The draft interim report of the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) for the EU-Indonesia Free Trade negotiations (FW 237) places a strong emphasis on the lessons to be learned from the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) programme.
Published on 3 October 2018, a few days before the mid-October negotiations got underway in Indonesia, the draft report includes some of Fern’s recommendations to prevent increased trade from resulting in greater deforestation and human rights violations, such as land grabs and forced displacement.
The report’s consultants highlight that “practices initiated by the Indonesia-EU FLEGT VPA [voluntary partnership agreement] could serve as exemplary guides on how to structure concrete steps to prevent some of the negative environmental implications of an FTA”. They mention that “the clarity of the legal framework, the definitions and requirements of the environmental standards of production, as well as the involvement of stakeholders and civil society oversight on the public and private sector, are all seen as beneficial to reach the objectives of FLEGT”, and would therefore be valuable additions to an FTA.
Land tenure rights of local communities, and the fact that strengthening local communities’ tenure rights contributes to forest protection are also emphasised in the draft interim SIA report.
The Impact Assessment should inform the negotiations between the EU and Indonesia, especially when discussing forest governance issues related to palm oil. At the 8 October presentation of the draft report and dialogue with EU-based civil society, however, the Commission was unable to give a clear answer regarding how the SIA will be used in the negotiations, and as a consequence how an eventual FTA can guarantee consistency with human rights and environmental imperatives.