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Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads

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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.

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.

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.

Making Palm Oil Accountable?

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.

FPP Series on Rights, Forests and Climate - October 2011: REDD+ in Indonesia

OverviewFor several years the Forest Peoples Programme has worked with the national NGO Pusaka and local partners in six Indonesian provinces and at the national level, to help indigenous peoples, local communities and local NGOs understand REDD+ and the obligations on governments and  REDD+ developers to respect community rights. These briefings draw on this work and review REDD+ developments in Aceh, Riau, Central Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, Papua and West Papua and at the national level, from the perspective of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

HCV and the RSPO: Report of an independent investigation into the effectiveness of the application of High Conservation Value zoning in palm oil development in Indonesia

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.