In the context of Cooperative Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations, EU and Indonesian delegations must listen to Indonesian NGOs regarding significant threats to Indigenous Peoples and forests and condition the agreement accordingly.
On 24 June 2020, the EU and Indonesia concluded the 10thround of CEPA negotiations via online discussions. Both trade partners seem determined to conclude an ambitious trade deal, despite COVID-19 and the dispute around the EU’s decision to phase out use of palm oil for biodiesel production unless the oil is certified not to have contributed to deforestation.
The next day, 37 Indonesian NGO representatives met online with Fern to discuss ways forward. Hosted by the Indonesian NGO Madani, the discussion built on practical options outlined in Fern’s recent paper, Detoxifying palm oil, intended to help the EU and Indonesia ensure that palm oil production and trade respect Indigenous Peoples’ and community rights, and do not harm forests.
An objective of the discussion with Indonesian NGOs was to share information with participants about the EU-Indonesia CEPA trade agreement negotiations, and how that agreement could impact palm oil, forest protection and human rights violations in Indonesia. Indeed, even the 2019 draft Sustainability Impact Assessment in support of the Free Trade Agreement highlights that increasing trade in sectors where land rights issues have not been resolved (e.g., palm oil) could increase human rights violations. It could also disincentivise efforts to improve mechanisms to enforce private and public sector respect for Indigenous Peoples’ land rights.
Indonesian and European NGOs are asking for a multi-stakeholder consultation to discuss palm oil and threats to forests and human rights with trade negotiators. They highlight the need to condition the trade deal on respect for the palm oil moratorium and on national commitments under the Paris Agreement, particularly in the forests sector. A briefing outlining Indonesian NGOs’ key demands will be published shortly.