Terpercaya is the ‘flagship’ program to establish an EU presence in the ASEAN palm oil sector and begin to weave itself into the dialogue and policy making efforts around domestic sustainability and deforestation policies.
The EU sought to achieve this by working to develop a set of indicators that would verify the sustainability of different commodities produced within different administrative areas – at the provincial level, rather than at the national level.
While technical and covert, the program was ultimately designed to deceive and circumvent national governments in an effort to mislead the public about its true intentions and begin to undue progress made by domestic sustainability and deforestation efforts.
What is Terpercaya?
Terpercaya was launched in 2017 as an initiative to establish a regional EU presence and gain traction with the governments and domestic stakeholders.
Terpercaya was the first and more technical of the EU programs. Run by the European Forest Institute (EFI), it was designed to help develop a set of indicators that would verify the sustainability of different commodities produced within different administrative areas – at the provincial level, rather than at the national level.
The Terpercaya Initiative, as outlined by EFI and the EU, “focuses on legality and sustainability in agricultural commodity production at the district and province level” and “seeks to inform and support national policies related to climate change and sustainability.”
The “jurisdictional approach” of the Terpercaya project was an intentional move designed to circumvent national governments in Southeast Asia, namely because they were seen as strong defenders of palm oil who would not give in to the EU’s demands. Instead, the project focused on sub-national levels or non-diplomatic Ministries in an effort to influence domestic sustainability and deforestation policies from the bottom up. The hidden intentions of the Terpercaya project matched its low profile, and many within the sector had no idea this was even occurring. Ultimately, the program was intended to deceive, and it has done just that, by using EU funds to discretely influence sustainability and deforestation policies the EU could not combat publically.