Golden Agri-Resources still in violation of RSPO standards
Golden Agri-Resources, which owns Indonesia’s largest palm oil conglomerate operating under the brand name Sinar Mas, is still in violation of RSPO standards, according to Forest Peoples Programme. FPP recently affirmed this in a follow up letter and detailed submission to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, following a field review of the situation in one of GAR’s subsidiaries, PT Kartika Prima Cipta, carried out in February along with local partner LinkAR-Borneo.
Among the shortcoming indentified by FPP and LinkAR-Borneo is that participatory mapping of community lands, which The Forest Trust is undertaking for GAR, remains very incomplete. There are still weaknesses in the revised HCV assessment, which was compiled in September 2014 but which should have been completed eight years ago. Owing to systemic shortcomings in GAR’s application of RSPO-required procedures for land acquisition, some communities were persuaded to give up their lands without understanding the costs and benefits or the legal implications of the agreements they entered into. Despite admitting shortcomings and ‘misperceptions’, GAR is refusing to renegotiate the 5,000 hectares of lands taken without due process and without communities’ ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’.
Moreover, only about half of the promised area of smallholdings has yet been planted and while GAR has rhetorically committed to planting the remaining area, it says lands for such cannot be allocated from the core estate nor is any additional land available in the area set aside for smallholders.
FPP has called on the RSPO Complaints Panel to make further determinations on GAR’s performance and to penalise the company for violations. FPP is also demanding that sanctions be imposed on the company which approved GAR’s defective submissions to RSPO’s New Plantings Procedure, which GAR has now admitted were defective and which GAR has now withdrawn.
Some important gains have however been made. Under pressure from the local communities and NGOs, PT Kartika Prima Cipta has now excluded most of the lands of those communities, which have been refusing oil palm, from the area of its final land use permit. GAR says it will now upgrade its HCV assessments, will roll out revised procedures for land acquisition and conflict resolution and complete its mapping of community lands. It has also frozen all land clearance in its 18 subsidiaries and agreed to resubmit notifications to the New Plantings Procedure before any further land clearance is undertaken.
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