Sustainable palm oil production

Biofuels are generally considered promising options for climate change mitigation. This leads to a rapid expansion of palm oil cultivation in the producing countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. This fast expansion of palm oil production is often leading to deforestation and other negative impacts on the environment, landscape and indigenous people. Increasing the sustainability of palm oil production is a complex and challenging issue which requires insight in social concerns, ecosystem services and environmental aspects. Many studies exist on sustainable issues from single perspectives, analysing for instance only the impact on biodiversity, carbon sequestration, or other issues. So far, studies addressing social, landscape and environmental aspects simultaneously are limited. There is a need for integrated models to analyse these complex impacts of the palm oil production, taking into account the causes of the problems, their impacts and possible solutions.

Kanokwan Saswattecha is a PhD candidate under the INREF-SUSPENSE project. She  will develop an integrated model to assess the environmental and social impact of palm oil production taking Thailand as a case study. Stakeholders will be involved in this study to increase model usability. The research will identify sustainable pathways for palm oil production.  

Aim of the project

The project aims to perform an integration of sectoral and landscape analysis to improve the sustainable palm oil production in Thailand. The sub-objectives are

  1. To develop an integrated model  of palm oil production in Thailand
  2. To better understand the environmental and social impact of palm oil production in Thailand
  3. To identify possible solutions for policy makers


  • Model development - Combined sector analysis approach (Life cycle analysis, flow balance, criteria analysis) with landscape analysis approach (land use change, biodiversity, flood risk)
  • Model evaluation - Sensitivity analysis/ uncertainty analysis
  • Search for solutions - Scenario analysis/ cost benefit analysis.

(Expected) results

An integrated model to assess the impacts associated with palm oil production. The identified impacts will be prioritized and used to formulate possible solutions

More information

For more information, please visit the INREF-SUSPENSE website.