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Kunak, a district southern Sabah, is characterised by its limestone landscapes and an abundance of forest reserves, which make up a total of 58% of total district land area and are managed by the Sabah Forestry Department. The forest reserves are classified either as Class I, Protection Forest Reserve or as Virgin Jungle Reserves so as to conserve the watershed to protect natural resources such as biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and forest carbon stocks and the long-term viability of wildlife populations of Kunak and Tawau districts. Kunak is a key agricultural district with great potential for oil palm and cacao, with a shift in preference for the former in recent times. Approximately 65% of oil palm planted in the district is operated by large companies with the remaining 35% being privately owned or smallholdings. Given the large proportion of oil palm smallholdings, the establishment of the PPI compact in Kunak will help support the livelihoods of smallholders tremendously in the area, whilst still creating strong opportunities to protect the district’s natural resources. 

At the state level, the Sabah state government is aiming to achieve state-wide sustainable palm oil production through the implementation of Sabah Jurisdictional Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (JCSPO), based on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Jurisdictional Approach (RSPO JA) – Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, as well as through MSPO certification. Implementation of the JCSPO will be led by the Sabah JCSPO Secretariat under the umbrella of Jurisdictional Certification Steering Committee (JCSC), a multi-stakeholder coalition comprised of Sabah state agencies, civil society organizations and private sector companies. Implementation of MSPO is led by the MPOB and Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC), working together with the Sabah Department of Agriculture.

At the national level, IDH is partnering with Solidaridad to deliver the National Initiative on Sustainable and Climate Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NI-SCOPs) – to support the Malaysian Government and key stakeholders such as the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to meet the Malaysian commitments under the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the SDGs. The NI-SCOPs program works closely together with the Malaysian government to improve smallholder livelihoods and tackle climate change by adapting to the new climate, protecting forests, and preventing carbon emissions. In addition to smallholder-focused landscape interventions which will be carried out in selected sites throughout Malaysia, the program also has a strong link with Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standards, and will contribute to its review, as well as increased transparency on impacts, its implementation and enforcement.