Five reasons to be optimistic in 2020
24 December 2019 | By Stephanie Lim
As 2019 draws to a close, and the “Decade of Delivery” between 2020 and 2030 beckons, there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic for the year ahead despite the challenges. World Resources Institute (WRI) mentioned that Indonesia’s deforestation decreased by 60% between 2016 and 2017 . Deforestation by the private sector has been on a downward trend since 2012, from approximately 180,000 ha in 2012 down to 50,000 ha in 2016 .
Within Musim Mas, 2019 has been a year of progress in our sustainability journey. Here are five events and trends within Musim Mas that will make you feel optimistic:
1. A Palm Oil company can adhere to higher standards
We are the first company to receive certification against the 2018 Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) P&C for one of our units, and the first Southeast Asian Palm Oil producing company to be admitted as a member of the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG).
POIG supports the RSPO through building on their standards and commitments. At the beginning of the year, we were the first and only Southeast Asian palm oil company verified by the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), and we still are.
2. More suppliers are now aware of and are committed to NDPE policy
This year, we intensified our supplier engagement and conducted workshops for our suppliers to introduce our sustainability policy, NDPE (No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation) policy, traceability to Plantation requirements and a self-assessment toolkit (SAT). The purpose of these workshops is to help suppliers identify gaps in their sustainability and NDPE commitments or policies.
Our colleague was conducting a supplier workshop in Medan, Indonesia.
We also learnt that building a powerful relationship with suppliers and addressing their concerns are important to secure NDPE commitment. The best HCS-HCV assessment, supplier assessment and gap analysis will not work if the people who are implementing it are not convinced.
3. We have cracked the code to identifying high-risk areas quicker
Traceability is a tool to understand where and how Smallholders produce the fruits, and whether it complies with our sustainability policy. Traditionally, a traceability to Plantation exercise of a supplier’s supply base would have taken up to 15 months and at least USD 35,800 (501,000,000 Rp), assuming we collect all the coordinates of the Smallholders who contribute at least once to the mill in the year.
Through our conversations with suppliers, our sustainability colleagues recognized their resource constraints and developed a risk-based approach to traceability:
This approach shortens the time spent on the traceability exercises and keeps the supply chain clean.
4. More independent Smallholders are attaining sustainable certification
This year, 705 independent Smallholders from our smallholder programme with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, received RSPO certificates. Our Palm Oil smallholder programme is the largest of its scale in Indonesia despite its implementation at only four of our mills.
Representatives of smallholder farmer associations receiving RSPO certificates at the launch of the RSPO Smallholder Academy at RT 17.
Together with IFC’s joint programme and our smallholder programmes, we have engaged over 23,438 independent Smallholders across seven of our mills and two of our supplier mills in Indonesia (as of September 2019).
The number of Smallholders engaged and obtaining RSPO certification is set to increase as we scale up our smallholder programme to more suppliers and our mills via landscape projects and the Smallholder Hub with the district government.
5. Landscape projects with big industry players and the government are starting to take off
Musim Mas is involved in several landscape projects as we believe collaboration is key to scaling up our sustainability efforts.
This year, we saw progress within the Siak-Pelalawan programme as it was formally launched in July with the Siak government, together with a coalition of companies such as Danone, Neste and Unilever, as well as consultants Daemeter and Proforest. Within six months, Daemeter and Proforest secured a commitment from the Siak government to transform Siak into a sustainable district, via a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Siak-Pelalawan Programme: Members of the Coalition pose for a photo with the Siak government.
Our project in Aceh Tamiang also gained momentum when IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) signed a compact with the government of Aceh Tamiang, which outlined targets to transform Aceh Tamiang into a sustainable commodity-producing region. The Aceh Tamiang project is a collaboration between IDH, the Aceh Tamiang government, Palm Oil producers (including PT Semadam, PT Mopoli, PT Socfin and PTPN 1), buyers (such as PepsiCo and Unilever) and local CSOs.
Together with other players in the Palm Oil industry, we are investing in better satellite monitoring technology, called RADD (Radar Alerts for Detecting Deforestation) for early and precise identification of deforestation. RADD, developed by WRI, is an open system that allows companies, governments and the public to access accurate, timely information – a new level of transparency within the Palm Oil sector. We are exploring integrating RADD into our landscape projects.
There is a Chinese saying that one minute of glory on the stage takes ten years of hard work (台上一分钟，台下十年功) that you do not see, off-stage. Indeed, these are achievements many years in the making. Kudos goes to colleagues toiling in the sun doing the groundwork, and to colleagues making difficult decisions in the board room. In many ways, from the way we are progressing, there seem to be more reasons to be optimistic and hopeful now than five years ago.
 Indonesia's Deforestation Dropped 60 Percent in 2017, but There's More to Do. World Resources Institute, 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/08/indonesias-deforestation-dropped-60-percent-2017-theres-more-do
 What causes deforestation in Indonesia? Kemen G Austin et al 2019 Environ. Res. Lett. 14 024007. Available at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaf6db/pdf