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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Yerisiam Gua people of Papua face down land grabs and intimidation by palm oil company

28 April, 2016

INDONESIA: The Yerisiam Gua, an indigenous people in Nabire district in Indonesian Papua have filed a complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil against the palm oil developer, PT Nabire Baru.

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Palm oil industry group orders company to halt Peru planting

26 April, 2016

Source: Reuters - Tue, 26 Apr 2016 00:58 GMT, Author: Reuters

LIMA, April 25 (Reuters) - A palm oil industry body on Monday ordered a member company with a 5,000 hectare (12,355 acre) concession in Peru to stop developing new plantations until it can prove it has not cleared any primary forest.

The dispute comes amid growing concerns from environmentalist and indigenous communities about the rapid expansion of oil palm plantations in the Peruvian Amazon in recent years.

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Press Release: RSPO orders palm oil company to stop work in Shipibo territory in the Peruvian Amazon

26 April, 2016

LONDON, 26th April 2016: On the 25th April the complaints panel of the RSPO (Round table on Sustainable Palm Oil) issued a preliminary ‘Stop work order’ to Plantaciones de Pucallpa, one of its Peruvian members, whose operations are affecting the territory of the Shipibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya in the Ucayali region of the Peruvian Amazon.

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Indigenous leaders from threatened tropical forests to launch tour in Europe; will challenge region's deadly trade in ubiquitous palm oil

18 April, 2016

**Media Advisory**

Between 27 April and 4 May 2016, indigenous representatives and community leaders from tropical forest countries in Asia, Africa and South America will tour Brussels, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK to raise concerns with high-level policy and decision-makers about palm oil supply chains and the impact they are having on their lands, forests and communities. 

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Tongod villagers secure settlement of land claim with palm oil developer Genting Plantations

8 April, 2016

Sabah (Malaysia) - The High Court of Sabah just settled a landmark agreement between the indigenous Dusun and Sungai peoples of Tongod District and Genting Plantations. The case, which has dragged on since 1997 and been in the courts since 2002, concerns a large-scale palm oil development on community lands in central Sabah (North Borneo).

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Respecting Rights? Assessing Oil Palm Companies’ Compliance with FPIC Obligations: A case study of EPO and KLK LIBINC Estate in Grand Bassa, Liberia

Forest Peoples Programme
Sustainable Development Institute

24 February, 2016

Respecting Rights? Assessing Oil Palm Companies’ Compliance with FPIC Obligations: A case study of EPO and KLK LIBINC Estate in

This review is the result of several years of fieldwork by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), and is the first step 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’.

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Respecting Rights? Assessing Oil Palm Companies’ Compliance with FPIC Obligations: A case study of Maryland Oil Palm Plantation in south-eastern Liberia

Forest Peoples Programme
Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development (Liberia)

24 February, 2016

Respecting Rights? Assessing Oil Palm Companies’ Compliance with FPIC Obligations: A case study of Maryland Oil Palm Plantation

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’.

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Liberia FPIC Training Materials: 'Communities in the Driving Seat'

Forest Peoples Programme
Sustainable Development Institute
Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development

24 February, 2016

Communities in the Driving Seat: A manual on Free, Prior and Informed Consent

This suite of training materials has been developed for communities in Liberia to help increase awareness of the key principles surrounding free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and to improve the implementation of these principles in practice.

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Wilmar fails to resolve conflicts with communities in West Kalimantan and West Sumatra

23 February, 2016

In December 2013, following pressure from its customers and investors, the palm oil giant Wilmar committed to delinking its entire supply chain, including joint ventures and third-party suppliers, from deforestation, peatland development, and human rights abuses.  The commitment, to be fully implemented by December 2015, was welcomed by groups who had tracked and criticised Wilmar for its environmental destruction and human rights abuses. Two years on however, despite its promises, Wilmar has failed to resolve many long standing conflicts between its operations and impacted communities. The following material looks at a couple of cases where Wilmar has failed to resolve its conflicts with communities.

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‘High Carbon Stocks Forests’: challenges in implementation

23 February, 2016

In response to consumer pressure to eliminate deforestation from products on supermarket shelves, corporations have been making numerous ‘Zero Deforestation’ pledges, often accompanied by ‘Zero Exploitation’ commitments. These companies seek to ensure that products in their ‘supply chains’ do not ‘embody deforestation’ and are not linked to land grabs and abuse of human and labour rights. These commitments are welcome but raise numerous questions: what do they require in practice and how can companies’ performance be verified?

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