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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.

FPP E-Newsletter October 2013 (PDF Version)

Dear Friends,

The principle that the enjoyment of human rights is both the means and the goal of development, highlights the importance of human rights monitoring as a means for empowering rights-holders to exercise their rights, whilst holding States and other actors accountable for their human rights obligations.   

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.

FPP E-Newsletter February 2012 (PDF Version)

Dear Friends,

Balancing human beings’ need for decent livelihoods against the imperative of securing our environment is, arguably, the biggest challenge facing our planet. This struggle between ‘development’ and ‘conservation’ is being played out in global policy negotiations, with the decisions of so-called policy-makers being imposed on the ground. But not everything is or should be ‘top down’. Enduring solutions also spring from the grassroots, from the ‘bottom up’.

South East Asian Human Rights Commissioners and Indigenous Peoples’ Organisations adopt Bali Declaration on Human Rights and Agribusiness

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.

New FPP Publications:

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'.

The indigenous peoples of Cameroon: from Ngoyla-Mintom to national recognition

In dialogue with parliament and the government

Compared to the 1990s and the start of the 21st century, the question of giving recognition to the indigenous peoples of Cameroon has, in recent years, become a central issue, if still in a somewhat tentative way.

Indeed, on the 1st and 2nd of September 2011 in Yaounde, Cameroon, parliament and the government held a dialogue on indigenous peoples. The meeting brought together members of the National Assembly (under the umbrella of the Parliamentarians’ Network, REPAR), representatives of ministries with projects affecting indigenous peoples, development partners, UN special representatives and a substantial delegation of indigenous peoples: Baka, Bakola, Bagyeli and Bororo. A new phenomenon was the willingness to consider what is involved in giving recognition to indigenous communities, as was demonstrated by the extensive question and answer sessions between the members of the National Assembly and the indigenous peoples.

9th RRI Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change, London, February 2011

The 9th RRI Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change, co-organized with Forest Peoples Programme, Tebtebba and Forest Trends, took place in London, UK on 8 February 2011. The Dialogue drew together a number of key actors involved in REDD, including representatives from Indigenous Peoples organizations, governments of UK Mexico and Norway, the banking sector, NGOs and researchers.

The consensus emerging from the discussion was that REDD should not proceed before clear safeguards are put in place. Gregory Barker, British minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change outlined that before REDD projects take place, it is crucial to assess drivers of deforestation, secure clarity of land tenure and ensure equitable benefit-sharing for Indigenous Peoples. To that end, he assured that the UK government will apply safeguards in bilateral REDD agreements with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Despite this commitment he avoided mentioning whether the UK would push for stronger safeguards in the readiness processes of the World Bank’s FCPF initiative.