Liviya James

What's the most eco-friendly chocolate to buy for Easter?

Treehugger | April 18, 2019 

The annual Easter Buyer's Guide for Environmental Chocolate, created by environmental advocacy group Mighty Earth, is a useful guideline for conscientious chocolate buyers. It's a set of scorecards for more than 50 chocolate brands, retailers, and suppliers, designed to help people make more ethical and eco-friendly choices.

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Mighty Earth Publishes 2019 Easter Buyer’s Guide for Environmental Chocolate

Mighty Earth Publishes 2019 Easter Buyer’s Guide for Environmental Chocolate

Download the guides:

Sucden receives “Rotten Egg Award,” Lindt identified as 2019’s “Good Egg”

In advance of the Easter holiday, advocacy organization Mighty Earth released today, an environmental buyers’ guide for sustainable chocolate. The guide assesses 57 chocolate companies’ environmental policies and practices to provide consumers with an easy reference when buying chocolate for friends and family.

Easter is the peak holiday for chocolate sales around the world, with a greater market share than Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Halloween. “People are increasingly looking for sustainable options when they shop,” said Etelle Higonnet, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth. “They don’t want to give their kids Easter eggs made with child labor, or that killed chimpanzees. We want to make that process easier, so that you can savor a chocolate egg without having to worry if the company that made it wiped out a national park in Africa to get the cocoa.”

Mighty Earth gave Sucden the inaugural “Rotten Egg” designation for its weak scores across all measured categories. Sucden has been one of the least responsive cocoa traders, refusing to engage with citizen groups, trace where its cocoa comes from, commit to deforestation-free cocoa, or switch to environmentally friendly agroforestry for its cocoa production. Moreover, the company – which also controls 15 to 20 percent of the world’s sugar – refuses to ensure a living income for the farmers that supply its cocoa. It has also failed to eliminate child and slave labor from its supply chain.

“Sucden is essentially accepting or turning a blind eye to deforestation, ecological devastation via polluting monoculture, slavery, child labor, and the dire poverty of farmers,” said Higonnet. “If anyone deserves a rotten egg, it’s Sucden.”

Mighty Earth named Lindt – one of the top ten chocolate companies in the world – as this year’s “Good Egg.” This year, Lindt not only joined but went above and beyond the industry standard Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI). Lindt’s “No Deforestation and Agroforestry Action Plan” includes dramatic transparency measures, including disclosure of Lindt’s supply chain to suppliers and locations Lindt sources from. Over the last two years, Lindt has embraced zero deforestation worldwide, full traceability of every bean, restoration of forests, the High Carbon Stock Approach (a methodology that distinguishes forest from degraded lands, for optimal implementation of corporate deforestation-free commitments that also ensure local peoples’ rights and livelihoods), and agroforestry with a minimum of 30 percent shade tree cover.

Mighty Earth’s new scorecard includes more than 20 new companies, most of them supermarkets. Roughly 40 percent of the profits of any given chocolate bar go to supermarkets.

“The majority of cocoa farmers make under $1 per day. With the lion’s share of the benefits, it is high time that retailers take responsibility for human rights abuses and environmental abuses in the cocoa they sell,” said Higonnet.

Mighty Earth ranked companies based on their deforestation policies in West Africa, global cocoa deforestation policies, and agroforestry (a way of measuring how companies are doing on shifting away from destructive ‘full sun’ monoculture to forest-friendly, shade-grown, agro-ecological cocoa) – the same categories as last year. However, the 2019 scorecard includes a new category for traceability. Within the last year, many players in the industry made huge progress on this front, tracing as much as 80 percent of their direct supply chain, to move closer to clarity, honesty, and transparency.

Mighty Earth also added new a column for living income. While some consumers may be wondering whether to first eat the ears or the feet on one of the 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies produced each year, most cocoa farmers are wrestling with whether or not they can afford to put a meal on the table for their families. Farmers’ poverty has only gotten worse in the last three years. Roughly 2.1 million children work in cocoa, 96% of whom are found to be in hazardous labor according to researchers at Tulane University.

“I can accept that some parents with a sweet tooth might sneak a wee bit of candy from their kids’ stash,” said Higonnet. “But I can’t accept that a $100 billion-a-year industry is robbing the farmers who are slaving away in unacceptable conditions to supply them with raw materials.”

Western Industrial Farming Is Eating Our Forests and Accelerating Climate Change

Motherboard | April 17, 2019

The dynamics of deforestation are increasingly inseparable from the growing demand for food from consumers in the most developed countries.

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Mighty Earth Rapid Response Report 14

Mighty Earth Rapid Response Report 14

VIew as PDF

Indonesian companies:

Global Palm Resources Group: PT Prakarsa Tani Sejati
Pactra Group: PT Arjuna Utama Sawit
Family – Jeff Setiawan and Ir. Daud: PT Rimbun Sawit Papua
Unknown Group: PT Ichiko Agro Lestari
Unknown Group: PT Bhakti Usaha Dinamik
Metro Lestari Jaya Group: PT Sawit Mandiri Lestari
Tsani Hutani Abadi Group: PT Rimba Karya Rayatama
Genting Plantations Group: PT Citra Sawit Cemerlang
Unknown Group: PT Aotani Rimba Raya
Anglo Eastern Plantations: PT Kahayan Agro Plantation


Malaysian companies:

Puncak Niaga Group: Danum Sinar Sdn Bhd
TH Plantations Group: Hydroflow Sdn Bhd
Kwantas Group: Kwantas Pelita Plantation (Balingian) Sdn Bhd

April 2019

Prepared with support from MapHubs

Sources for supply chain information:

Supply chain information included in Rapid Response reports is based on latest publicly versions of mill disclosures and grievance logs. Mighty Earth encourages companies to send updated versions of mill disclosures as soon as they become available and any decision to suspend supplies with a given group/company listed in those mill disclosures; please send to [email protected].

