Melia Manter

Indigenous Organizations and NGOs Warn Top French Supermarket Casino: Stop Gambling With Our forests!

Indigenous Organizations and NGOs Warn Top French Supermarket Casino: Stop Gambling With Our forests!

French, Spanish, Portuguese

An international coalition of associations (Canopée, CPT, Envol Vert, Mighty Earth, Notre Affaire à Tous, and Sherpa) and representative Indigenous organisations from Colombia and Brazil (OPIAC, COIAB, FEPIPA and FEPOIMT) is calling on the Casino Group to take all necessary measures to exclude beef from deforestation and grabbing of Indigenous territories in its supply chains in Brazil, Colombia, and beyond. They also reserve the right to seek compensation for any resulting damages.

Casino/Pão de Açúcar/Grupo Éxito is one of the largest and most influential supermarket groups in France, as well as Brazil and Colombia – with massive purchases of meat worldwide, including in Brazil.

Cattle ranching is the main source of deforestation in the Amazon.

According to data from the INPE (Brazilian National Institute for Space Research), deforestation reached more 9,216 km2 in the Brazilian Amazon from August 2019 to July 2020, which is the key benchmark to observe the evolution of deforestation. This is 34.5% more than the previous period.

Cattle ranching is the main driver of this forest loss. Investigations carried out for nearly 10 years have repeatedly revealed the clear responsibility of beef slaughterhouses and distributors. Not only do they regularly source beef from recently deforested areas, but they turn a blind eye to suppliers’ “cattle laundering” practices that are aimed at circumventing Brazilian laws. These dodgy practices allow operations responsible for environmental crimes to sell their cattle ties to deforestation with impunity.

Meat from deforestation in Casino supermarkets in Brazil

The Casino Group is the top supermarket in Brazil through its subsidiary “Grupo Pão de Açúcar”. It represents 15% of the market share in Brazil, and Casino’s latin american operations account for nearly half of the group’s worldwide revenues (47%).

In June 2020, the NGO “Envol Vert” published a damning investigation highlighting evidence of recent deforestation and land grabbing practices carried out using samples of meat products sold in several Casino Group supermarkets in Brazil.

According to Boris Patentreger, founder of the association Envol Vert, “these investigations prove the links between farms involved in illegal deforestation and products sold in Casino supermarkets. These farms alone represent 4497 hectares of deforestation.”

Is Casino in violation of the French law on duty of vigilance?

Since 2017, the Casino Group has been subject to a new French law on the duty of vigilance, which requires it to take appropriate measures to prevent serious human rights violations, environmental harms, and health and safety harms to persons resulting from its operations, activities, and/or those of its subsidiaries, suppliers and subcontractors. While the Casino Group explicitly recognizes that the beef supply chain in Brazil is exposed to extremely serious risks, its policy in this area is clearly flawed.

According to Sandra Cossart, Executive Director of Sherpa, “the mere fact that Casino declares in its vigilance plan that 100% of its suppliers have adhered to its policy on deforestation, while these same suppliers are regularly condemned for their involvement in the deforestation, shows that this policy is either inadequate, or not implemented, or both. ”

Etelle Higonnet, Senior Campaign Director at Mighty Earth, added “Casino is buying beef from suppliers like JBS, which is one of the worst forest-destroying companies on the planet – and the biggest meat company worldwide. JBS has become notorious for corruption through the Car Wash scandal and its demonstrated track record of involvement in modern slavery, deforestation, Amazon fires, and Indigenous land grabbing. However, thanks to the new French law, Casino must finally take real responsibility for JBS and all its other meat suppliers driving deforestation or rights abuses. Indeed, all French supermarkets are now on notice: we’re serious about holding them accountable for respecting the law.”

For Célia Jouayed, of the Notre Affaire à Tous association, “we need large corporations like Casino to fully implement the law on the duty of vigilance, which requires them to take concrete measures to prevent risks to human rights, the environment, and health – not just to identify risks on paper.”

For lawyers Sébastien Mabile and François de Cambiaire of the ‘Seattle’ law firm, which is advising the civil society groups in this case, “this is a historic action against the Casino group, based on a pioneering law which will allow a French judge to prescribe necessary measures to halt Amazon destruction by French companies and repair damages suffered ”.

