Jurisdictional Certification of Palm Oil

What is the jurisdictional certification of palm oil?

The jurisdictional certification of palm oil refers to the application of sustainability principles and criteria at the level of the jurisdiction. By certifying a jurisdiction, all actors in the palm oil supply chain — including independent smallholders, medium to industrial scale plantations, mills, traders and transporters — should comply with the sustainability principles and criteria.

What is a jurisdiction?

A jurisdiction is an official administrative area led by a government with the authority to issue regulations that apply to everyone living or working in the area. In Indonesia, a jurisdiction can be a province or a district or a village. Jurisdictional certification looks at the medium scale, neither too big or small. In turn, the village governments lack sufficient authority and scale to address challenges to sustainability. Consequently, jurisdictional approaches focus on the district or provincial level. The best level for the implementation of the jurisdictional approach depends on the authority of the level of government as stipulated by laws and regulations.

What are the main elements of jurisdictional certification?

  1. Through a multi-stakeholder process, sustainability and how to achieve it within a jurisdiction are defined and agreed collaboratively;
  2. The process is led directly by the local government, which then issues necessary regulations to ensure all palm oil producers in a jurisdiction comply with sustainability principles and criteria;
  3. An institution or entity responsible for the implementation of action plans bringing all stakeholders to achieve the agreed targets and milestones;
  4. A monitoring system to measure the progress to achieve the milestones and targets and ensure compliance with sustainability principles;
  5. Incentives for producers and the government to make the transition towards sustainability.

What are the benefits of the jurisdictional certification?

  1. Simplifying the process and reducing costs for smallholders. Jurisdictional certification offers benefits for small- and medium-scale producers, particularly independent farmers that currently have limited resources to get a certification. Jurisdictional certification will achieve economies of scale for certification, and will consequently reduce transaction costs for smallholders.
  2. Addressing sustainability at the landscape level. Many issues that currently hinder producers from achieving certification cannot be addressed at the plantation level such as deforestation, wildfires and flooding. These issues should be addressed by the government through good land management, such as spatial planning, regulations and policies.
  3. Improving social outcomes at scale. Jurisdictional certification also provides greater social benefits such as greater institutional support for smallholders and protection of human rights.
  4. Aligning various initiatives to make the transition towards sustainability. The process of certifying a jurisdiction can align many different initiatives to achieve sustainable commodity production. The Government of Indonesia, for instance, has issued the National Action Plan to Achieve Sustainable Palm Oil, which requires local governments to develop an action plan to achieve sustainable palm oil production. Different stakeholders may also have similar initiatives that can be aligned to mobilize sufficient resources for achieving sustainability.

Who will be certified in the jurisdictional certification?

Producers will be certified through an independent jurisdictional entity and not by the government of a jurisdiction. The jurisdictional entity should be the unit responsible for ensuring compliance with the sustainability standards, principles and criteria among the producers that will be certified. The entity will then be audited to assess the compliance of the members.

Who will certify the jurisdiction entity?

One or several certification schemes. There are currently many sustainability certification schemes including the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil System (ISPO), the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) scheme. Although emphasizing different areas, the schemes aim to achieve the same overarching sustainability principles.

Each of the certification labels allows for a group certification, however, jurisdictional certification is new to all schemes. Through jurisdictional certification, governors or district heads should issue necessary regulations to ensure the application of certain standards at the entire jurisdiction. Not all standards can be upwardly delegated to the jurisdiction level. However, sustainability issues such as deforestation, fire prevention and social conflicts, should be regulated at that level. The regulations issued by the government will then be applied to all producers within the jurisdiction.

RSPO is currently finalizing the certification document system on jurisdictional certification, while other certification schemes are considering creating a mechanism to assess the performance of local governments in sustainable commodity production. The Government of Indonesia, for instance, is developing the Terpercaya system to measure the performance of district governments in achieving sustainability.

What is the experience from West Kotawaringin and Seruyan in the jurisdiction certification?

Two of the largest palm oil producing districts in Central Kalimantan, Seruyan and West Kotawaringin districts, declared their commitment to jurisdictional certification of palm oil in 2015. The main achievements in both districts can be into grouped into five workstreams.