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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.

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.

Cordaid partners' new publication - Biofuel Partnerships: from battleground to common ground? The effects of biofuel programs on smallholders' use of land and rights to land in four countries

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.

Precedent-setting land deal in palm oil expansion zone in Borneo

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. 

Read recent FPP, Sawit Watch, Gemawan and Kontak Press Release

Press Release: Precedent-setting land deal in palm oil expansion zone in Borneo. 21 March 2011

 

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.

Serious setbacks in IFC’s handling of complaints about its support for Wilmar CAO admission of validity of NGO complaint regarding Wilmar ignored by IFC

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.