The associations OPIAC, COIAB, FEPIPA, FEPOIMT, CPT, Canopée, Envol Vert, Mighty Earth, Notre Affaire à Tous, and Sherpa formally ask the Casino Group to respect its legal obligations by taking all necessary measures to exclude all beef resulting from deforestation from its supply chain. If the company does not comply within the 3 months provided for by French law, the associations intend to refer the matter to the competent court.

Envol Vert acts for the preservation of forests and biodiversity in Latin America (mainly Colombia and Peru) and in France. Since 2011, we have been developing concrete and effective field projects that include the reforestation of degraded areas, the development of agroforestry and alternatives to illegal logging such as ecotourism, the development of nature reserves, conservation or conservation, and reintroduction of species. Envol Vert also conducts communication campaigns and awareness-raising actions to encourage businesses and citizens to change their production and consumption patterns.

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights. We focus on conserving threatened landscapes like tropical rainforests, protecting oceans, and solving climate change. Our campaigns and our team have played a leading role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to adopt policies to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuse from their supply chains, and driven adoption of multi-billion dollar shifts to clean energy.

Notre Affaire à Tous is an association that works to protect life, the natural commons and the climate through the use of law. Coming from the movement for the recognition of the crime of ecocide in international law in order to punish the most serious crimes against the environment and at the origin of the “Affair of the Century,” the members of Notre Affaire à Tous position themselves as “advocates fpr the planet”, seeking to establish through case law, legal advocacy, and citizen mobilization an effective and objective responsibility of humans towards the environment.

Seattle Avocats is a law firm specializing in issues of corporate liability for environmental and human rights violations. Mr. Sébastien Mabile and Mr. François de Cambiaire represent NGOs and communities within the framework of the first actions brought on the basis of the law on the duty of vigilance of companies, in particular against Total and against the transport group XPO Logistics, and are interested in particular to the debates underway at international and European level on the social and criminal responsibility of multinationals. With regard to particularly serious damage to the environment having equally serious consequences on the rights of Indigenous populations, the Seattle Avocats law firm provides its support and expertise to the international coalition of associations which call on the Casino group to stand by. comply with the law on the duty of vigilance.

Sherpa is an association created in 2001 whose mission is to fight new forms of impunity linked to globalization and to defend communities that are victims of economic crimes. Sherpa works to put the law at the service of a fairer globalization. The action of the association is based on four interdependent tools: research, litigation, advocacy and capacity building. These actions are carried out by a team of jurists and lawyers. Sherpa’s activities have helped compensate communities affected by economic crimes, and have contributed to historic court rulings against multinational companies and groundbreaking legislative policies.

OPIAC (Organización Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Amazonia Colombiana) is the Colombian Indigenous organization  the Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon before national and international institutions. Its main objective is to ensure that all the collective and individual rights of its members are respected and recognized by all actors located in the Colombian Amazon region.

COIAB (Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon) founded on April 19, 1989, is the largest regional indigenous organization in Brazil, which emerged on the initiative of leaders of indigenous organizations. The mission of COIAB is to defend the rights of indigenous peoples to land, health, education, culture and sustainability, taking into account the diversity of peoples and seeking their autonomy through political articulation and the strengthening of indigenous organizations.

FEPIPA (Federation of Indigenous Peoples of Pará) founded in April 2016, is an indigenous organization, created to promote the social, political, economic and cultural well-being and human rights of indigenous peoples. It aims to defend and discuss the collective interests of the indigenous peoples and communities of the State of Pará, promoting their social, cultural, economic and political organization, strengthening their autonomy.

FEPOIMT (Federation of Indigenous Peoples of Mato Grosso) created in June 2016 was born from the need to unite for political action and articulation, aimed at the social, cultural, economic organisation and the sustainable and political development of Indigenous Peoples and organisations of Mato Grosso. Its main challenges are the guarantee and regularization of land, environmental management, protection of the territory and the fight for Indigenous rights.

CPT (Pastoral Commission of the Earth) is part of the Pastoral Commissions of the Conference of Bishops of Brazil. It was created to defend the peasants and ensure a supportive and fraternal presence among the rural populations. Present in many dioceses, it is committed to the crucial issue of sharing the land and against the destruction of the environment.

