This review is the result of several years of fieldwork by the Liberian civil society organisation Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development (SESDev), in partnership with the UK-based Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), and is part of a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) funded project that examines putting into practice in Liberia the FAO Technical Guide entitled ‘Respecting free, prior and informed consent, Practical guidance for governments, companies, NGOs, indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to land acquisition’.
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.
Nigerian NGOs and community leaders have filed a formal complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil challenging the proposals of the palm oil transnational Wilmar International to expand its operations in Cross River State in the Southeast of the country.
Indonesia’s largest palm oil company, Sinar Mas, ran into trouble recently when communities in Liberia complained about a 33,000 ha.