Phase III of Green Commodities Programme in Malaysia launched to drive sustainable agricultural production

April 19, 2024

UNDP and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) have launched the third phase of the Green Commodities Programme (GCP), building on the efforts started in 2010 to catalyse changes in the sustainability of agricultural production for society, the economy, and the environment.  

Leveraging Swiss citizens’ interest in sustainable food, UNDP and SECO renewed their working partnership – first formed in 2015 – to further strengthen their joint engagement in sustainable agricultural commodities productions, which started with palm oil in Indonesia, as well as coffee and cocoa in Peru.  

The continuation of the GCP project will extend the expertise gained in the previous two phases to three additional countries: Malaysia (palm oil), Ghana (cocoa), and Brazil (beef and soy). GCP Phase III builds on successes achieved since 2015, notably the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil Platform and the National Action Plan on Sustainable Palm Oil.

In Malaysia, the state of Sabah launched the Jurisdictional Approach to Sustainable Palm Oil (JASPO) Initiative in 2015, with commitment to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Jurisdictional Approach to Certification standards by 2025. This strategic approach focuses on sustainability for the state-wide landscape under its jurisdiction, rather than certifying individual palm oil estates.  

GCP Phase III will support the goal by working directly with the JASPO Secretariat to accelerate the processes under the initiative, delivering capacity building for the Secretariat team and operation, and facilitating improved collaboration among the existing multi-stakeholder structures of the Initiative, as well as facilitating wider and deeper engagement with the oil palm production sector to promote uptake in the JASPO Initiative including uptake by smallholder farmers.

“A multi-stakeholder initiative like JASPO requires productive dialogues amongst decision makers and industry players to realise Sabah’s ambition of a sustainable palm oil future for the entire state. It takes collaboration and careful consideration to transform a complex landscape.  Our collaboration with UNDP under the SECO-funded GCP approach envisions effective facilitated dialogues amongst all key players in the initiative. We are excited for the collaboration between JASPO and UNDP. With more actors in the sustainable palm oil space, we can accelerate problem solving in governance, technical implementations, and capacity building for the state”, says Julia Majail, JASPO Secretariat Technical Advisor.

UNDP will also support cross-project collaboration and synergy with complementary Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded ‘Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration’ (FOLUR) Impact Program in Sabah in terms of capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, results-based reporting, communication and knowledge management, and opportunity for South-South cooperation to achieve greater development impact on promoting a sustainable agricultural commodity sector in Sabah and beyond.

“Switzerland is committed to promoting sustainable trade, worldwide and in Malaysia. One of the tools is the global UNDP Green Commodities Programme which supports the pioneering jurisdictional approach to sustainable palm oil in Sabah. Backed by a joint ESG legal framework, government, CSOs, and industry actors (including smallholders) strive to deliver quality and high-standard palm-oil to the market and consumers. UNDP’s global experience and expertise acts as a catalyst in building sustainable commodity supply chains”, says H.E. Andrea Reichlin, Ambassador of Switzerland to Malaysia.  

What’s Next: The Inception Workshop on April 26 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, will be held with national partners to unpack the country intervention, explicate synergy with JASPO initiative and the complementary GEF-funded FOLUR Impact Program in Sabah, and refresh the call to action and renew commitments from stakeholders.  

This article was written with contributions from Ka Han Lee, Project Manager for Sabah, UNDP Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei Darussalam