Koalisi Indonesia mendesak Pemerintah Untuk Menyelamatkan Orangutan Tapanuli, Melindungi “Wonderful Indonesia”

Koalisi Indonesia mendesak Pemerintah Untuk Menyelamatkan Orangutan Tapanuli, Melindungi “Wonderful Indonesia”


Proyek waduk kontroversial senilai 1,6 juta dolar yang didukung Tiongkok dan Dharmawangsa Group mengancam kepunahan species langka Pongo tapanuliensis orangutan

JAKARTA, 5 Maret 2019 – Sudah dipastikan akan terjadi pertikaian panjang demi menyelamatkan spesies orangutan langka yang baru saja ditemukan dari kepunahan di tangan proyek waduk seharga 1.6 juta US Dollar. Kemarin, Pengadilan Negeri di Medan memutuskan bahwa situasi ini tidak menghentikan pembangunan waduk. Melihat hal tersebut, koalisi internasional organisasi dan pemimpin Indonesia memohon pada pemerintah agar membatalkan proyek tersebut dan menjaga ekosistem di sana untuk jangka panjang.

Waduk yang akan dibangun di Sungai Batang Toru, Sumatera Utara bersama perusahaan hydroelectric  raksasa dari Tiongkok, Sinohydro dengan dana dari Bank of China ini mengancam spesies orangutan terbaru dan matapencaharian penduduk asli di sana.

Orangutan Tapanuli baru saja diidentifikasi sebagai spesies baru tahun 2017. Mereka merupakan spesies kera besar ke tujuh di dunia. Terlepas dari itu, mereka sudah sangat dekat dengan bahaya kepunahan dan populasi hanya sekitar 800 ekor. Diperkirakan populasinya sudah hampir setengahnya sejak tahun 1985 and akan terus berkurang kecuali dilakukan perlindungan yang lebih komprehensif1.

Proyek PLTA seharga 1.6 juta dollar Amerika ini merupakan yang terbesar di Sumatra, pertama kali diumumkan di 2011 dan dijadwalkan selesai pada tahun 2022. Tapi waduk sudah direncanakan sebelum ditemukannya Orangutan Tapanuli. Hal ini menunjukkan bahwa proses perencanaan lingkungannya tidak memperhatikan bahaya punahnya spesies ini.

Kepemilikkan proyek ini diduga sebagai bagian dari Belt and Road Initiative milik China, juga tumpah tindih antara Indonesia dan Tiongkok, pendanaan dari Tiongkok dan perusahaan synohydro milik negara Tiongkok.

“Investasi China ini dapat berpotensi membawa manfaat, tapi proyek ini beresiko mengotori reputasi Belt and Road Initiative”, kata Panut Hadisiswoyo, Founding Director Pusat Informasi Orang Utan. “Kami berharap pemerintah China dapat dengan serius mempertimbangkan kembali proyek ini mengingat penemuan Orangutan Tapanuli: bisa dibayangkan proyek yang didanai pihak luar negeri mengancam Panda raksasa yang akan punah pernah disetujui?”.

Salah satu penerima manfaat dari waduk ini adalah tambang emas Martabe, yang saat ini digadang untuk mengembangkan habitat Orangutan Tapanuli. Tambang tersebut dimiliki oleh anak perusahaan konglomerat Inggris, Jardine Matheson yang pernah dikritik soal anak perusahaan sawitnya yang mengambil lahan habitat orangutan seluas 10.000 are.

“Jardine sudah memdapatkam keuntungan dari perusahaan hutan seluas 10.000 are dan sekarang akan menambang emas yang tentunya akan mempengaruhi kelangsungan hidup orangutan Tapanuli”, ujar Glenn Hurowitz, CEO Mighty Earth, sebuah organisasi yang sudah pernah sebelumnya mendesak Jardin untuk melindungi orang utan Tapanuli. “Siapapun tidak ingin mengenakam kalung emas ataupun cincin kawin yang menyebabkan terbunuhnya spesies langka.”

Perusahaan Dharma Hydro yang merupakan bagian dari Dharmawangsa Group memiliki hubungan dengan proyek ini; Dharma Hydro merupakan pemilik saham terbesar dari PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy (NSHE), perusahaan di balik proyek waduk tersebut. Ironisnya adalah walaupun pembangunan waduk ini akan membahayakan habitat kera besar terlangka di dunia, namun Dharmawangsa Group sedang menjual resort baru yg pengembangannya adalah sebagai ‘eco resort’.

Pengkajian lingkungan juga menemukan bahwa konstruksi dan operasi dari waduk dan PLTA ini akan mengancam kehidupan ribuan penduduk di hilir yang bergantung pada ekosistem sungai untuk bertahan hidup seperti memancing, pertanian, transportasi dan kebutuhan air sehari-hari.

“Pemerintah Indonesia menghabiskan jutaan dolar untuk mempromosikan harta kekayaan alam kita melalui kampanye Wonderful Indonesia”, kata Hardi Baktiantoro dari Pusat Perlindungan Orangutan, yang juga ikut bergabung di dalam wawancara terbatas. “Presiden Jokowi seharusnya melindungi investasi dengan cara menyalurkan investasi tersebut pada energi bertanggung jawab dan proyek infrastruktur yang tidak hanya dapat memenuhi kebutuhan listrik kita, tapi juga dapat menjaga alam liar dan margasatwa Indonesia.”

Ini merupakan ancaman besar dengan keuntungan yang tidak setimpal. Dibandingkan dengan proyek hydro-energy lainnya di duni, proyek ini terhitung tidak menguntungkan jika membandingkan biaya yang dikeluarkan dengan kentungan yang didapatkan. Ditambah lagi, area yang akan dibangun NSHE untuk waduk tersebut merupakan area dengan aktivitas geologis yang intensif yang beresiko tinggi gempa bumi dengan potensi bencamna berkelanjutan.

Beberapa laporan2 menyebutkan bahwa tidak ada kebutuhan mendesak dari energi NSHE. Alternatif produksi lainnya juga tersedia di area itu, contoh proyek geothermal MW Sarasulla yang memproduksi energi bersih dan dapat ditingkatkan menjadi 1000 MW jika dibutuhkan. Pengembangan dati alternatif ini dapat mengurangi resiko lingkungan yang dapat ditimbulkan oleh proyek hydroelectric, memastikan keselamatan orangutan, keberlangsungan hidup orang banyak.

