In a controversial press statement, the Indonesian Government has misrepresented an IUCN report to justify its own agenda to plant more palm oil and cast doubt as to the validity of claims of the palm oil c
The International Finance Corporation Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (IFC CAO) has formally announced its withdrawal from the case of PT Asiatic Persada, following the sale of the concession by Wilmar in April 2013, and the new management’s decision to continue mediation through a government team instead. This is despite the fact that the affected Batin Sembilan communities and complaint signatory NGOs have repeatedly called on the IFC CAO to continue its role as mediator and to encourage the company to pursue this avenue towards conflict resolution.
Oil palm giant and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) member, Wilmar, has agreed the sale of its oil palm concession PT Asiatic Persada, without prior consultation or respect for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of indigenous Batin Sembilan communities already engaged in a land conflict mediation process.
In 2011, the World Bank Group (WBG) adopted a Framework and Strategy for investment in the palm oil sector. The new approach was adopted on the instructions of former World Bank President Robert Zoellick, after a damning audit by International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) semi-independent Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) had shown that IFC staff were financing the palm oil giant, Wilmar, without due diligence and contrary to the IFC’s Performance Standards. Wilmar is the world’s largest palm oil trader, supplying no less than 45% of globally traded palm oil. The audit, carried out in response to a series of detailed complaints from Forest Peoples Programme and partners, vindicated many of our concerns that Wilmar was expanding its operations in Indonesia in violation of legal requirements, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards and IFC norms and procedures. Almost immediately after the audit was triggered, IFC divested itself of its numerous other palm oil investments in Southeast Asia.
Public indignation about the depredations of ill-regulated business has led to a growing recognition of the responsibilities of businesses to respect human rights, as well as the need for stronger regulations to improve the way products are made and ensure that environments and peoples’ rights are respected and protected. There is now greater awareness that what is urgently needed is strengthened environmental stewardship and land governance, reforms of land tenure, and improved enforcement of revised and just laws.
On 9 – 11 October 2012, Forest Peoples Programme and Sawit Watch, with the support of Cambodian NGO Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) co-organised a workshop, ‘Making the Bali Declaration Effective: The Phnom Penh Workshop on Human Rights and Agribusiness’, as a follow-up event to the Bali Workshop on Human Rights and Agribusiness of 2011. Hosted by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the workshop was attended by National Human Rights Commissioners from Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar, South Korea and Timor-Leste, the Indonesian representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), concerned Southeast Asian NGOs and the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food and on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This Joint Statement is the outcome of a conference held in Medan on 5 - 10 November 2012, organised by Darma Agung University and grassroots organisation Lentera Rakyat, on land grabbing and oil palm plantations in Southeast Asia.
Concluding a three day meeting in Phnom Penh convened by the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, with the support of Forest Peoples Programme, SawitWatch and the Community Legal Education Center of Cambodia, South East Asian Human Rights Commissions called for action to protect communities and indigenous peoples from the expansion of agribusiness.
The right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria establishes how equitable agreements between local communities and companies (and governments) can be developed in ways that ensure the legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples and other local rights-holders are respected.
Constructive dialogue and potential synergies between the National Human Rights Commissions and Institutions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia, reached an important milestone at a four-day workshop in November in Bali, Indonesia. The workshop was convened by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission and organised by Forest Peoples Programme and Indonesian NGO SawitWatch, with the support of the Rights and Resources Initiative, Samdhana Institute and RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests.
This landmark workshop on “Human Rights and Business: Plural Legal Approaches to Conflict Resolution, Institutional Strengthening and Legal Reform” was attended by 60 participants, including notable academics, indigenous peoples’ representatives and members of supportive national and international NGOs. An opening statement was made by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, and a presentation was delivered by Raja Devasish Roy, elected Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNFPII) and traditional chief of the Chakma circle in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh.
To read this news article please go to: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/02/02/five-villagers-gunned-down-land-dispute.html
and a later article in the Jakarta Post: "More victims identified in Riau land dispute": http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/02/04/more-victims-identified-riau-land-dispute.html
Globally oil palm plantations continue to expand at a rapid rate. World leader, Indonesia, has raced past Malaysia to become the number one producer. Latest data from the Indonesian watchdog NGO, SawitWatch, suggests that oil palm plantations in Indonesia now cover 11 million hectares, up from 6 million hectares only five years ago. New plantings are spreading to the smaller islands of the archipelago and to the less developed areas of eastern Indonesia. Hopes that a Presidential promise of a 2 year moratorium on forest clearance would slow the crop’s expansion – part of a deal to reduce green house gas emissions - have also evaporated as the government has excepted areas where preliminary permits have already been handed out.
FPP has published two new publications; 'Oil Palm Expansion in South East Asia: Trends and implications for local communities and indigenous peoples' and 'Divers paths to justice: Legal pluralism and the rights of indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia'.
This request concerns the situation of the Malind and other indigenous peoples of the Merauke District, Papua Province, in the Republic of Indonesia. The Malind and others are presently experiencing and are threatened with additional and imminent irreparable harm due to the massive and non-consensual alienation and conversion of their ancestral lands and forests by the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate project (“MIFEE project”).
In January the World Bank and its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), released a substantially revised draft of their framework and strategy for engagement in the palm oil sector. The text, circulated for 30 days of public comment, is due to be submitted for approval - after revisions based on any comments received - to the President and Board of Directors in March or April 2011. If the text is approved, the World Bank will then end the worldwide funding moratorium for palm oil projects that it agreed to in 2009 after an internal audit (carried out in response to FPP and partners’ complaints) revealed major violations of due diligence and serious social and environmental impacts.
Article on Charles Stewart Mott Foundation website, covering the work of Forest Peoples Programme and partner Sawit Watch. By Maggie Jaruzel Potter. The following is an excerpt from the article:
"Marcus Colchester, through his work with the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), helps local NGOs and indigenous people hold governments and international financial institutions (IFIs) accountable for their investment decisions.
For many years, he says, FPP has focused its efforts on creating awareness and mobilizing Indonesians to reform the global palm oil industry, which markets its product for food, cosmetics and as bio-fuel. Since the 1980s, Colchester says, the palm oil industry has received more than $2 billion from the World Bank.
He and his FPP colleagues have many years of experience working with policymakers and IFIs directly, but they don’t start there. Instead, FPP uses the bottom-up approach like CASA, working first with people on the ground before sharing what it has learned with top-level policymakers, Colchester says.
“We take our lead from the local people,” he said. “What has been the secret to our success is our alliance with people on the ground, at the village level, who know exactly what is going on.”
Excerpt from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation website:
"Marcus Colchester is director of the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the United Kingdom that supports the rights of those who live in forests and depend upon them for their livelihoods. FPP staff members help people secure their rights, control their land and decide their future. Mott Foundation Communications Officer Maggie Jaruzel Potter conducted a phone interview with Colchester about the organization’s work, which is supported through the International Finance for Sustainability focus area of Mott’s Environment program. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.
Since the 1980s, the World Bank Group has invested more than US$2 billion to promote the global trade in palm oil. The expansion of the crop in intensive mono-cultures, especially in Southeast Asia, has been associated with the extensive clearance of tropical forests, land grabbing and widespread human rights abuses. In response to our complaints, the World Bank Group froze funding for the sector worldwide while it came up with a comprehensive strategy for engagement. A first draft document was released in July for comments. It has failed to address the main issues raised in the consultation, therefore Forest Peoples Programme and its partners have again appealed to the World Bank President for a rethink.
Forest Peoples Programme, Sawit Watch, and Urgewald