The Indonesian government has issued an industrial timber plantation licence for use on the Zanegi community’s customary lands to timber company PT Selaras Inti Semesta, a subsidiary of the Medco Group, whose concession extends over 169,400 ha, and which is one of over 80 companies operating as part of the government-sponsored Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) agro-industrial mega-project.
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.
The Malind Anim tribe in Zanegi village, Merauke, Papua, Indonesia are hunter gatherers who rely on the forest for their livelihoods. They are born, raised and get food from the forest. But in the village of Zanegi, times have changed. The MedCo corporation is clearing thousands of hectares of forest, with plans to convert 169,000 hectares of land to industrial tree plantations as part of the million hectaure Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate, known as MIFEE.