Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Palm oil & RSPO

Palm Oil and Forest Peoples’ Rights

The rapid growth in palm oil production to feed global demands for edible oils and biofuels is causing serious social and environmental problems yet plantations are set to double their extent in the next 20 years. In close partnership with affected peoples and supportive non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) has been documenting these abuses and challenging the palm oil industry to stop grabbing people’s lands without their consent and resolve the huge number of existing land conflicts. 

With our partners, we have played a key role in ensuring that the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), formed in 2004 in response to the urgent and pressing global call for sustainably produced palm oil, both adopts and upholds standards consistent with international human rights laws and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.  The RSPO is a not-for-profit association composed of stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry - oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs - to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. As part of a coalition with international and national NGOs and community based organisations in Africa and South East Asia, Forest Peoples Programme helps document abuses, promote dialogue with palm oil companies aimed at securing community lands, resolving existing conflicts and preventing further abuse, in line with international laws and agreed norms.

While the aim of the RSPO is to divert the expanding palm oil frontier away from primary forests and areas of high conservation value and to proscribe land-grabbing, Forest Peoples Programme and partners have focused their efforts on requiring member companies to respect the customary rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, including their right to give or withhold consent to palm oil operations planned on their lands (Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)). FPP and partners are also involved in the RSPO Smallholders Task Force, the RSPO Biodiversity and High Conservation Value Working Group, and the, yet to be activated, RSPO Human Rights Working Group.

In 2012, Forest Peoples Programme carried out a series of field studies in RSPO member/certified companies across Southeast Asia and Africa to provide detailed field information on how and whether the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent is being applied adequately by companies, to expose any malpractice of palm oil companies and to argue for a strengthening of national laws and policies and of the RSPO procedures and standards. Through field research, irregularities were documented and the information was made available to relevant parties in order to support redress. The studies are also being used as inputs to the RSPO’s ongoing review of its own standard in which FPP and partners are closely engaged.

Forest Peoples Programme and partners are also active in many other fora to reform the palm oil sector and halt the abuse of people’s rights, including through investors such as the World Bank Groups and private sector banks such as HSBC, the activation of human rights complaints procedures and efforts to reform regional standards and national laws so that they respect forest peoples’ rights.

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The Maninjau Resolution

3 February, 2016

The Maninjau Resolution

28th January 2016

Wilmar’s broken promises: we want action not just pledges

The world’s largest palm oil trading company, Wilmar International Ltd. (F34.SI / WLIL.SI), promised ‘Zero Exploitation’ throughout its supply chain alongside its commitment to ‘Zero Deforestation’. As human rights workers and NGOs that support the rights of the indigenous peoples and local communities in Indonesia and internationally, we NGOs who assembled here near Lake Maninjau in West Sumatra on 26-28 January 2016, declare the following.

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Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guide for RSPO Members (2015)

25 January, 2016

Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guide for RSPO Members (2015)

The Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guide for RSPO Members (2015) has been endorsed by the RSPO Board of Governors following its meeting on 20 November 2015 in Kuala Lumpur.  This document will come into force with immediate effect and replaces the previous version “Free, Prior and Informed Consent and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – A Guide for Companies (October 2008)” stated in the RSPO Princ

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Human rights violations and agribusiness – Justice now for impacted communities!

14 December, 2015

Concerned human rights groups meet at the 5th Regional Meeting on Human Rights and Agribusiness in South East Asia

The raging forest fires in Indonesia and numerous extrajudicial killings related to agribusiness land grabs throughout South East Asia have made headlines all over the world. These shocking violations of peoples’ fundamental human rights have compelled concerned human rights groups to come together at the 5th Regional Meeting on Human Rights and Agribusiness in South East Asia during the 5th and the 6th of November 2015 in Puerto Princesa, on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.

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Protecting the Amazon is the key to resolving the climate crisis

11 December, 2015

December 11 2015: It is 11.30 in the morning in Paris, the negotiation among the members of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) is crucial to build consensus towards a new global climate agreement, an agreement that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus mitigate climate change.

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Indigenous peoples' organisation FECONAU and indigenous community present first Peruvian complaint to RSPO regarding harmful oil palm development on their lands in the Amazon region

8 December, 2015

Yarinacocha, December 5th 2015: Today on the 5th of December 2015 we, the Federación de Comunidades Nativas del Ucayali – FECONAU (Federation of Native Communities of Ucayali) representing 35 communities of the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous people from the Ucayali region and Santa Clara de Uchunya, located in Requena, Ucayali region in Peru, presented our formal complaint to the RSPO mechanism against the company Plantaciones de Pucallpa SAC, member of the RSPO.

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Asserting community land rights using RSPO complaint procedures in Indonesia and Liberia

Tom Lomax/FPP
IIED

1 December, 2015

Asserting community land rights using RSPO complaint procedures in Indonesia and Liberia

The complaints procedure of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is one of the options available to communities threatened by the negative impacts of the palm oil industry. Drawing on direct experiences of supporting communities to use the RSPO complaints mechanism in Indonesia and Liberia, this review summarises how communities can get the most out of this procedure. Realistic outcomes include a temporary freeze on plantation development by palm oil companies while longer term solutions are negotiated.

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Press Release: “We are going to kill you”: Indigenous activist’s life in danger after opposing destruction of Peruvian Amazon

18 November, 2015

London, 18 November 2015: Washington Bolivar, an indigenous activist in Peru has received another sinister death threat in the immediate wake of his efforts to challenge the destruction of Amazon rainforest for timber extraction and conversion to oil palm.

In the course of the last month, human rights defender, Mr Bolivar received the following handwritten and explicit notes in quick succession:

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International civil society alarmed by Conviction of Cameroonian environmental human rights defender

15 November, 2015

Cameroonian authorities must stop the repression of environmental human rights defender according to an international coalition of six environmental and human rights organizations, which includes Greenpeace Africa, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), GRAIN, Fern, Oakland Institute and SAVE.

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Press Release: Human Rights groups call for palm oil moratorium in Palawan, Philippines

11 November, 2015

***Press Information for Immediate Release: 11th November 2015***

Human Rights groups call for palm oil moratorium in Palawan, Philippines: End land grabs and forest destruction now!

Puerto Princesa: 11th November 2015 - A recent fact-finding mission by regional human rights groups in the south-western island of Palawan, the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, has revealed a pattern of land grabs and forest destruction by palm oil companies, partly owned by Malaysian and Singaporean investors.

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Oil palm land grabs and deforestation in Philippines condemned by human rights groups

9 November, 2015

A regional network of Asian human rights commissions and supportive NGOs has issued a strong statement supporting calls for a moratorium on palm oil expansion in the Philippines southern island of Palawan. The call came at the conclusion of a week of fact-finding trips and discussions of the 5th South East Asian Regional Conference on Human Rights and Agribusiness which was hosted by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, the Coalition on Land Grabbing of the Philippines supported by the Forest Peoples Programme.

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