Civil society efforts in Indonesia lead major global companies to declare and adopt no deforestation policies

Rainforest Action Network, together with partner organizations in Indonesia and Malaysia, have monitored the performance of pulp and paper companies on their voluntary commitments.


Rainforest Action Network

The purpose of the project was to contribute to the prevention or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and the draining of peat lands in Indonesia and Malaysian Borneo by palm oil and pulp wood sectors.

Why did Norway decide to support this project?

RAN reported that the pulp and paper industry accounted for a third of the planned natural forest conversion expansion (about 10 million hectares), making it an important sector that required attention in addition to the palm oil sector. They furthered reported that palm oil plantations on peat lands alone were projected to triple in area by as early as 2020.

The organization stated that halting further expansion of both palm oil and pulp plantations on peat lands and diverting development to productive and available low carbon lands would prevent the addition of hundreds of millions of tons of new CO2 emissions to the atmosphere each year.

The project was seen as relevant to the NICFI goals, in particular early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and forest conservation to maintain carbon storage capacity, as it could reduce demand for palm oil and pulp from environmentally and socially destructive sources, and thereby advance the protection for natural forests.

The expected outcomes of this project were:

Outcome I: Partner civil society organizations and networks in Indonesia and Malaysia are strengthened and supported by RAN to a) develop case studies that feed international markets campaigns on pulp/paper manufacturers, palm oil traders, and consumer-facing brands, b) run local campaigns supported by international leverage that set precedents that push policy changes, and c) expand civil society capacity to tackle key drivers of deforestation and loss of forests and peat lands.

Outcome II: The Indonesian pulp and paper sector is convinced by demand-side pressure from leading U.S. and Japanese corporations and their printing/manufacturing partners in China to a)curb expansion of pulp plantations in peat lands and natural forests, b) respect forest people‘s rights and tenures and c) support equitable low-emissions rural development pathways and alternatives.

Outcome III: Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil producers are convinced by demand-side pressure from leading multinational corporations and the global traders that supply their oil to international markets to a) stop expansion of plantations in peat lands and natural forests,b) respect forest people‘s rights and tenures and c) grown palm oil with values that surpass those currently articulated in the principles and criteria of the RSPO.

Outcome IV: Consumer-facing companies adopt deforestation and conflict-free commitments and advocate for Indonesian forest governance policy reform, supply chain transparency, improvements to roundtable and certification criteria, and low emissions development with peers and policy makers.

Please find RAN`s final results report to Norad on these outcomes in the PDF file <here/in the box to the right>.


Although external factors, further mentioned under “Lessons learned”, have limited the full goal achievement, this project has created a push for changes in the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors:

As for outcome 1, RAN collaborated with TuK Indonesia to conduct research and analysis with a range of local organizations on the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors. A coalition of international and Indonesian NGOs was formed to monitor the performance of companies Asian Pulp and Paper (APP) and APRIL on the implementation of voluntary commitments and recognition of customary rights.

Regarding outcome 2, RAN, together with Indonesian and international NGO allies, reports to have created pressure on APRIL, the Royal Golden Eagle group (RGE), Sateri and its supplier and affiliate Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) to adopt no deforestation, no forested peat and no exploitation policies in 2015. In the US and Europe, RAN engaged large office supply and packaging paper and pulp customers including: Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, Nestle, Disney and International Paper.

Regarding outcome 3, RAN reported to have contributed to improve the environmental policies of brands that consume the largest volumes of palm oil including PepsiCo and Unilever, the world’s largest bakery company, Grupo Bimbo, and instant noodle giants Toyo Suisan and Nissin Foods. RAN pushed a number of brands such as Mars, Kellogg’s, and Hersheys to publish frequent progress reports and to take action on non-compliant suppliers.

Finally, on outcome 4, RAN strengthened the capacity of local civil society organizations to engage the banking sector in Indonesia and Southeast Asia in deforestation free policies through private lobbying and public campaign pressure.

Lessons learned

Some of the lessons learned are highlighted hereunder. For a complete overview consult RAN`s final report.

RAN has observed that securing a moratorium via corporate voluntary policy commitments is hard to translate into real outcomes on the ground without incentives being provided to local communities, civil society and governments.

According to the organization, there is a lack of a shared set of clear, outcome-based performance requirements that can be monitored and verified by paper customers. In light of this, RAN has amended its strategy to include the development of such a performance standard and verification approach that can be adopted by paper buyers.

RAN also stated that there is also a need for a governing body to oversee an agreed and credible approach to implementing no deforestation commitments:


The result descriptions are based on the information provided by the organisations. Their presentations and conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad. Norad has not verified all results reported.

Published 22.10.2013
Last updated 26.06.2018