Discussing contributions of the palm oil sector to Indonesia’s NDC targets © Angga Prathama Putra, WWF-Indonesia


The global agri-food system is a major driver of climate change, land conversion, depletion of freshwater resources and pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. At the COP 21 in Paris, 200 countries committed to individual targets for tackling greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impact we are set to endure. One of the major long-term goals requires countries to develop strategies towards lower emissions and climate resilient development across all sectors. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are at the heart of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Implementation of the NDCs is inherently country-driven and location-specific. Governments can thus address the food system in their climate targets, plans and actions in a more comprehensive and concrete way. Countries have thereby the potential to leverage the food system to meet their commitments under the Paris Convention.

Within the SCP project, WWF Thailand and WWF Indonesia are working on NDCs in the agricultural sector. The teams have organized workshops and trainings with government representatives over the past years, see hereto our blogpost https://www.wwf-scp.org/workshop-ndc-agriculture/.

While Thailand is focusing on enhancing the resilience of the food system in the NDC strategy, Indonesia is working on analysing how the palm oil sector can contribute to the NDCs.

Indonesia remains the largest producer of Crude Palm Oil in the world. © iStock

Indonesia: the potential of integrating the palm oil sector into the NDC

Within the SCP project, WWF-Indonesia is working directly on refining the NDC for the agricultural sector. With the help of a consultant, the Indonesian team analysed and reviewed the Indonesian NDC with a focus on the palm oil sector. Based on this anaylsis, WWF Indonesia formulated clear policy recommendations such as avoiding oil palm expansion in intact forest areas, integrating oil palm plantations with livestock and crops to suppress land demand for these subsectors, and improving peatland water management in order to lower the risk of forest fires. To arrive at those recommendations, the project collaborated with academic institutions (Bogor Agriculture University) and conducted trainings and a discussion series. The team is moreover working closely with provincial governments and communities.

The findings were shared with the Indonesian environmental ministry (MoEF) in May 2020 for feedback and input. The analysis was also presented to the consultation process for the drafting of the Presidential Decree for NDC Revision. The Indonesian government wants to identify and map relevant low carbon activities carried out by non-governmental actors. Based on the RSPO and ISCC certification, palm oil companies are expected to comply with specific requirements regarding GHG emissions. However, such activities have not yet been incorporated into the NDC targets. One topic that was discussed were incentives that need to be provided to oil palm companies contributing to emission reductions. That is why a focus group discussion with the private sector was held to learn about critical issues related to how the guidance can be implemented in companies. 

Virtual discussion: how can palm oil companies contribute to Indonesia’s NDC targets?

On September 30, 2020, Yayasan Climate & Society and MoEF held a series of discussions to align the palm oil sector with Indonesia’s NDC targets. The virtual workshop was attended by participants from the national government, business associations, academia and the private sector. The aim was to identify problems and opportunities for implementing emission reduction activities at corporate level.

Among the speakers were representatives of MoEF, Prof. Rizaldi Boer (representing Yayasan Climate & Society) and interacting participants. The speakers presented the latest information on the NDC roadmap such as the framework developed by the government and relevant studies related to the contribution of the palm oil sector to Indonesia’s NDC targets. The speakers highlighted specific palm oil areas in Indonesia and explained how they could contribute to achieving the emission targets. One topic of special interest was the Carbon Pricing Agency (Badan Pengelola Dana Lingkungan Hidup under Presidential Decree No. 77/ 2018) under the Management of the Environmental Budget, which had been developed by the Indonesian government. The virtual meeting will now be followed by one-on-one meetings focusing on methods and monitoring for individual companies.

Fruit of the palm oil tree © iStock

WWF policy recommendations for NDCs

The WWF Food Practice Network has developed a guide on NDCs for food systems, seeking to provide recommendations to policy makers to raise the ambitions of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, towards a transition to sustainable food systems. The case studies of Indonesia and Thailand illustrate how country specific recommendations have been developed.

WWF Food Practice Guide NDC