RSPO names Saragih new advisor

thestar online: 14 November 2011

JAKARTA: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has appointed Prof Dr Bungaran Saragih as its new advisor in Indonesia, after having sought the best candidate for almost a year.

Saragih, who was a former Indonesia Agriculture Minister and a renowned academician in the same field, is well-positioned to support the RSPO's mission to promote sustainable palm oil in Indonesia, the world's largest palm oil producer. RSPO secretary-general Darrel Webber said in a statement last Friday that Saragih's macro-level knowledge of the Indonesian palm oil sector would enable RSPO to further discern the Indonesian palm oil stakeholders and therefore providing the RSPO with rich content for effective decisions, policies and initiatives.

"The Indonesian palm oil industry is an important part in realising the RSPO mission," Webber said, adding that Saragih was a good ambassador for sustainability and shares the same values as RSPO.

RSPO president Jan Kees Vis also said Saragih's appointment as advisor to RSPO was undoubtedly a significant impetus to the cause RSPO.

He said: "Indonesia continues to be a good benchmark for new emerging markets and has already played an instrumental role by contributing over 40% of RSPO certified sustainable palm oil worldwide."

Meanwhile, Saragih said: "Right from the beginning, I have been committed to the RSPO vision and mission. We have to advance RSPO to be committed towards the paradigm of sustainable development without slanting towards pure conservationist and or pure developmentalist. The world, particularly developing countries, can't afford extremist approach for development."

Saragih has served as Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Forestry between 2000 and 2004. In recognition of his significant contribution, he was awarded the Satyalancana Development Award by the then-Indonesia president Megawati Sukarnoputri in 2002.

Saragih also has an illustrious academic background serving as a lecturer at Bogor Agricultural Institute, from 1968 to 2010.

Since 2010, he became Professor Emeritus at the Bogor Agricultural Institute. Saragih presently serves as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Borneo Orang-utan Survival Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated at promoting the conservation of Borneo orang-utans and their habitat in collaboration with local stakeholders.