With the objective to discuss potential cooperation and synergy between ICC and the Ministry of Foreign Affair of the Republic of Indonesia in international forum, and the joint working group between ASEAN and European union related to SDGs for vegetable oil, a virtual courtesy meeting between Dr. Jelfina C. Alouw, Executive Director, ICC and the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic Indonesia, His Excellency Mr. Mahendra Siregar was held on 8 February 2021. Four directors of The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also attended the meeting. Mr. Hari Prabowo, Director for Development, Economic and Environmental Affairs, Mr. Agustaviano Sofjan, Director for Trade, Commodity, and Intellectual Property; Ms. Carolina Tinangon, Director for ASEAN External Cooperation. The Non-Alignment Movement-Centre for South-South (NAM-CSSTC) was represented by Hon. Ambassador Mr. Diar Nurbintoro, Acting Director, and Ms. Niken Supraba, Assistant Director for Programme.
Dr. Jelfina C. Alouw presented ICC’s vision and mission, local and global coconut scenario, coconut program and projects to support the sustainable development goals. She also presented the challenges confronting farmers and the coconut industry, strategies to promote the positive attributes of coconut, and counter unjustifiably negative campaigns. The strategies included partnership, research and development, publication, webinar, scientific discussion, and communication. One of the implementations of the strategies is the upcoming ICC and FAO meeting on “Coconut Oil: Saturated Fat, Animal Fat and Cardiovascular Disease” which will be held in the second week of March 2021”.
In his opening remarks, His Excellency Mahendra Siregar, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, shared the background of the meeting. The meeting was in the context of the Joint Working Group between ASEAN and the European Union related to SDGs for vegetable oils, which including the palm oil commodity and other vegetable oil including coconut oil. The Foreign Minister has succeeded in convincing the involvement of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand & Vietnam to address the specific issue of coconut oil. It is in this perspective that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held this meeting to get a perspective from coconut stakeholders represented by ICC on how to accommodate coconut sectors in the Joint Working Group.
Mr. Hari Prabowo, Director for Development, Economic and Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shared Indonesia's diplomacy changes, from palm oil diplomacy to vegetable oil diplomacy. This is related to negative campaigns aimed at palm oil, coconut oil and other commodities such as rubber, cocoa, coffee, which have always been linked to deforestation. In fact, the contribution of palm oil and coconut oil to achieving the SDGs is more significant than other vegetable oils. In a meeting with the FAO Intergovernmental Meeting on Oils Seeds, Oils and Fat, on March 4-5, 2021, Indonesia will propose that the ASEAN-UE Joint Working Group on Palm Oils should be expanded also to other vegetable oils, including coconut oil.
Ambassador Mr. Diar Nurbintoro, Acting Director, Non-Alignment Movement-Centre for South-South (NAM-CSSTC), expressed his commitment to more collaborative programs with the ICC always ready to work together and fully supporting in countering negative issues about coconut and providing support on coconut-related research and development.
There were in-depth and fruitful discussions on the further collaborative actions of the strategic implementation. In his closing remarks, His Excellency Mahendra Siregar, Vice-Ministry of Foreign Affairs expects synergy among ASEAN countries to counters the negative campaigns and provides his support to address challenges in the coconut sector, ICC’s programs and projects and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is ready to provide support in communicating at the ministerial level.