18 September 2021 marks end of palm oil moratorium in Indonesia – NGOs demand extension

On 19 September 2018, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) signed presidential instruction No 8/2018 concerning Suspension and Evaluation of Oil Palm Plantation Permits and Increase of Oil Palm Plantation Productivity, also known as the “Oil Palm Moratorium”. The moratorium officially ended on 18 September 2021. Environmental observers and NGOs have called upon President Jokowi to extend the moratorium, arguing that the Government has not yet achieved the given targets stipulated in the moratorium. The Palm Oil Moratorium Coalition has launched a petition for the extension of the Oil Palm Moratorium on Change.org.

Sign Change.org petition for an extension of palm oil moratorium

The moratorium pursues four significant objectives: Cancelling licenses and investments for new permits, and for expanding existing oil palm plantations within forest areas; evaluating existing oil palm licenses and business use rights in forests; redistributing to communities those forest areas released from oil palm production, and strengthening support to smallholders and productivity through compliance with sustainable oil palm schemes.

On 17 September 2021, the Palm Oil Moratorium Coalition, consisting of multiple environmental NGOs, wrote an official letter to President Jokowi, asking him to issue an extension of the moratorium. The coalition also urged the government to make the review process of oil palm licenses more transparent to the public, allowing civil society groups to monitor the government’s work.

Environmental groups say the government has not yet succeeded in overhauling its palm oil licensing scheme to guarantee sustainable palm oil production. Indonesian palm oil only has a future on the world market if it is produced sustainably, environmentally friendly, and according to human rights standards. Major buyers on the world market, such as the European Union and the United States, are developing legislation that should prevent the trade of “dirty” agricultural commodities, including palm oil.

An extension and successful implementation of the palm oil moratorium is also an essential step towards reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) in Indonesia. The Indonesian Government has committed to reducing GHG emissions by 29 per cent with its efforts and 41 per cent with international assistance by 2030.

Support for the prolongation of the palm oil moratorium policy also came from the general public. As of 20 September 2021, 4,937 people have signed a petition to extend the moratorium with the title "Pak Jokowi Please Extend the Palm Oil Moratorium, So Indonesia's Forests Stay Sustainable" on the website of the world’s largest campaigning platform Change.org.