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Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads

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Read this report in English or in Bahasa Indonesia

Growing global demand for palm oil is fuelling the large-scale expansion of oil palm plantations across Southeast Asia and Africa. Concerns about the environmental and social impacts of the conversion of vast tracts of land to monocrop plantations led in 2004 to the establishment of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which encourages oil palm expansion in ways that do not destroy high conservation values or cause social conflict. Numerous international agencies have also called for reforms of national frameworks to secure communities’ rights and to develop sound land governance.

Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads

Lea este informe en inglés o bahasa indonesia.

La creciente demanda mundial de aceite de palma está avivando la expansión a gran escala de plantaciones de palma de aceite por todo el sudeste de Asia y por África. La preocupación por las consecuencias ambientales y sociales de la conversión de vastas extensiones de tierra en plantaciones de monocultivo condujo al establecimiento en 2004 de la Mesa Redonda sobre el Aceite de Palma Sostenible (RSPO por sus siglas en inglés), la cual fomenta la expansión de la palma de aceite de maneras que no destruyan altos valores de conservación ni causen conflictos sociales. Numerosas agencias internacionales también han pedido reformas de los marcos nacionales para asegurar los derechos de las comunidades y establecer una gobernanza de la tierra buena y responsable.

New film produced by HuMa: Indonesia - Customary Forests after the Constitutional Court’s Ruling No.35

A new film by the community rights support NGO, HuMA, explains the Constitutional Court's ruling recognising that customary forests are not within State forests. While the historic ruling has opened a way towards justice for indigenous peoples to reclaim as much as 40 million hectares of their forests, the ruling still leaves it to the Government to first clarify who are indigenous peoples and where their territories actually are before the Forestry Ministry is obliged to reclassify their claimed areas as outside of State Forests.

Request for Further Consideration of the Situation of the Indigenous Peoples of Merauke, Papua Province, Indonesia, under the UN CERD's Urgent Action and Early Warning Procedures. 25 July 2013

The subject of this request is the extreme harm caused to indigenous Papuans by the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate project (the MIFEE project), a State-initiated, agro-industrial mega-project implemented by a variety of corporate entities that, to-date, encompasses around 2.5 million hectares of traditional indigenous lands in Merauke. The affected indigenous peoples have already lost a considerable area of their lands due to acquisition by these companies and conversion to plantations of one kind or another. The irreparable harm they have already experienced continues to expand and intensify as more companies commence operations. 

The World Bank’s Palm Oil Policy

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[1] 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.

La política del Banco Mundial para el aceite de palma

En 2011 el Grupo del Banco Mundial (GBM) adoptó un marco y una estrategia de inversión en el sector del aceite de palma. El nuevo planteamiento fue adoptado siguiendo las instrucciones del anterior presidente del Banco Mundial Robert Zoellick, después de que una auditoría condenatoria realizada por la Oficina del Asesor en Cumplimiento/Ombudsman (órgano semi-independiente de la Corporación Financiera Internacional [CFI]) mostrase que el personal de la CFI estaba financiando al gigante del aceite de palma Wilmar sin la diligencia debida y en contra de las normas de desempeño de la CFI. Wilmar es el mayor comerciante de aceite de palma del mundo, suministrando al menos el 45% del aceite de palma que se comercializa mundialmente. La auditoría, realizada en respuesta a una serie de quejas detalladas del Forest Peoples Programme o FPP (Programa para los Pueblos de los Bosques) y sus socios, confirmó muchas de nuestras sospechas de que Wilmar estaba ampliando sus operaciones en Indonesia violando los requisitos legales, las normas de la Mesa Redonda sobre el Aceite de Palma Sostenible (RSPO) y las normas y procedimientos de la CFI. Casi inmediatamente después de que comenzase la auditoría, la CFI se deshizo de sus numerosas inversiones de aceite de palma en el sudeste de Asia.<--break->

New briefing: Free, Prior and Informed Consent and the RSPO; Are the companies keeping their promises? Findings and recommendations from Southeast Asia and Africa

This briefing, launched on the occasion of the 10th Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT10), draws together the key findings of fourteen studies on FPIC in RSPO member/certified plantations based on the RSPO Principles & Criteria (P&C) and related Indicators and Guidance, and makes recommendations for reforms in the way palm oil companies honour the principle of FPIC and respect customary rights to land.

El consentimiento libre, previo e informado y la Mesa Redonda sobre el Aceite de Palma Sostenible: ¿las empresas están cumpliendo sus promesas?

El derecho al consentimiento libre, previo e informado (CLPI) según se estipula en los principios y criterios de la Mesa Redonda sobre el Aceite de Palma Sostenible (RSPO por sus siglas en inglés) establece cómo se pueden desarrollar acuerdos equitativos entre comunidades locales y empresas (o gobiernos) de manera tal que aseguren el respeto de los derechos legales y consuetudinarios de los pueblos indígenas y otros titulares locales de derechos[1]. De marzo a octubre de 2012, coincidiendo expresamente con el examen de los principios y criterios de la RSPO[2], el Forest Peoples Programme y sus socios locales[3] están realizando una serie de estudios independientes de plantaciones de palma de aceite a lo largo de África y el sudeste de Asia. La finalidad de estos estudios es proporcionar información de campo detallada acerca de cómo las empresas de aceite de palma están respetando adecuadamente los derechos a la tierra y al CLPI y sí lo están haciendo, exponer cualquier conducta incorrecta de éstas y presentar argumentos a favor del fortalecimiento de los procedimientos y normas de la RSPO según sea necesario.

Indonesia: controversial pulp and paper giant APP comes under scrutiny as it plans expansion but makes new promises

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is coming under intensifying scrutiny over its renewed promises to bring its giant mills and supply chains into compliance with best practice norms for sustainability and its new promises that it will respect the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples. Recently, Marcus Colchester, as Co-Chair of the High Conservation Values Resource Network and Director of FPP, and Patrick Anderson, FPP's Policy Advisor in Indonesia, met with APP's Head of Sustainability, Aida Greenbury, and her team of advisers and consultants, to clarify the company's commitments.

Rural Indonesians Demonstrate to Demand Land Rights and an End to Land Grabs

Following high profile cases of police violence and killings of rural people protesting land grabs, a new alliance of rural people - indigenous peoples, farmers, workers and landless people as well as supportive NGOs - is demanding the repeal of laws which allow the State to expropriate people's lands and resources in favour or large businesses. They are also demanding the passing of new laws that secure the people's rights in land and ensure ecological justice, through agrarian reforms and the recognition of indigenous peoples' rights.