Indonesia’s Big Palm Oil Firms Silently Complicit with Pro-Deforestation Omnibus bill

Indonesia’s Big Palm Oil Firms Silently Complicit with Pro-Deforestation Omnibus bill

September 9, 2020

Indonesia’s palm oil industry and its global buyers should urge Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Indonesian lawmakers to remove provisions of an economic stimulus “Omnibus Bill” that threaten to worsen deforestation and reverse recent successes in reducing forest loss, driven in large part by the adoption of more responsible palm oil production practices.

“This bill poses an existential threat to Indonesia’s forests – and risks dramatic economic losses for its palm oil industry, whose success is predicated on meeting international market expectations for responsible production,” said Phelim Kine, Senior Campaigns Director with Mighty Earth. “Leaders of major palm oil firms should break their silence and make it clear that this bill undermines years of progress they’ve made in driving down deforestation linked to palm oil production and will be a massive step backwards for the industry.”

Recent progress made in Indonesia by the palm oil industry in reducing deforestation and destruction of peat lands in its production chains – due in no small part to pressure and engagement from buyers, financiers, civil society groups, Indigenous peoples and frontline communities – has been a comparative bright spot in an otherwise disturbing trend of ongoing global deforestation.

An estimated 83% of palm oil refineries in Indonesia and Malaysia have committed to “No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE)” policies, an increase from 74% of refineries in November 2017. These commitments remain works in progress, but have contributed to a dramatic decline in deforestation for palm oil in Indonesia from a million acres a year to fewer than 250,000 acres in each of the past three years. Overall, according to analysis by the nongovernmental forest monitoring organization Global Forest Watch, primary forest loss in Indonesia has declined to its lowest levels since 2003.

Yet, the Indonesia parliament is poised to undo much of that progress by approving the Omnibus bill before the conclusion of the current legislative session on October 9, 2020.

The bill includes multiple provisions that analysts warn will worsen deforestation in Indonesia and by extension inflict international reputational harm on the palm oil sector. An analysis by the Indonesian nongovernmental organization Madani has warned that the bill weakens existing legal protections for natural forests with catastrophic potential impacts, including the complete destruction of natural forest cover in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, Bangka Belitung and Central Java over the next two to three decades.

Some of the bill’s troublesome provisions include:

  • Loosening the requirements for conducting environmental impact assessments of industrial and agribusiness projects.
  • Empowering the central government to approve business and investment in officially designated forest and peatland areas, which are currently under a deforestation moratorium.
  • Eliminating the current requirement that provinces maintain a minimum forest cover of 30% of provincial land and instead allowing provinces to set their own standards “proportionately.”
  • Eliminating strict legal liability for companies with fires occurring on their concession areas, which has served as a key incentive for companies to prevent and extinguish fires and refrain from burning.

President Jokowi’s administration has justified the bill’s expansive provisions, which involves the insertion of 174 new articles into 79 existing laws governing areas including taxation, labor, investment and the environment, as an essential job creation tool amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ironically, the bill’s problematic environmental provisions could actually worsen economic prospects for the palm oil industry. Major palm oil importers including the European Union and United Kingdom are considering increasingly more stringent environmental standards for agricultural imports, including palm oil. Industry implementation of “No Deforestation, No Peatland, No Exploitation” (NDPE) policies has helped ensure Indonesian producers can meet those standards. Passage of this Omnibus bill as is will likely encourage more deforestation by palm oil producers, tainting the industry and its customers as a whole. The bill’s pro-deforestation elements also fly in the face of the Indonesian Government’s enactment in August 2019 of a permanent moratorium on forest clearing for timber and plantation development.

Despite the reputational and economic stakes, major palm oil traders including Wilmar, Golden Agri, Musim Mas, Bunge, Sime Darby, and Louis Dreyfus have failed to voice concerns about the Omnibus Bill. Major consumer goods producers including Unilever and Nestle, who have committed to NDPE policies, have likewise appeared silent about the bill.

The glaring exception to this has been PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk, a subsidiary of the British conglomerate Jardine Matheson, which has, through its leadership, expressed support for the bill. Astra Agro Lestari, Indonesia’s second largest palm oil producer, has significant influence within both the palm oil sector and the Indonesian government through Joko Supriyono, Astra’s Vice President Director and Chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association, or GAPKI.

