What is NI-SCOPS?

What is NI-SCOPS?
National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NI-SCOPS) have been developed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Ghana, in close collaboration with the countries’ governments. The Dutch government supported the inception of the initiative in four countries in 2019 and 2020. At this point, agreements have been signed, commitments of the public and private sector made and baselines have been conducted. The initiatives are ready to scale up! 

The initiatives aim to demonstrate that the palm oil sector can contribute to the SDGs and Paris Agreement climate ambitions while improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and workers. Palm oil-producing areas or landscapes will become more economically robust and socially just while protecting and restoring valuable natural resources leading to a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture and land-use change. NI-SCOPS will strengthen existing partnerships and build new partnerships with national and subnational governments, reporting transparently on progress in each country. 

Why are supply chain initiatives not enough?
Most international palm oil sustainability initiatives are voluntary and market-driven, and use the buying power of brands to demand sustainability improvements from producers. Such initiatives, like RSPO, have ‘raised the bar’ in the sector and have been able to transform 20-25% of global output to ‘certified sustainable’ in the last decade. But this is not enough, especially to address issues beyond the certified farm unit: land rights, deforestation, and community livelihoods. Besides raising the bar for voluntary corporate action, we must raise the floor leaving no one behind. NI-SCOPS is inclusive, also targeting landscapes and producer groups where certification is difficult or uneconomical. And it ‘raises the floor’ by partnering with (local) governments to guide all land users on the path to climate-smart agriculture and forest conservation. The national initiatives are public-sector partnership programmes, co-owned by national and local governments, connecting the programme to national goals, policies, and frameworks. All producing countries have established national working groups that include all relevant ministries and agencies and reached bilateral agreements with the Netherlands in 2019 on financial support for the initiatives. In order to scale the programme, the National Initiatives are now looking for co-funding support from palm oil consuming and producing countries.

Why should you invest in NI-SCOPS? 
There are three main reasons for investing in NI-SCOPS : 

Demonstrable Impact

NI-SCOPS engages at the landscape level in selected states and provinces, and is closely connected to policy- and decision-making processes at the national level in all four countries. It has explicit government endorsement and major private sector players are collaborating with Solidaridad and IDH. This holistic and inclusive approach generates more impact in less time compared to traditional climate or development interventions. To ensure credibility, progress is reported annually using scientifically robust KPIs, that have been approved by the producer country governments.

Achieve Climate and Sustainable Development Policy Commitments 

NI-SCOPS is closely aligned with the producer countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. It also generates evidence (through the reporting on adaptation and mitigation KPIs) that their efforts contribute to combating climate change. Supporting NI-SCOPS means measurably contributing to the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.

Opportunity for Dialogue with Producer Countries

Governments that support NI-SCOPS obtain access to decision-makers in key producer country ministries (trade, agriculture, planning, environment) that are involved in governance and implementation of NI-SCOPS. This provides opportunities to develop bilateral cooperation and agreements under the NI-SCOPS umbrella.

What will NI-SCOPS do about tropical deforestation linked to palm oil?
NI-SCOPS creates a multi-stakeholder platform at the province or district level, where agreement is reached on climate-smart development: improving livelihoods and income, increasing resilience to climate shocks, and reducing emissions from farming and deforestation. Farmers, companies, and governments all commit to change to more sustainable practices. NI-SCOPS will facilitate and monitor this transition, and support the generation of national and international development- and climate finance to scale up from 2022 onwards. In this way, palm oil-producing areas or landscapes will become more economically robust and socially just, while protecting and restoring valuable natural resources leading to a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture and land-use change. 

Do companies participate in NI-SCOPS?
Brands and traders that have committed to NDPE or zero-deforestation policies (e.g. through participation in the Tropical Forest Alliance and New York Declaration on Forests) and/or jurisdictional or landscape approaches are keen to support NI-SCOPS. Companies can sign partnership agreements with IDH or Solidaridad, and promote landscape governance, especially in areas where uptake of certification by smallholders remains low. 

