The province of Central Kalimantan, located in the Indonesian part of Borneo, is one of the largest provinces in Indonesia. The province is home to charismatic fauna such as the orangutan, proboscis monkey and sun bears that live among the biologically diverse forests and peat swamps. The people of Central Kalimantan are diverse too: the indigenous Dayak live among the Banjarese and more recent migrants from other parts of Indonesia. Over recent decades, the province has developed rapidly, large due the expansion of commercial agriculture and exploitation of natural resources. Economic development, however, has often come at the expense of the natural environment. Forests and peat land have converted to farmland leading to the loss of biological diversity and habitat for animals, and increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Is there a way that economic development in Central Kalimantan does not lead to the degradation of the natural environment, while benefitting the poor and respecting the rights of indigenous people?
Since 2012, Institut Penelitian Inovasi Bumi (INOBU) and Earth Innovation Institute (EII) have been working with the provincial government of Central Kalimantan to ensure that the cultivation of oil palm is sustainable, equitable and recognises the rights of indigenous people. Together, we supported the creation of the “Central Kalimantan Roadmap to Low-Deforestation Rural Development.” Working in two districts, Kotawaringin Barat and Seruyan, we are working with the district governments to pilot jurisdiction level certification of the production of palm oil. These activities have involved mapping the lands of smallholder oil palm farmers and supporting the registration of their lands, establishing working groups between government and agribusinesses, and developing a plantation monitoring system. The two districts have also been selected as pilot sites for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) initiative for jurisdictional certification.
The pilot initiatives need the support of the private sector, national government and international community to move forward and expand to other districts. We will work together with the private sector to support initiatives to purchase palm oil from districts certified as being sustainable. Support from the national government is needed to recognise the initiatives of these districts, validate their monitoring systems and support the design of mechanisms to incentivise initiatives for sustainability. We also need support from the international community to fund incentive mechanisms and expand the initiatives to other districts in Central Kalimantan and beyond.