In 2011, the World Bank Group (WBG) adopted a Framework and Strategy for investment in the palm oil sector. The new approach was adopted on the instructions of former World Bank President Robert Zoellick, after a damning audit by International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) semi-independent Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) had shown that IFC staff were financing the palm oil giant, Wilmar, without due diligence and contrary to the IFC’s Performance Standards. Wilmar is the world’s largest palm oil trader, supplying no less than 45% of globally traded palm oil. The audit, carried out in response to a series of detailed complaints from Forest Peoples Programme and partners, vindicated many of our concerns that Wilmar was expanding its operations in Indonesia in violation of legal requirements, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards and IFC norms and procedures. Almost immediately after the audit was triggered, IFC divested itself of its numerous other palm oil investments in Southeast Asia.
The international meeting of South East Asian Regional Human Rights Commissions on ‘Human Rights and Business: Plural Legal Approaches to Conflict Resolution, Institutional Strengthening and Legal Reform’ hosted by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (KOMNASHAM), in conjunction with Sawit Watch and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) was held in Bali, Indonesia, from 28th November to 1st December 2011.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The exponential growth in the palm oil sector, which accounts for a third of the total global trade of 130 million tons of vegetable oil annually, is strongly challenged by indigenous peoples and civil society organisations. Indiscriminate land clearing and acquisition for oil palm plantations is resulting in rapid habitat loss, species extinctions and alarming greenhouse gas emissions. It has also led to the dispossession of both indigenous peoples and the rural poor who depend traditionally on forest habitats for their survival.
This insightful study by Forest Peoples Programme, SawitWatch, Samdhana Institute and the Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) documents in detail, and for the first time, the way oil palm plantations are now expanding in very different ways across South East Asia as a whole. The study complements better known experiences in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea with new case studies of the processes of oil palm expansion in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.