What is the role of producer country governments?
The national governments of the four producing countries assume responsibility to deliver and report on the KPIs with support from the NI-SCOPS implementation team. Internal collaboration between ministries (environment, agriculture, trade, planning) has already improved through the establishment of National Technical Committees, where senior staff from all relevant government agencies and ministries are represented. Local governments in the selected landscapes have started to invest in-kind, for example by improving physical infrastructure, or by appointing personnel to local projects. NI-SCOPS provides a way out of the increasingly polarized debate on palm oil, both for producer and consumer countries. By sharing the responsibility NI-SCOPS opens doors for government-to-government dialogue on sustainable commodity trade and climate change while addressing environmental and socio-economic issues. 

What are the deliverables of the initiatives? 
The initiatives comprise interventions nationally (policy and stakeholder engagement), and sub-nationally (state- or province-level spatial planning, district-level implementation of climate-smart agriculture and forest conservation/restoration). KPIs have been agreed at the national level for each of the pillars of climate smart agriculture: 

  1. Food security & improved livelihoods for oil palm smallholders;
  2. Improved Adaptive Capacity;
  3. Mitigation (Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions) through climate-smart agricultural practices and forest conservation and restoration.

IDH, Solidaridad, and local partners use the same, scientifically robust methods to measure results and impact against these KPIs. Besides the nationally applicable and standardized KPIs, IDH and Solidaridad apply their own detailed landscape monitoring tools, providing all partners with detailed information on inputs, outputs, and outcomes of the initiatives.

Where are the initiatives located?
Although policy buy-in and technical committees are established for the entire country, the subnational (state/province) and local (district / LGU) activities will be focusing on a limited number of areas with high relevance (climate change vulnerability and/or high rates of deforestation combined with persistent poverty or labour issues). The below maps show the sub-national jurisdictions where implementation has started in 2020.


NI-SCOPS jurisdictions in Indonesia and Malaysia

NI-SCOPS jurisdictions in Nigeria 


NI-SCOPS jurisdictions in Ghana


Who are the partners? 
Solidaridad and IDH coordinate and implement the National Initiatives, with national partners in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Ghana. Seed funding for the inception (2019) and part of the first implementation phase (2020-2023) has been provided by the government of the Netherlands.

How can you become a NI-SCOPS partner? 
There are three different ways you can engage with the NI-SCOPS programme:
A: As a Steering Group Donor to Solidaridad and/or IDH you co-fund one or more initiatives for at least 25% of the multi-year budget. In return, you do not only get the results of the programme (improved livelihoods, adaptation, and mitigation), but you are also invited to participate biannually in steering group meetings and have access to the National Technical Committees. The Steering Group is consulted on the annual plans of the initiatives and, once the current scopes of the Initiatives are fully funded, you have a say in where additional Initiatives are established in the future. 

B:  As a Silent Donor you can provide Solidaridad and/or IDH with grants for one or more initiatives, and in return receive (and claim) the results achieved with your contribution. You will receive the relevant annual plans, progress reports, and have access to the KPI dashboard of the initiative(s) you support. The IDH-Solidaridad secretariat will manage the grant on your behalf, so this option requires very little staff capacity from your end. 

C: It is also possible for Donors to support NI-SCOPS through bilateral agreements with any of the partner countries. This requires the signing of an MoU designating a portion of the aid to pay for NI-SCOPS activities undertaken by the national government in question, or by Solidaridad or IDH as implementation partners. As the Netherlands has gone through this process already, the NI-SCOPS secretariat can support such a process, if desired, at cost price.

In what way can a G2G relationship with one or more production countries be established? 

In line with the partnership options above, the government engagement options are:

  1. Join NI-SCOPS as a steering group donor (option A above) and obtain observer status in NI-SCOPS technical meetings and official events and presentations, in-country and internationally (CoP26, Glasgow);
  2. Indirectly through a Knowledge partnership, PPP, or funding one or more  landscape projects as a ‘silent donor’ (option B above); 
  3. Directly, through a separate bilateral MoU/LoI at the national level (option C above).