“Indonesia dapat memenuhi kebutuhan infrastruktur dan energi yang dibutuhkan tanpa membahayakan orangutan atau sekedar membuang-buang uang dalam jumlah yang tidak sedikit di tanah Batang Toru. Banyak pilihan lain seperti panas bumi, energi matahari yang bahkan lebih kecil, lebih murah dan tidak merusak.” Kata Arrum dari Program Konservasi Orangutan Sumatra. “Pada akhirnya, masyarakat Indonesia lah yang akan membayar pinjaman besar ini di tagihan listrik kita.” (*)

New Announcements Show Progress Toward Sustainable Steel

In response to ArcelorMittal’s announcements this week, Mighty Earth campaign director Margaret Hansbrough released the following statement:

"Two exciting and unprecedented climate announcements were made by the world's largest steel company this week, ArcelorMittal. In Spain, the company signed a 10 year contract to purchase solar electricity for one of its facilities from a solar farm that will produce 8.6 gigawatt hours annually. And in Germany, ArcelorMittal announced a pilot project to bring hydrogen technology to scale to replace direct use of fossil fuels as a raw material input. Together, these announcements are the biggest signal to date that the company is starting to seriously invest in low carbon production technology. Mighty Earth hopes that this is only the beginning of a much bigger commitment toward carbon neutrality for the company – and that these will be the first steps toward leading the rest of the industry toward deep decarbonization."

For more information on Mighty Earth’s campaign for clean steel, visit

Dozens of Iowa-Based Groups and More than 91,000 People Ask Presidential Candidates to Reject Failed Biofuels Policy

Through both in-person and digital deliveries, all of the 2020 presidential candidates are hearing from more than 50 Iowa-based groups and leaders and more than 91,000 people concerned about the damage that our nation’s biofuels addiction is causing the environment.

“Unfortunately, both parties are largely blind to the catastrophic consequences of embracing biofuels,” said Rose Garr, campaign director. “At a time when our planet is already facing a climate crisis, our biofuels policies are increasing carbon emissions and destroying millions of acres of prairies, wetlands, and forests.”

The petition, which is being circulated online and on the ground in Iowa, includes more than 3,000 Iowan signatories.

“We’re seeing a groundswell of grassroots support here in Iowa — it’s clear that concerns about ethanol and biodiesel have been on people’s minds for quite a while,” said Anya Fetcher, lead organizer in Iowa City. “People have been feeling frustrated and helpless, because Big Ag often seems impossible to fight. But the goals of this campaign are tangible and attainable, with a strategy and tactics that people can understand and be a part of. That’s exciting!”

Fifty-six Iowa-based groups are also calling on the candidates to support energy and land policies that reduce biofuel crop production and shift the state to increased land conservation and clean energy generation.

The petition and coalition letter deliveries follow a series of panel discussions hosted in Davenport, Des Moines, and Iowa City last week. More than 150 Iowans gathered for the events, which focused on climate change and conservation in Iowa.

For the past three years, Mighty Earth has championed pro-environment reforms to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates increasing biofuel consumption through 2022. In January, our activists in Iowa launched a new effort to educate political leaders and policymakers and explain why food-based biofuels are not a viable solution to climate change.

Dozens of Iowa-Based Groups and More than 91,000 People Ask Presidential Candidates to Reject Failed Biofuels Policy

Through both in-person and digital deliveries today, all of the 2020 presidential candidates are hearing from more than 50 Iowa-based groups and leaders and more than 91,000 people concerned about the damage that our nation’s biofuels addiction is causing the environment.

“Unfortunately, both parties are largely blind to the catastrophic consequences of embracing biofuels,” said Rose Garr, campaign director at Mighty Earth. “At a time when our planet is already facing a climate crisis, our biofuels policies are increasing carbon emissions and destroying millions of acres of prairies, wetlands, and forests.”

The petition, which was organized by environmental organization Mighty Earth and includes more than 3,000 Iowan signatories, notes: “Over the past decade, the surge in production of food-based biofuels has been a disaster for the environment and climate. Increased corn and soy production for ethanol and biodiesel have led to the widespread loss of wildlife habitat, water pollution, and increased climate pollution as native ecosystems in the Midwest and abroad are destroyed for new crop production. These biofuels, which are as dirty as fossil fuels, or worse, have no place in a clean energy economy.”

“We’re seeing a groundswell of grassroots support here in Iowa — it’s clear that concerns about ethanol have been on people’s minds for quite a while,” said Anya Fetcher, lead organizer in Iowa City. “More than 85 people came out to our forum in Iowa City last Wednesday, ready to learn, discuss, and collaborate on this effort. People have been feeling frustrated and helpless, because Big Ag often seems impossible to fight. But the goals of this campaign are tangible and attainable, with a strategy and tactics that people can understand and be a part of. That’s exciting!”

Fifty-six Iowa-based groups also called on the candidates to support energy and land policies that reduce biofuel crop production and shift the state to increased land conservation and clean energy generation.

“We’re calling on the next president to embrace real solutions to climate change, including a reduction in the use of food-based biofuels, an increased focus on truly clean energy, and programs to compensate landowners for providing carbon sinks and natural habitat,” said Garr. “Far from the corn-at-all-costs caricature that Big Ag and the Beltway pundits would have you believe, the voters of Iowa know that smart, responsible climate action is necessary. And they will be looking for someone to lead on this issue.”

For the past three years, Mighty Earth has championed pro-environment reforms to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates increasing biofuel consumption through 2022. In January, Mighty Earth’s activists in Iowa launched a new effort to educate political leaders and policymakers and explain why food-based biofuels are not a viable solution to climate change.

Mighty Earth wants to push 2020 candidates on the use of biofuels

Iowa City Press-Citizen | March 31, 2019 

In Iowa, approximately 2.7 billion bushels of corn are produced annually. The 43 in-state ethanol refineries demand approximately 1 billion bushels to operate. This is big business for the state. Iowa produces over a quarter of the ethanol in the United States. One advocacy group in the state is asking those candidates to make a potentially risky political stand in a state where corn is king.

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Hey Mandarin! We’re not a fan--save the orangutan

This chant rang out in NYC and London, as demonstrators converged on Mandarin Oriental Hotel to call for an end to their complicity in the destruction of orangutan habitat. Mandarin is owned by parent company Jardine Matheson, whose corporate activities threaten to wipe out the world’s last remaining population of Tapanuli orangutans.   

