Smallholder oil palm plantations are a common sight in Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra.  

Conservation International + Unilever

© CI/photo by Tory Read

 

Palm oil can be found in as many as half of all products on supermarket shelves — and demand is constantly growing. To ensure palm oil is produced sustainably, Conservation International works with companies, governments and civil society to transform supply chains, strengthen policy and promote demand for sustainably sourced palm oil.

As part of these efforts, Conservation International is partnering with Unilever, a consumer goods company that makes and sells more than 400 brands worldwide, in support of the company’s ambition to make sustainable palm oil commonplace.

 

Our role

In 2019, Conservation International and Unilever teamed up to advance sustainable palm oil production through strengthening a multi-stakeholder initiative known as the Coalition for Sustainable Livelihoods (CSL), as well as through setting up projects to directly support smallholder farmers in Unilever’s supply chain.

The CSL is coordinated by Conservation International and focuses on driving collective action across sectors to drive economic development, reduce poverty and improve natural resource management in the Indonesian provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh.

With funding from Unilever, Conservation International will promote action being taken at the landscape level, supporting local government in the Tapanuli Selatan regency in North Sumatra and helping them strengthen forest governance and map out a potential restoration area. 

 

Our work

At the same time, the partnership will build the capacity of smallholder palm oil farmers in the area, so they can play a key role in conservation, sustainable development and sustainable commodity production.

Through the CSL, Conservation International will work with stakeholders to create district-level green growth development plans, strengthen forest management and governance practices and support local government to designate areas that are legally protected from palm oil development.

In addition, a guide will be developed for the restoration of illegally planted palm oil areas, so they can be converted into agroforestry projects that can both provide alternative livelihoods for local communities and protect nature at the same time. This will be put into practice through the establishment of a pilot agroforestry project covering an initial area of at least 100 hectares (about 247 acres).

Mapping a future for smallholder farmers

Unilever is also supporting Conservation International’s efforts to empower smallholder farmers in four of Tapanuli Selatan’s sub-districts — Angkola Selatan, Angkola Sangkunur, Batang Toru and Maura Batang Toru — where the expansion of palm oil has impacted forest and peatland areas.

Conservation International will create detailed baseline maps of farmer-owned and managed lands, overlaid with forest and conservation areas. This will indicate where there has been encroachment into forests, highlight acceptable and unacceptable zones for future development, and identify areas of high conservation value and high carbon stocks.

Through this project, Conservation International aims to train 1,000 smallholder farmers in Good Agricultural Practices and to help them adopt Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards, with the ambition of certifying 12 groups of farmers and two cooperatives that will meet the RSPO’s standards for producing 100 percent sustainable palm oil.