Recent Forest and Land-Use Policy Changes in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo: Are They Truly Transformational?
Scientists and academics are pushing for rapid transformational change to address large-scale deforestation and degradation which is directly contributing to the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Within Malaysian Borneo, the state of Sabah has been an early mover and was one of the first states in the world to adopt the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) jurisdictional approach; a large-scale policy shift that could be seen as transformational.
This paper, using case study analysis and interviews with key stakeholders, analyses the policy changes occurring within the forest and palm oil sectors of Sabah. It examines what led the state to deviating from business-as-usual activities, as well as which policies helped to support this change in policy direction.
The paper highlights that although adopting the RSPO jurisdictional approach was a great step forward in addressing the issues of deforestation, other steps must be taken to ensure effective implementation on the ground. This includes the development of a more sustainable and equitable national economy, and greater involvement from consumer countries to play a role in reducing pressures on forests by providing incentives to a state that manages its natural resources sustainably.