At the NYC action, activists handed out flyers, sang and chanted, as they braved the pouring rain on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. They then went inside, where they delivered 32,000 petitions addressed to Mandarin.

The petition has since nearly doubled to 55,000 signatories, as worldwide pressure builds.

Earlier in the day, in London, dozens of activist led by the renowned conservationist Ian Redmond rallied in front of Mandarin’s Hyde Park hotel. March 21 was chosen as the day of action to protect the Tapanuli orangutan to coincide with the UN’s International Day of Forests.

Tourist and other travelers don’t want to stay at establishments that are complicit in the deforestation of habitats of critically endangered species.  And yet Jardine Matheson--parent company to Mandarin Oriental--is standing idly by while rainforests are being bulldozed and threatening the Tapanuli orangutan with extinction.

The Tapanuli orangutan has a population of just 800, and all are found exclusively in the Batang Toru forest, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Jardines operates a mine in this forest--right in the heart of the Tapanuli’s only habitat. Worse, the mine has been drilling exploratory wells further encroaching on these orangutans’ territory. Additionally, Jardines and its subsidiary Astra have failed to take a stand against the Batang Toru dam, which would physically fragment the Tapanuli’s habitat and prevent these apes from having the level of genetic diversity necessary to sustain their population. Astra International is Indoneisa’s largest company; they have influence with the government who has the authority to halt this dam project.  We welcome positive engagement with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and strongly hope that they and their parent company act to protect biodiversity.

Soja et déforestation : interpellation des entreprises françaises de la grande distribution

Soja et déforestation : interpellation des entreprises françaises de la grande distribution


Il y a un an, nos associations interpellaient Auchan, Bigard, Carrefour, Casino, Cooperl, LDC, Lactalis, Sodexo, Système U et onze autres entreprises du secteur agro-alimentaire et de la grande distribution afin de les alerter sur la déforestation massive causée par la culture du soja dans plusieurs régions d’Amérique Latine, et sur la présence possible de ce soja dans leur chaîne d’approvisionnement.

Deux ans après l’entrée en vigueur de la loi sur le devoir de vigilance des sociétés mères et entreprises donneuses d’ordre du 27 mars 2017, les associations Mighty Earth, France Nature Environnement et Sherpa publient un rapport commun analysant les pratiques en matière de vigilance et de diligence raisonnable d’une vingtaine d’entreprises françaises du secteur agroalimentaire et de la grande distribution.

Nos organisations demandaient à ces entreprises d’indiquer les mesures mises en œuvre pour identifier ce risque dans leur chaîne d’approvisionnement (le soja étant notamment utilisé massivement pour l’alimentation du bétail), et pour prévenir ces atteintes.

Depuis, certaines ont répondu à nos interpellations, et d’autres ont publié leur premier Plan de vigilance, exigé par la loi sur le devoir de vigilance. Dans le rapport publié aujourd’hui, nos organisations analysent plus particulièrement les mesures relatives à la prévention de la déforestation liée à la culture du soja mises en œuvre par ces sociétés.

Les principales conclusions sont les suivantes :

  • On observe une longueur d’avance des sociétés couvertes par la loi ;
  • Des lacunes majeures en matière d’identification et de prévention des risques subsistent pour assurer la conformité des sociétés à la loi.

Les ONG appellent urgemment les entreprises concernées à rectifier leurs pratiques. Elles demandent également aux pouvoirs publics de mettre toutes les entreprises au diapason de la vigilance en améliorant le suivi de la loi, en abaissant ses seuils d’application et en s’engageant effectivement dans l’adoption d’une législation ambitieuse au niveau européen.

Si les lacunes dégagées par l’étude persistent, certaines des sociétés pourraient faire l’objet de procédures sur le plan judiciaire, y compris sur le fondement de la loi sur le devoir de vigilance.

  • Pour Adeline Favrel, coordinatrice du réseau Forêt de FNE :

“A l’heure du changement climatique et du déclin de la biodiversité, la lutte contre la déforestation est un enjeu majeur. Elle est occasionnée majoritairement – à plus de 70%- par l’agriculture, et particulièrement la culture intensive du soja en Amérique latine. Aujourd’hui, la France s’est dotée de 2 outils intéressants pour lutter contre la déforestation : la loi sur le devoir de vigilance et la Stratégie nationale de Lutte contre la Déforestation Importée (SNDI), mais il faut encore que cette dernière mette en œuvre rapidement des actions concrètes.”

  • Pour Sandra Cossart, directrice de Sherpa :

“Depuis l’adoption de la loi sur le devoir de vigilance, les entreprises ne peuvent plus ignorer les risques d’atteintes aux droits de l’homme et à l’environnement dans leur chaîne d’approvisionnement. Nos interpellations l’année dernière visaient à rappeler à ces entreprises que les risques liés à la déforestation causée par le soja les concernent directement. Depuis, certaines nous ont répondu, d’autres ont évoqué la question dans leur plan de vigilance, d’autres n’ont rien fait du tout ! Dans les semaines qui viennent, les entreprises concernées vont devoir justifier qu’elles ont mis en œuvre des mesures adaptées, et ce de manière effective, à défaut de quoi elles s’exposent à des procédures judiciaires.”

  • Pour Me Sébastien Mabile, avocat associé de Seattle Avocats :

“Les dommages résultant de la culture extensive du soja en Amérique du Sud constituent sans aucun doute des “atteintes graves” à l’environnement et aux droits humains au sens de la loi du 27 mars 2017 sur le devoir de vigilance des entreprises donneuses d’ordre. Les entreprises qui utilisent ce soja dans leur chaîne d’approvisionnement doivent ainsi prendre des “actions adaptées” “d’atténuation des risques ou de prévention des atteintes graves”. Force est de constater que le compte n’y est pas et que la majorité des entreprises visées par ce rapport s’exposent à un risque contentieux important”

Launch of New Global Platform Sets Stage for Rubber Industry to Address Environmental Damage

Mighty Earth joins Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber as Founding Member

SINGAPORE – In an effort to address deforestation, carbon emissions, and human rights abuses that have plagued the rubber industry for decades, major tire companies – with the collaboration of environmental advocacy organizations and other key stakeholders in the rubber industry – today launched the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR).

