Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Study: Create the Same Level of Playing Field for All Vegetable Oils Towards the Achievement of the SDGs
As the most traded vegetable oil, the dominance of palm oil in the global market triggers competition. Competition between vegetable oils has also led and aims to inhibit the pace of palm oil trade in the global market by using trade policies of importing countries that discriminate against palm oil (such as RED II ILUC) as well as black campaigns and the palm oil-free movement with using health, social and environmental as background issues.
The global palm oil stakeholders face trade policies and black campaigns that discriminate against palm oil, which is like playing football with a moving, as the issues used are constantly changing. Therefore, strategic steps are needed to defend the palm oil industry from trade policies and negative campaign attacks in a more holistic, elegant, long-term, and sustainable way and based on data and facts. The strategic step is to promote the positive values of palm oil.
One of the “languages” that can be used in campaigning and promoting the positive value of palm oil is to show that the Indonesian palm oil industry is part of the solution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a global development platform initiated by the United Nations and have been adopted by 197 countries, so the indicators in the SDGs are also recognized internationally. By linking the palm oil industry with the SDGs, it is hoped that it will open the eye of the global community to the positive benefits/values of palm oil so that it can increase its acceptance in the global market.
Another point of view from the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the palm oil promotion material, the SDGs platform should be used with a holistic and balanced perspective to see the contribution of all vegetable oils in the world, not only palm oil. With this paradigm and narrative change, the goal of creating the same level of playing field between vegetable oils toward the SDGs will be achieved so that there will be no discrimination between vegetable oils and the same standard for all vegetable oils.
With this paradigm, the Agency for the Study and Development of Policy (Badan Pengkajian dan Pengembangan Kebijkan/BPPK) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia produced a study entitled “Contribution of Vegetable Oils towards Sustainable Development Goals A Comparative Analysis”. This study shows the contribution of Top-4 vegetable oils originating from the main producer countries, namely palm oil (Indonesia, Malaysia), soybean oil (United States, Argentina, Brazil, China), sunflower seed oil (Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Argentina), and rapeseed oil (Canada, Europe, France, China) in achieving the SDGs.
Meanwhile, the SDGs used as sustainability indicators in this study consist of 9 SDGs, namely SDGs-1 (No Poverty), SDGs-2 (Zero Hunger), SDGs-3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDGs-6 (Clean water). and Sanitation), SDGs-7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDGs-8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDGs-12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDGs-13 (Climate action), and SDGs-15 (Life on Land). From these goals, 18 indicators were compiled as a measurement of the achievement of the SDGs.
In carrying out that study, the researcher faced various limitations such as data gap, data validity, the complexity of the supply chain, completeness of the data, and geographical correlation. Among Top-4 vegetable oils, studies of palm oil that related to its contribution in economic, social, and environmental aspects are quite complete compared to other vegetable oils. This makes not all SDGs goals comparable between vegetable oils.
Despite facing various limitations, they completed their studies and revealed several conclusions, namely that all vegetable oils contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, and three of which are palm oil, soybean oil, and sunflower seed oil have relatively more contributions to the achievement of several SDGs indicators.
Based on this study shows that palm oil contributes more to SDGs-1, SDGs-2, SDGs-6, SDGs-7, SDGs-8, SDGs-13, and SDGs-15. Meanwhile, soybean oil contributed more to SDGs-3, and sunflower seed oil contributed more to SDGs-12. For rapeseed oil, the researcher stated that its contribution to the SDGs was smaller than the other three vegetable oils.
Furthermore, from the results of the study, BPPK created a Vegetable Oils Dashboard as an interactive visual media that can be used to access information related to vegetable oils and their contribution to the SDGs. On the dashboard, the public can access this data based on vegetable oil producer countries or based on types of vegetable oils.
In the Dissemination Webinar of Studies on the Contribution of Vegetable Oils to the SDGs held by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 14, 2021, the researcher also conveyed that the way forward of the study was further research by expanding the scope of vegetable oil to 18 vegetable oil commodities to be analyzed and compared their contribution to the achievement of the SDGs.
In addition, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also conveyed the steps that are taken by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to initiate the preparation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Sustainable Vegetable (VG-SVO) as a recommendation to improve the sustainable management of vegetable oils that refers to the economic, social, and environmental pillars in a balanced way to meet the global demand that will increase in the future.
The strategic steps taken by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are solely to increase the acceptance and recognition of palm oil in the global market so that there is no longer discrimination or differences in treatment/standard between vegetable oils. This step is also one of the surefire steps to counter trade policies that aim to phase out palm oil or the black campaign.
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