JAKARTA — The world’s leading palm oil sustainability certification scheme may have helped reduce deforestation and pollution in areas where it’s applied, but has had a limited impact on rural development, a study shows. The paper evaluates the trade-offs between the development and environmental impacts of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification on local communities in Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. The two regions account for more than 90% of oil palm expansion since 1990 in Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of palm oil. The study authors said little is known about the trade-offs and complementarities between the environmental and socioeconomic goals of the RSPO at the village level. To delve into the issue, they used a data set covering five time points from 2003 to 2014 and encompassing 7,983 and 3,545 villages in Sumatra and Kalimantan respectively. For environmental outcomes, the study looked at reductions in water, air and land pollution, deforestation, loss of primary forests, and incidence of fires, which are often associated with oil palm expansion and production. In terms of developmental outcomes, the study focused on the provision of public goods in each village, such as the number of private educational facilities, the number of households with access to non-state sources of electricity, and the presence of health centers. According to the study, RSPO brought small environmental benefits to the villages, reducing deforestation by an average of 0.05% and 1% in Sumatra and Kalimantan, respectively. It fared better on…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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