Environmental advocacy organization Mighty Earth, a Founding Member, welcomed the news.

“It took a little while to get to the starting line, but we’re thrilled that the major tire companies are now racing to address deforestation and land grabbing in their supply chains,” said Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz. “The most urgent task for the GPSNR is to establish a working platform this year to monitor their entire supply chains for land clearance and human rights issues.”

A similar platform in the Brazilian soy industry virtually eliminated deforestation for soy in the Brazilian Amazon within three years, and has maintained it at near-zero levels for more than a decade.

Rubber plantations are a growing driver of deforestation worldwide, particularly in Southeast Asia and Western Africa. Deforestation is a major driver of climate change and is responsible for approximately 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. And by some estimates, the expansion of deforestation for rubber between now and 2024 could release the same amount of carbon dioxide – a major rubber carbon bomb – as the country of India does annually. Industrial rubber cultivation  also destroys the habitats of endangered animals including tigers, gibbons, and elephants.

Industrial plantations also often violate the rights of forest-dwelling communities and indigenous peoples. Forced displacement, land grabbing, and human rights abuses frequently accompany the establishment of rubber plantations in areas of tropical forest.

The GPSNR was designed to address these issues. Initial plans would have created an industry-dominated forum, but rubber companies and their customers have responded to calls to create a more inclusive platform. As a result, the GPSNR was expanded to give an equal voice to NGOs as well as other stakeholders, and has created a path forward to ultimately include representation for smallholders as well.

“Swift action is urgently needed,” said Kristin Urquiza, Senior Campaign Director at Mighty Earth. “Fortunately, the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber presents an opportunity to take meaningful, industry-wide steps to solve this crisis and help eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from the global rubber supply chain.”

Mighty Earth has documented the impact of the rubber industry on the natural environment and human rights in Southeast Asia, and called on tire companies like Bridgestone, Goodyear, Continental, Michelin and Pirelli to produce transformative rubber-buying policies that will stop deforestation and exploitation in rubber producing countries as quickly as possible. To date, at least nine companies have adopted policies, although most policies have gaps - making the success of the GPSNR even more critical.

“With the tire industry’s launch of this platform, the goal of eliminating commodity-driven deforestation by 2020 is within reach for rubber, cocoa, palm oil, and paper,” said Hurowitz. “The spotlight now falls on the soy industry, which has failed to extend its own success from the Brazilian Amazon to the other hotbeds of deforestation across South America, because of the bitter resistance of rogue traders like Bunge.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel: Save the Tapanuli Orangutan

Mighty Earth is joining the Ape Alliance and other allies in a dramatic protest to draw attention to the precarious state of the Tapanuli orangutan, an endangered ape threatened by industrial development. This great ape was discovered only recently, but is already in danger of extinction; it is estimated that there are only 800 of them left in the world.

Multinational corporation Jardine Matheson -- owner of the internationally acclaimed, 5-star Mandarin Oriental Hotels -- also owns Astra International, one of Indonesia's largest companies. They also recently purchased the Martabe gold mine, which lies within Batang Toru, Sumatra, the only habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan. This habitat, the orangutans, and the livelihoods of local communities are all threatened by the massive Batang Toru hydroelectric dam project that has already begun destroying the forest to make room for the dam and support infrastructure.

This Martabe mine uses a huge amount of electricity to operate its smelters.  In the name of meeting the demand for electricity, the Indonesian state-owned utility has sought backing from  Chinese financiers and hydro companies to build the Batang Toru dam. There is a massive geothermal energy plant just miles away from the mine that could be further expanded to provide more clean electricity than the dam ever would.

The Batang Toru dam  would permanently fragment the Tapanuli orangutan’s habitat, breaking the forest into areas that are too small for them to survive over the long-term.  If just one percent of the population-- that eight individuals is lost each year, the Tapanuli will go extinct. This orangutan species has no room for error in the fight for its existence.   

Jardines has the influence needed to help stop the dam -- but they have so far refused to act. These protests will encourage them to protect the most endangered great ape on earth. Similar protests in recent weeks have already brought the Bank of China, the project’s major financier, to the negotiating table.

Sign the petition!

Victory: Largest Cocoa Company in Ghana Joins Push for Sustainability

As a result of advocacy by Mighty Earth and the hard work of others including the World Cocoa Foundation, the biggest cocoa company in Ghana, PBC Limited, has followed Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and thirty-leading cocoa and chocolate companies in joining the Cocoa Forest Initiative to end deforestation and restore forest areas. PBC Limited controls roughly 35 percent of the Ghana’s cocoa.

As deforestation for cocoa in Ghana continues to destroy the country’s last forests, companies engaged in the industry must step up and commit to sustainability before it is too late. PBC Limited’s decision to join the Cocoa Forest Initiative is a huge step forward to ending deforestation.

PBC Limited’s Cocoa Forest Initiative action plan will focus on three major commitments:

  • Forest protection and restoration,
  • Sustainable production and livelihoods,
  • And community engagement and social inclusion

Following the announcement, PBC Limited CEO Kofi Owusu Boateng declared: “Sustainability is the way to go; it’s a must. It is our collective duty to leave the next generation a healthy and a happy farming population. We need to understand that we are only holding the world in trust for the generation yet unborn.”

This decision puts increasing pressure on Ghanaian cocoa companies Akuafo Adamfo, Armajaro, Kuapa Kokoo, Federated Commodities, Transroyal, Adwumapa, and Cocoa Merchants Gh among others to embrace and adopt deforestation-free cocoa, supply chain traceability and agroforestry.

PBC’s change is welcome because the situation for Ghanaian forests is dire, and rainfall is affected as forests vanish. To avoid catastrophic desertification, major change in the cocoa sector is urgently needed. Mighty Earth Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet explained: ‘PBC is leading and we desperately need the other LBCs to follow. It's all hands on deck right now to clean up the cocoa industry, turn things around to make cocoa forest-friendly, and save Ghana’s last forests before it’s too late.

