm plantation expansion that contributes to global warming, social conflicts and rights abuses in producing countries, particularly Indonesia.

Oil palm plantations have been commercially developed in Indonesia since 1911. Until 2005 oil palm plantations have covered 6.04 million hectares and existing regional development plans allotted a further 20 million hectares for oil palm plantations. Amazingly oil palm plantations planting rate to have reached 400,000 ha annually.

We are very concerned by the fact that oil palm plantations are a major cause of deforestation, forests fires, land and water pollution, and are being imposed on local communities and indigenous peoples without concern for their rights, livelihoods or welfare and managed with insufficient concern for the rights and welfare of plantations workers and smallholders. 

Until 2006, there are 350 conflicts related to land issues against oil palm plantations development in Indonesia. These unresolved conflicts, will get worst if the current biofuels policy is put in place, will deprive further local communities and indigenous peoples from their lands and livelihoods.

Biodiesel from palm oil is developed in intensive capital and investment to make it profitable. If an oil palm plantation and one mill are developed to produce CPO in economic scale, it only needs 20,000 ha whereas to develop economic and profitable oil palm plantation to produce palm oil and biodiesel need minimum 50,000 hectares.

In the light of high demands of palm oil for biodiesel from European markets, the government of Indonesia and the Association of Indonesian Palm Oil Growers (GAPKI) seek to protect palm oil production for existing European food markets have mutually agreed to allot 3 million hectares of land for oil palm plantations for biodiesel production in Indonesia.

The Indonesian President expresses commitment to move ahead with agrarian reform through land distribution for farmers, in fact, it is contrary to the presidential decree to encourage biofuels development for the sake of poverty and unemployment alleviation trough large-scale oil palm plantations for biofuel production.

The above existing situations have implied an extreme control of lands and natural resources only in few hands of businesspersons of oil palm plantations and palm oil industries. Furthermore, potential implication of such mutually adopted policy is obvious that millions of hectares of Indonesian lands will be under absolute control of major oil palm plantation groups and few conglomerates.

Therefore, it is unavoidable that the consequences of EU biofuels policy will further justify relinquishment of rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in lands and further undermining food security and diminishment of lands for agriculture purposes and subsistence livelihoods.

The sense of environmentally friendly and reducing greenhouse gasses by producing biofuel from palm oil will make no sense to protect global climate because million of Indonesians are adversely affected by this policy and will further hampering resolution of existing conflicts and protection of the only planet.

It is time to take corrective and effective measures by adopting EU policy and challenging market commitment to global justice that leads to real changes to favour local communities and indigenous peoples in Indonesia. It is time to hold markets, government, and companies to be highly accountable.

Global justice and solidarity is the only way to end starvation and alleviate poverty. Reduce palm oil consumption is one of the many ways to create more acceptable living conditions in the southern countries including Indonesia.

Development without justice is not development, it is exploitation!
posted on 2007-02-06 09:56 UTC by Mr. Norman Jiwan, Sawit Watch
RE: Biofuel from palm oil increases social and land conflicts in Indonesia [#54]
UNEP-WCMC reports that the world's protected area estate is the largest planned land use allocation on the planet. Given the enormous requirements in land for biofuel to be produced in economic scale, as Norman Jiwan reports, biofuel appears to have the dubious potential of eventually becoming the reason for the largest unplanned land use change on the planet.
It is important to consider the impacts of a global biofuel market and to carefully plan land use changes to minimize their negative impacts on biodiversity and human livelihoods.
(edited on 2007-02-08 14:08 UTC by Mr. Robert Hoft)
posted on 2007-02-08 14:07 UTC by Mr. Robert Hoft

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme