Agroforestry and its contribution towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
A seminar organized by ECS and the Indonesian Embassy in Stockholm on Jan 28th 2019, explored challenges and opportunities in sustainable agroforestry. The event was opened by Mr. Ulf Ewaldsson, the Chairman of the Board of KTH, Mr. Bagas Hapsoro, the Indonesian Ambassador for Sweden and Mr. Tomas Dahlman, the Director-General at Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation. They emphasized the need for global partnership to achieve the SDGs and the role that agroforestry can play. More than 100 participants attended the seminar including representatives from government, industry and academia, as well as NGOs and civil society.
The participants highlighted the complexity of implementing agro-forestry and the importance of enabling policies to ensure sustainable practices. Fair trade and non-discrimination of products were mentioned as important ways to support the development of sustainable practices in developing countries. But this should come together with certification and proper monitoring, as well as the establishment of research programs to support innovation on the ground.
Not surprisingly, the topic of palm oil production came up in the discussions. Many countries rely on the palm oil industry as a source of jobs and income and as an important sector in the efforts towards implementation of the SDGs. Countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nigeria and Colombia have interest in the development of a sustainable palm oil industry. Despite international criticism, many efforts are being made to improve conditions in this industry, including law enforcement and regulation reforms. Certainly, more will have to be made and, in this context, the support of the international community is central. Experiences such as those of Sweden in forestry can play a role in the development of similar industries in developing countries.
Several initiatives reflect multi-stakeholders engagement on the ground. In Indonesia, many policies are already in place, even if implementation is still a challenge. This means policy adjustments and incentives are still needed to improve sustainability in the palm oil industry. Fumi Harahap, ECS researcher, presented results of her research indicating areas where improved industrial integration can enhance resource and energy efficiency. For example, more than 150 Million tonnes of residues are generated in palm oil mills annually in Indonesia, which can be used for bio-based products and energy. This would generate new jobs and also contribute to enhance electricity access in many areas.
Many speakers made the seminar an excellent opportunity to network and discuss on-going initiatives in research and policy. Participating organizations included the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Stockholm Environment Institute, European Palm Oil Alliance, Svebio, Golden Agri Resources, Vi-skogen/Vi Agroforestry, Fedepalma, Oriflame Cosmetics AB, etc. We hope for a continued dialogue with the objective to improving sustainability in agro-forestry industries.