Rapid Response Monitoring System Webinar

Following the public launch of Mighty Earth’s Rapid Response Monitoring System, Mighty Earth hosted a webinar detailing how the new system works and our long-term plans for the project. The webinar was presented by Glenn Hurowitz, CEO, Mighty Earth; Deborah Lapidus, Southeast Asia Director, Mighty Earth; and Leo Bottrill, Founder & CEO, Maphubs.


The Rapid Response system aims to eliminate deforestation from the palm oil, soy, rubber, cocoa, paper, and cattle industries. Mighty Earth, working with partners Aidenvironment and MapHubs, analyzes satellite data from Planet Labs and other sources alongside concession maps to detect deforestation occuring on agricultural plantations; it then identifies supply chain and financial links between the plantations and the world's largest agricultural buyers.

Springing into Action on Rubber

As the World Rubber Summit kicks off in Singapore, we explain why Mighty Earth has become a Founding Member of the new Global Platform on Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR).

Perhaps the ‘game changer’ moment for the rubber industry came in mid-September 2016, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague quietly released a policy paper that seemed far removed from the dry world of natural rubber commerce.

In a shift from their traditional focus on war crimes, the ICC announced in its paper that it would start to prosecute on “crimes against humanity” resulting from large-scale environmental destruction and natural resource exploitation. This included explicit references to deforestation and the “illegal dispossession” of land, aka land-grabbing.

A complaint had recently been lodged at the ICC against the Government of Cambodia, which was accused of crimes against humanity associated with a massive wave of land grabbing over the previous decade that had led to the displacement of 770,000 Cambodians. In the vast majority of cases, local communities and indigenous peoples had been forcibly dispossessed of their traditional lands and forests in order to make way for large-scale commercial agriculture projects. The number one crop targeted for these schemes? Rubber.

The ICC’s announcement, coupled with the Cambodia case, fundamentally shifted the goalposts for rubber producers, processors, and buyers. This was no longer just about reputational risk. Chief executives of companies complicit in crimes related to environmental destruction and land grabbing could now be charged in front of a tribunal at the ICC. This was a shot across the bow of the rubber industry. Nobody wants to be in the company of war criminals such as Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milošević.


The Rubber Boom: 2000 and Beyond

Natural rubber is derived from tapping the sap (or latex) of the tree Hevea Brasiliensis, a species that grows only in the tropics. Originating in Brazil, it was introduced and propagated by the colonial powers in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Today, 90% of the world’s natural rubber comes from Asia. Most (70%) rubber is consumed by the tire industry, with other commercial uses including sports equipment, footwear, condoms, medical products and household items.

With a few exceptions, rubber has traditionally been grown mainly by smallholder farmers, or on modest estates, with a minor portion coming from large plantations either set up by the colonial administrations in African and Asian countries, or by public or private companies following independence.

However, over the past twenty years, this situation has begun to change dramatically, particularly in Southeast Asia. In countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam, commercial agribusinesses have established large numbers of new industrial rubber plantations, decreasing the share of total production by smallholder growers. Countries such as Malaysia, which already had a higher concentration of plantations, also saw the number of such large-scale operations increase significantly since the year 2000.

As rubber prices steadily rose in the decade between 2002-2012 (particularly in relation to other tropical agricultural commodities), commercial investors looked to open up new regions for industrial rubber cultivation: with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar the prime targets. From around 2003 onwards, an estimated combined 1,489,500 hectares of land across these three countries was allocated for large scale rubber concessions—an area equal to the size of 19 New York Cities.

In all three countries, land for large scale commercial rubber was mostly allocated to investors based in Vietnam and China, with companies from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Korea playing a lesser role (along with some domestic investors). In Myanmar, military-associated companies have also been major beneficiaries of land deals for rubber.


Area under agriculture and tree-crop concessions in the Mekong: 1992-2017

Source: Journal of Land Use Science, The expansion of tree-based boom crops in mainland Southeast Asia: 2001 to 2014 , Kaspar Hurni & Jefferson Fox 2018

Source: MRLG, May 2018

Palm oil’s bad neighbor

In the decade since 2003, rubber investment in Mainland Southeast Asia (also known as the Mekong region) exceeded even that of palm oil. With both commodities, the upsurge in industrial plantation production has been plagued with social and environmental issues.

In the case of palm oil, these issues have gained widespread public exposure since the middle of the last decade due to successful campaigns to expose palm oil’s dark secrets. Campaigning has led to action across the industry from adoption of ‘No Deforestation, No Exploitation’ policies to a plethora of industry and multi-stakeholder efforts to resolve palm oil’s sustainability issues at scale. But the problems in the rubber sector have gone relatively unnoticed until recently, and has thus far the industry has done little to change its behavior.

The problems associated with industrial rubber production and processing are multiple, and severe. Problems plaguing the sector range from massive deforestation, to widespread land-grabbing and associated human rights abuses, to the destruction of huge swathes of endangered species’ critical habitats, contaminating groundwater and aggravating climate change. The list goes on.

Initiatives such as the International Rubber Study Group’s Sustainable Natural Rubber initiative (SNRi) have failed to make much of a dent in rubber’s sustainability footprint, and have largely excluded critical stakeholders, such as NGOs. Furthermore, the fact that natural rubber is less ubiquitous in consumer items than palm oil means that the sector has been able to fly relatively under the public radar. But now all of that is changing.


Reasons for optimism: from recognition, to response, to reaction

With any industry troubled by environmental, social or human rights issues, change does not necessarily happen overnight. In our experience, there is often a learning-to-action curve that moves along a trajectory from ignoring the problem, to angry denial, to grudging recognition, to engagement, and eventually to genuine response and action.

With some industries, this trajectory follows a painfully shallow curve that can drag out each phase for years. Examples of this include the oil and gas extractives sector, as well as the agrochemical, commercial seed, and meat production industries. Not surprisingly, these industries tend to have the worst image in the public eye.

In the case of the rubber sector, however, Mighty Earth is encouraged by signs that the industry is accelerating quickly along this trajectory. From a situation in March 2016, when not a single tire or rubber company had a sustainable natural rubber procurement policy, three years later we have seen nine of the world’s leading tire brands develop and adopt such a policy. Several of the world’s largest rubber companies have done likewise.

