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.
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.
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.
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.
This report includes a foreword by Marcus Colchester, Forest Peoples Programme, and focuses on the local experiences of smallholders, in different areas in four countries, related to the introduction of energy crop production and its effects on their land rights and land use. Click here to read the full report.
A new oil palm plantation being developed in Indonesian Borneo (West Kalimantan) has relinquished community lands to which it had gained a government permit. The company PT Agro Wiratama, a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and subsidiary of the giant Musim Mas group, agreed to relinquish more than 1,000 hectares of its 9,000 hectare concession back to the community, following interventions by community representatives and NGOs. This is a breakthrough in the context of a pattern of development whereby millions of hectares of large-scale oil palm plantations have been established without consent on indigenous peoples’ land. Forest Peoples Programme spotted PT Agro Wiratama’s plans to open up this area on the RSPO website and alerted NGO partners in Borneo, who were able to work with the community and help them negotiate with the company and local government to get their lands recognised.
PONTIANAK - A new oil palm plantation being developed in Indonesian Borneo (West Kalimantan) has relinquished community lands to which it had gained a government permit. The company PT Agro Wiratama, a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and subsidiary of the giant Musim Mas group, agreed to relinquish more than 1,000 hectares of its 9,000 hectare concession back to the community, following interventions by community representatives and NGOs.
In response to a complaint made to the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) by a coalition of international NGOs, the World Bank's president, Robert Zoellick, has agreed to suspend further investment in the oil palm sector, pending the development of a revised strategy for dealing with the troubled sector.
UpdateFPP and 18 other NGOs, including local organisations in Indonesia, have been involved in a long-running process to get redress for the IFC’s persistent violations of its social and environmental policies in the palm oil sector in Indonesia. For over five years IFC has been providing financial support to the company Wilmar Trading / Wilmar International, one of the world’s largest palm oil dealers, directly and through various subsidiaries. In August 2007, FPP with other concerned NGOs and local organisations in Indonesia filed a complaint with the IFC Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) about this financing, alleging serious social and environmental problems in Wilmar’s operations, as well as violations of IFC’s own standards and procedures in making these credits and loans.