Fighting Discrimination Against Palm Oil Sustainability

By demanding sustainability only on oil palm, we have made a big mistake, discrimination and even unfair practices on oil palm plantations

Nobody likes to be discriminated against. The treatment of discrimination on any grounds is opposed by the UN because it is against modern civilization principles, contradicts the law and human equality. Discrimination is another form of colonialism and exploitation.

 In the trading world, it is also prohibited to discriminate. In the WTO rules, it is prohibited to discriminate between domestic and imported goods (national treatment) and to ban imported goods between countries (the most favored countries).

Sustainability of development, either economically, socially or environmentally, is a good thing and no one refuses it. The sustainability is a holistic concept that covers the whole country, aspects of development, all sectors and the whole industry. It is impossible for sustainability to be realized only by the state, or a specific sector of commodity. To measure or verify the fulfillment of the principles of sustainability, it can be done through sustainable certification instruments (certification of sustainability, CS).

The problem is that CS is only applicable to one certain commodity, while this CS does not apply for the other commodities, industries, and sectors so that the discrimination happened here. Palm oil is requested and obligated to apply the CS, but this CS does not apply for the other commodities, industries, and sectors. In this context, we have practiced discrimination.

Fossil fuel (oil, coal, natural gas, etc.) is non-renewable energy, proven to be the world’s largest carbon emitter, the cause of global warming and the climate change, is clearly unsustainable. But why the fossil doesn’t require CS? Similarly, all industrial sectors; offices, buildings, banking, transportation, are also carbon emitters, so why doesn’t CS apply? While oil palm plantations are crops that produce food, oxygen and absorb carbon (clean the air) across generations, the words demands them to apply for CS. Have we failed to understand? Do we misunderstand sustainability? Are petroleum, coal, natural gas, mining minerals more sustainable compared to oil palm plantations?

Then the world crop farming ranging from rice, wheat, soybean oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, wood, livestock products, fishery products and so on are not obligated to apply for CS, because they are basically sustainable. If so why are oil palm plantations demanded to have CS?

Why does the RSPO only impose CS on palm oil, and not demand the same thing worldwide? And ISPO only requires CS in agriculture sector while for other sectors do not need to apply for CS? There is no strong reason to justify the compulsory of CS in palm oil plantations except for discriminating palm oil. Please remember that there are 3 million palm farmers and about 15 million workers in our oil palm plantations. So with the discrimination against oil palm plantation, we also have discriminated against farmers and workers who depend on the palm oil.

We have made a big mistake to have unjust practices in the oil palm plantation. Discrimination that is opposed by the trade justice (WTO), conflicts with God’s principles of justice and equality. When will we stop doing injustice on oil palm plantations?

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