Deforestation-free commitments: the challenge of implementation - an application to Indonesia.


The deforestation-free movement (or +zero-deforestation) has emerged recently in a context of lower state control, globalization and pressure on corporations by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) through consumer awareness campaigns, acknowledging the essential role of agricultural commodities in deforestation. It takes the form of commitments by corporations to ensure that the products they either produce, process, trade or retail are not linked to forest conversion. This movement has particular relevance for Indonesia. Ambitious targets have been set with concrete action on the ground, and typically go beyond forest conservation to also include peatland management and social issues. Regarding the zero-deforestation component, its implementation relies essentially on two complementary methodologies: high conservation value forest (HCVF) and high carbon stocks (HCS). Yet, the movement is in its early stages and significant challenges remain to realize its full potential. There might be contradictions between the achievement of conservation benefits and the recognition of rights for rural populations in a context of significant pressures on the land and remaining uncertainties in land tenure. Public authorities will also have to be involved to a much greater extent to provide a supportive legal framework. Rather than relying strictly on separate commitments to clean supply chains, a complementary approach based on jurisdictions or even at a national or regional scale might be considered to tackle deforestation globally. With the main groups previously involved in huge deforestation and abuses of communities rights, the legacy issue should not be neglected. Impact of the movement on smallholders is another issue that deserves a lot of attention as there is a risk that these commitments will eventually prevent smallholders from accessing land and/or fragment markets.

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