Rather than ignoring or denying the issues, companies in the tire and rubber sectors are engaging with us, paying careful attention to our research in the Mekong region and West Africa, seeking to understand the issues, and looking to take real action. And at this year’s World Rubber Summit, sustainability is high on the agenda. It appears the natural rubber industry is listening, and willing to change.


The Global Platform: a springboard for change?

Yet despite recent progress, a huge amount remains to be done. The social and environmental problems in the natural rubber sector are systemic, and won’t be resolved simply by engaging on a company-by-company basis.

That’s why Mighty Earth has decided to become a Founding Member of the new Global Platform on Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR). The Platform has been set up to enable multiple stakeholders in the rubber sector to collectively develop strategies for tackling critical social and environmental issues. This will involve rubber producers, tire companies, car manufacturers farmer representatives, and NGOs working collaboratively to devise solutions.

This is, for sure, a bold experiment, and the launch of the GPSNR has not been without teething issues. During the Platform’s inception, we had to fight hard to ensure that the governance structure provided civil society with an equal seat at the table and voice in decision-making. For many of the companies involved, it will be their first time working in a multi-stakeholder body alongside NGOs. It’s fair to say that some may still be a bit nervous!

However, despite these teething issues, we believe the Platform has the potential to be a springboard for transformative change in the rubber industry. Alongside our fellow NGO founding members, we want to work with companies across the natural rubber value chain to quickly address the sustainability issues facing the industry, monitor progress of implementation of policies already in place, and start changing practices on the ground.

Companies across the rubber value chain increasingly understand their wider responsibilities. Now is the time for them to use the Platform to turn that understanding into action.

Green activists push soya traders on Brazil deforestation

Financial Times | March 4, 2019 

Climate activists are pushing the world’s largest agricultural traders to go “beyond nice statements” and enact concrete measures to tackle deforestation caused by soya production in Brazil’s Cerrado region.

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Bank of China to review funding of dam in orangutan habitat in Sumatra

Mongabay | March 12, 2019 

Bank of China has promised to evaluate a hydroelectric project it is helping fund in Indonesia, which activists say threatens the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, the rarest great ape species on Earth.

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Bank of China to Reevaluate Dam Project That Threatens Endangered Orangutan with Extinction

The Bank of China has announced it will re-evaluate its support for the Batang Toru dam project that threatens the Tapanuli orangutan. In response to this development, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

“We are grateful that Bank of China is taking the responsible step to reevaluate this project given the threat it poses to the Tapanuli orangutan and the entire Batang Toru ecosystem.

“The Batang Toru dam would permanently disrupt the habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan and would contribute to the first extinction of a great ape – our closest cousins in the animal kingdom – in all our recorded history. We are therefore confident that this review will lead to the cancellation of the project. Mighty Earth is ready to participate in this re-evaluation process and help facilitate a positive outcome.

“We strongly support development in Indonesia, but that requires some attention to be paid to ensuring that infrastructure projects are located in the right place. The Batang Toru dam is proposed for exactly the wrong place, with a higher density of Tapanuli orangutans than surrounding areas. Given that fact, we are confident that upon review, the Bank of China will recognize that there are far superior development options, such as expanding the nearby Sarulla Geothermal Plant, which has more energy potential than the Batang Toru dam and doesn’t put the ecosystem at risk. We have also supported responsible run of the river hydro development in Indonesia in the past, and are happy to work with all stakeholders to find better locations and additional financing for hydro infrastructure.

“More broadly, we appreciate the significant gestures that China has made in recent weeks to address the global destruction of forests. This announcement builds upon Chinese state-owned food company COFCO’s emerging leadership in tackling agriculture-linked deforestation. Together, these actions suggest that China is starting to take real steps toward ensuring that overseas investments like its Belt and Road Initiative have a positive impact on our shared planet.

“Responsible Chinese international financing would be a huge boost for the environment and local peoples everywhere, and has the potential to dramatically change – for the better – the way that China is perceived around the world.”

Proyek Plta PT Nshe di Tapanuli Dibiayai dan Dimiliki Oleh Tiongkok

The coalition to protect the Tapanuli orangutan pushed back against claims that opposition to the Batang Toru dam has only been driven by foreigners. The group pointed out that the state-owned Bank of China is funding the project and the Chinese state-owned construction company Sinohydro is the company building the dam. Those promoting the dam's construction are falling back on the familiar patter of blaming outsiders for destruction happening in their own countries. But the science is clear: if the dam is built, the Tapanuli orangutan will go extinct. 

Menanggapi pernyataan Anggota Dewan Energi Nasional (DEN) yang mewakili unsur pemerhati lingkungan hidup, Sony Keraf, mengenai adanya intervensi asing terhadap proyek PLTA PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy (NSHE) yang dinilai tidak pantas, Koalisi Perlindungan Orangutan Tapanuli yang terdiri dari Mighty Earth, organisasi asal Amerika Serikat yang memang fokus pada pelestarian hutan tropis termasuk biota di dalamnya bersama 3 LSM Indonesia yakni Center of Orangutan Protection (COP), Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) dan Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) menyatakan bahwa melindungi spesies langka, terlebih baru ditemukan dan terancam habitatnya tanggung jawab bersama.

Panut Hadisiswoyo, Founding Director Orangutan Information Center, juga membantah bahwa anggapan intervensi asing dalam upaya penutupan proyek tersebut dinilai tidak pantas. Bahkan Panut membandingan dengan pendanaan dan kepemilikan proyek PLTA PT NSHE yang berasal dari Tiongkok.

“Ironisnya, apakah pembiayaan proyek oleh Bank of China dan kepemilikan oleh perusahaan hydroelectric raksasa dari Tiongkok, Sinohydro bukan termasuk intervensi asing? Sebagai investor, tentunya memiliki hak dalam kebijakan dari proyek tersebut,” ujar Panut. “Bank of China sendiri menyatakan dalam respon terhadap tekanan organisasi lingkungan bahwa Tiongkok mendukung perlindungan lingkungan secara global dan menegakkan prinsip pembiayaan hijau. Ini berarti bahwa Tiongkok mengakui bahwa negara-negara asing memang berkewajiban mendukung pelestarian lingkungan secara global.”

