Yale School of Management

Palm Oil in Indonesia - Environmental and Social Aspects (FES case)

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

What would sustainable palm oil look like? 

In the following case materials, we focus specifically on the Indonesian palm oil context due to the major role Indonesia plays in producing palm oil, the drastic expansion of the Indonesian palm oil market, and the lessons that countries experimenting with palm oil can learn from Indonesia’s attempts. The focus is on the environmental and social impacts of palm oil, with an emphasis on exploring existing environmental and social science literature. We highlight areas of scientific certainty, as well as contention, and include questions regarding how groups are attempting to develop sustainable alternatives. Links are provided throughout to useful videos, audio, images, primary literature, news articles, and reports, and to particularly relevant sections of the Yale School of Management’s (SOM) palm oil case. These materials can be read on their own, in sections, or in tandem with the SOM palm oil case, which focuses more on the stakeholder dilemmas presented by palm oil production.

The case is organized in several sections:

1. Overview/Background including information on the palm oil industry in Indonesia, how land use is changing through deforestation, and the drivers of these changes
2. Biodiversity and habitat loss from palm oil expansion
3. Soil, Water, and Air impacts
4. Climate Impacts
5. Social Impacts
6. Addressing Impacts
7. Guiding Questions/Assignments

Raw, online
Case Access:
Teaching Note:
Suggested Citation:

Minna Brown, Thuy Phung, and Bradford Gentry, "Palm Oil in Indonesia: Environmental and Social Impacts," Yale F&ES Case 001, September 1, 2015

  • Indonesia
  • Palm Oil
  • Land Rights
  • Governance
  • Supply Chains
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate Change
  • Sustainability
  • Pollution
  • Women in Leadership
  • Competitor/Strategy
  • Customer/Marketing
  • Macroeconomics
  • State & Society
  • Sustainability