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’.
This Technical Guide is the third in a series that has been developed to support implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, which were officially endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security on 11 May 2012, since when they have received approval from various forums, including the G20, Rio+ 20, and the United Nations General Assembly. The other FAO technical guides in this series include guides to: responsible gender-equitable governance of land tenure; improving governance of forest tenure; and, improved governance of tenure in fisheries.
Although this review concerns the SIFCA Group’s Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP) in particular – with Wilmar and Olam being notable investors in SIFCA – it is hoped that as well as being a constructive contribution to resolving issues in contention in that context, the experiences presented by this review will give practical and scalable lessons that the private sector, government, civil society and community actors can use to ensure compliance with legal and voluntary FPIC obligations in particular, and the respect of customary land rights generally. By creating an enabling environment within which communities can play a decisive role in determining their own development visions, the risks of costly and disruptive conflict highlighted by the FAO’s Technical Guide to FPIC can be minimised, and the benefits of sustainable development properly realised.
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