Waduk yang akan dibangun di Sungai Batang Toru, Sumatera Utara bersama perusahaan dari Tiongkok, Sinohydro dengan dana dari Bank of China ini dinilai mengancam spesies orangutan terbaru dan mata pencaharian penduduk asli di sana.

“Ketika kami mendukung tenaga air dengan teknik run-of-the river, bendungan yang dibangun di Batang Toru tidak sesuai dengan definisi tersebut. Saat pemerintah menggalakan pariwisata melalui kampanye ‘Wonderful Indonesia’, kita semua tidak bisa membiarkan proyek pembangunan PLTA Batang Toru ini mengancam kelangsungan hidup Orangutan Tapanuli – bagian dari warisan alam Indonesia yang menakjubkan dan baru saja ditemukan,” Glenn Hurowitz, CEO Mighty Earth menjelaskan.

Kecaman terhadap pembangunan proyek PLTA Batang Toru bukan tanpa alasan. Selain dari ancaman kepunahan spesies yang hanya hidup di hutan Batang Toru ini, ada banyak kekhawatiran jangka panjang yang akan terjadi ketika PLTA tersebut selesai dibangun, diantaranya lokasi PLTA berada di dalam zona merah gempa, daerah hilir sungai Batang Toru memiliki tingkat kerawanan banjir yang tinggi, berkurangnya debit air bagi masyarakat bantaran sungai, khususnya di hilir yang merupakan lokasi proyek senilai US$ 1,6 juta tersebut. Potensi resiko yang tidak sebanding dengan manfaat dari PLTA tersebut sudah disuarakan sejak awal, namun proyek tersebut tetap dilanjutkan, seolah-olah mengesampingkan pendapat para ahli dan masyarakat.

Orangutan Tapanuli baru dikukuhkan pada awal November 2017 sebagai spesies baru yang berbeda dari Orangutan Sumatera dan Kalimantan setelah ditemukan bayi kembar di Hutan Batang Toru. Para peneliti menilai masih ada harapan untuk menggabungkan habitat Orangutan tersebut di daerah hilir untuk mencegah kepunahan, namun lokasi tersebut menjadi titik utama proyek pembangunan PLTA yang dibangun oleh PT NSHE.

“Saya tidak terkejut dengan tudingan tentang kepentingan asing. Sudah biasa terjadi dalam kontroversi lingkungan hidup. Ketika argumentasi logis sudah tidak dapat dipatahkan lagi, biasa mereka menuding dengan pernyataan politik. Tentang pembabatan hutan membuka perkebunan kelapa sawit misalnya, sudah jelas telah menyebabkan genosida pada Orangutan dan juga menjadi ancaman nyata bagi harimau dan gajah, yang dilakukan malah sibuk tuding sana sini, bukannya menegakkan hukum,” jawab Hardi Baktiantoro, prinsipal Center of Orangutan Protection (COP).

Surat desakan kepada Presiden Joko Widodo dari Koalisi Perlindungan Orang Utan yang disampaikan pada Selasa, 5 Maret 2019 dan diterima oleh Kepala Staf Kepresidenan, Jenderal TNI Dr. Moeldoko, tidak hanya didukung oleh LSM asing, tapi juga oleh LSM-LSM Indonesia penggiat lingkungan, diantaranya Center of Orangutan Protection (COP), Orangutan Information Centre (OIC), Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), Franky Samperante (PUSAKA), Farwiza Farhan (Yayasan HakA), Kusnadi Oldani (FOKUS - Forum Orangutan Sumatra), Teguh Surya (Madani) dan Karlo Lumban Raja (Sawit Watch).

Sebelumnya, sebanyak 25 ilmuan terkemuka dunia tergabung dalam Allliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers (ALERT) mengirimkan surat kepada Presiden Joko Widodo pada Selasa, (10/7/18) melalui Kantor Staf Presiden (KSP) di Jakarta. Hal ini membuktikan bahwa protes atas proyek pembangunan PLTA tersebut murni karena perjuangan untuk menyelamatkan habitat Orangutan Tapanuli beserta ekosistem di sekitar Batang Toru dari ulah manusia.

“Ini adalah wujud aksi bersama untuk pelestarian ekosistem dan lingkungan khususnya di Batang Toru dan dunia pada umumnya. Jadi menyuarakan perlindungan lingkungan oleh warga atau organisasi asing bukanlah intervensi tapi memang sudah menjadi kewajiban bagi setiap individu yang masih hidup di planet bumi.” lanjut Panut.

Melihat potensi alam di Tapanuli, Sumatera Utara, PLTA bukan lah satu-satunya solusi bagi kebutuhan listrik bagi masyarakat sekitar. Masih banyak opsi lain salah satunya Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Panas Bumi (PLTP) Sarulla yang sudah beroperasi dan memiliki total kapasitas sebesar 3x110 MW, dan merupakan salah satu PLTP terbesar di dunia. Jika memang PLTA dianggap sebagai solusi bagi realisasi komitmen Pemerintah Indonesia atas Persetujuan Paris dalam memitigasi pemanasan global dan perubahan iklim. pemilihan lokasi yang dirasa kurang layak dan terkesan dipaksakan walaupun setelah ada bukti ditemukannya habitat Orangutan langka di area tersebut juga menjadi tanda tanya besar bagi para peneliti, ahli dan organisasi lingkungan sehingga muncul aksi protes atas AMDAL yang dilakukan dan perijinan proyek tersebut.

“Kami percaya pemerintah Indoensia mampu mengambil tindakan untuk melindungi keajaiban alam Indonesia dan spesies yang terancam punah, seperti yang dilakukan tahun 2016 saat rencana pembangunan pembangkit panas bumi di Taman Nasional Gunung Leuser ditolak. Pembicaraan kamu baik itu dengan pemerintah maupun PT NSHE sudah jelas bahwa kami dengan senang hati akan membantu mencari lokasi yang lebih baik untuk run-of-the-river hydropower dan mengembangkan beberapa alternatif lain, termasuk bagaimana menambah kapasitas PLTP Sarulla untuk mencukupi kebutuhan energi di daerah Sumatera Utara dan sekitarnya,” ujar Glenn.(*)