On the 4th of April 2017 the European Parliament adopted a report by GUE/NGL MEP Kateřina Konečná calling on the Commission to move decisively towards the responsible cultivation of palm oil and to phase out its use for biofuels.
Marcus Colchester, FPP’s Senior Policy Advisor, said ‘The European Parliament’s call for an end to the trade in destructively produced palm oil is very welcome. Through our work with indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia, West and Central Africa and Latin America, we are all too aware that most palm oil is produced on lands that are, in effect, stolen from the local communities without their consent and at the cost of severe damage to their livelihoods and the ecosystems they depend on’.
According to the Forest Peoples Programme, if producer governments want to clean up palm oil’s reputation, then they need to urgently enact legislation that effectively recognises and secures the land rights of local communities and indigenous peoples in line with international human rights norms. They also need to halt the hand out of colonial-style concessions over untitled lands and forests and revoke recent permits.
‘Indonesia recently announced a moratorium on new permits but this may be locking the stable door after the horse has bolted’ said Colchester. ‘Indonesia already has 12 million hectares of oil palm plantations while a further 8 to 10 million hectares of permits, for as yet unplanted areas, have already been handed to companies. Most of these areas are owned and occupied by indigenous peoples, local farmers and fisherfolk. Oil palm cannot recover its dirty image until the land grabbing ends.’
Commenting on efforts to curb palm oil’s worst excesses through voluntary certification by schemes such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Colchester noted: ‘RSPO’s standards are quite good on paper. The problem is that the standard is poorly monitored and even more weakly enforced. FPP, as a member of RSPO, has been pressing for the system to be tightened up but there is a lot of pushback from producer companies. The trouble is they want a green image without having to change the way they do business.’