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.
Evidence to support RSPO Complaint by Liberian communities affected by land clearance and planting by Golden Veroleum
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 provides an account of a short investigation carried out by the RSPO's Ad Hoc Working Group on High Conservation Values in Indonesia. It is being circulated to promote comprehension and discussion about the legal and procedural obstacles to securing such values in the oil palm sector in Indonesia with the view to promoting changes and legal reforms in order to secure these values more effectively. This version includes detailed comments on the report by Wilmar International.
Agri-business expansion in Africa is a major threat to the forests and livelihoods of African peoples. Where governance is weak and the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples are insecure, agricultural development is disadvantaging local people.
Awareness of the social and ecological impact of agri-business expansion in South East Asia has led to new standards for acceptable palm oil development. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a third-party voluntary certification process, has adopted a set of Principles and Criteria that is substantially consistent with a rights-based approach, and which seeks to divert palm oil expansion away from primary forests and areas of critical High Conservation Value (HCV) while prohibiting the takeover of customary lands without communities’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Increasingly, adherence to the RSPO standard is becoming a requirement for access to the European market and major palm oil producing conglomerates seeking to maintain market share are now members of the RSPO.
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.
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.
This report summarises the findings of a field investigation and legal study which shows how voluntary efforts by companies to set aside areas for community livelihoods and for conservation are being frustrated by the ill-fit between the RSPO's procedures - using the 'High Conservation Values' approach - and national laws and procedures. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is to meet in Kuala Lumpur from 1-4 November 2009.
A synthesis of training materials devised for communities and companies, and also local government, about how successful procedures can be carried out in line with the principle of FPIC - free, prior and informed consent - to enable indigenous peoples, local communities and other stakeholders to express their views in negotiations and for these views and wishes to be included in the RSPO's decision-making processes.
In July 2007, Forest Peoples Programme with 18 other NGOs including local groups in Indonesia filed a complaint with the International Finance Corporation's (IFC) Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) about the IFC's funding of the palm oil producing and trading company, Wilmar. The complaint raised concerns about the impacts of Wilmar's operations on local communities, company violations of Indonesian laws and environmental policies, and IFC staff's violations of IFC policies and procedures. We also complained that the IFC, as a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), was contravening RSPO rules by asserting on the IFC website that Wilmar's operations were compliant with the RSPO's standard.
This report reveals escalating conflicts between indigenous peoples and oil palm companies due to the rapid expansion of plantations in the Malaysian State of Sarawak. Based on field interviews with community representatives in 12 different villages the report details:
- rapid rate of expansion of oil palm plantations in Sarawak
- reasons for the conflicts over native customary lands
- why some 40 legal cases about land conflicts between communities and oil palm companies are now clogging the courts in Sarawak
- concerns raised by the communities about the plantations
- how the process of oil palm development in Sarawak is contrary to international standards adopted by the Rountable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
- recommendations for reform
'It's as if we are ghosts on our own land. We have been so pierced through by the spines on the oil palm that we are almost dead, left haunting what was once our own land. We don't usually say this, but this is how it is really. We need to make our case ourselves and explain how the oil palm is hurting us.' The words of a participant at one of the many workshops documented in this illustrated book which addresses the principles and practicalities of standard setting in palm-oil production under the umbrella of the 'Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil' (RSPO).
ISBN 979-15188-2-3 Also available in Bahasa as a book from the FPP office: email@example.com
THIS BOOK HAS BEEN ATTACHED HERE IN SECTIONS DUE TO THE SIZE OF THE FILES. THERE IS ALSO A PDF TEXT ONLY VERSION. HARD COPY OF BOOK AVAILABLE FROM FPP OFFICE IN BOTH ENGLISH AND BAHASA.