Under the agreement, signed in 2011, Indonesia and the EU work together to develop a system, known as the SVLK, to verify the legality of its timber exports to the EU. The system, recognized by the EU in 2016, ensures that no illegal timber could enter the EU market in an effort to combat illegal logging and deforestation in Indonesia.
Herry said the VPA agreement is an example of how Indonesia and the EU could work together for a shared goal.
“The cooperation [between Indonesia and the EU for sustainable palm oil] has existed, but it’s not as strong as the VPA agreement,” he told Mongabay.
Herry said the discussion around the EU deforestation regulation has been divisive, with the EU and producing countries attacking each other instead of collaborating.
“Collaboration can only happen if both parties are open [to each other],” he said.
What’s hampering collaboration in the EU deforestation regulation is the difference in perception between the EU and producing countries, Herry said.
“The EU see us as destroying orangutan [habitat], [whereas] we see the EU as discriminating [against us],” he said. “however, our goal is actually the same. All of us want sustainability. That’s why I’d like to point out that article 33 of our Constitution clearly mandates sustainability [in our economic development].”