Despite Astra’s adoption in 2015 of a No Deforestation policy, in February 2020, Supriyono expressed unqualified support for the Omnibus Bill as “a solution to the complexity of licensing in the palm oil sector.” He added that “GAPKI must be part of the birth of the Omnibus Law by actively contributing to it. This is none other than the interests of the national palm oil sector.” Since that full-throated expression of support for the Omnibus Bill GAPKI, Supriyono and Jardine Matheson subsidiary Astra Agro Lestari have ignored the bill’s ramifications for Indonesia’s forests.

The importance of the palm oil sector in engaging the Indonesian government on the dangers posed by the Omnibus Bill is heightened by the Government’s inadequate public consultation on the bill’s substance and implications. In July a coalition of Indonesian environmental and civil society groups flagged that failure in a public letter to domestic and international financiers, warning that the bill’s passage will mean that “Indonesian​​ current laws and regulations will no longer​​ comply​​ with​​ globally accepted​​ environmental and social safeguards.”

The palm oil sector has an opportunity to divert the serious long term economic and environmental fallout posed by the bill by taking the following steps:

  • Immediately conveying its concerns about the elements of the bill that undermine the forest conservation and human rights agenda to Jokowi’s office and the Indonesian parliament
  • Urging the Government to freeze proceedings on the bill until it undertakes proper consultations with environmental and civil society groups
  • Advocating for environmental and agricultural policies that boost economic growth while conserving forests and peatlands and recognizing the customary land rights of Indigenous peoples

Decarbonization of Steel and Concrete Ignored in UN Ministerial Meeting on Green Recovery

Today, Japanese Minister for the Environment Shinjiro Koizumi led a virtual meeting of more than 50 ministers and cross-sector stakeholders from around the world to develop a shared vision for a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and launch a new online Platform for Redesign 2020. Following the meeting, Mighty Earth campaign director Margaret Hansbrough issued the following statement:

“While it was encouraging to see such a unified effort across nations to align around some core principles for a green recovery agenda, it is inexcusable that they failed to even mention the carbon impact of the steel and concrete industries. These sectors alone are responsible for about 15 percent of all global emissions, and have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Green recovery policies for steel and concrete could secure lasting emissions reductions, but a failure to act means we may never achieve the reductions we need in the next five to ten years to meet a 1.5 degree target.

“Industrial decarbonization needs to be a top green recovery priority, full stop. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tie the recovery of these industries to technologies that reduce carbon emissions. Now is the time for Minister Koizumi to step up with specific plans for Japan to tackle the climate emissions from its dirtiest industries. As the number three producer of steel in the world, and a leader in research and development, Japan has a critical role to play in the decarbonization of steelmaking and heavy industry more broadly. Keidanren and heavy industry have been allowed to block climate progress in Japan for far too long.

"We need Koizumi to press forward with recovery assistance that includes game-changing investments in hydrogen as an industrial heating source, carbon capture and storage, and other breakthrough technologies that will revolutionize steelmaking and other industrial processes. These investments must be core to a green recovery, because only dramatic action on decarbonization is going to deliver the results we need to avoid climate catastrophe.”

Agroforestry in the cocoa sector: A need for ambitious collaborative landscape approaches

August 2020

Cocoa agroforestry systems can bring a wide range of ecological benefits; biodiversity con-servation of ora and fauna, carbon sequestration, preserving and strengthening soil mois-ture and fertility, contributing to pest control, and microclimatic control such as stimulating rainfall, and many other benefits.

Read here

Trump's Corporate Allies Use COVID-19 to Roll Back Critical Ocean Protections

Our world is in the middle of multiple crises. From COVID-19 to the climate crisis, the United States government is far behind on acting with the urgency that is needed to protect our national health, economy, and our daily lives. And, as with most issues we face, the most vulnerable communities- workers and communities of color- are the ones who are suffering the most. For fisherpeople in the United States, the massive decline in demand for fish has meant that boats sit docked, with no market for fish. Instead of focusing efforts and resources on supporting hardworking fisherpeople, the Trump administration, fueled by special interests, has been busy rolling back protections on ocean sanctuaries. This move will not restore the livelihoods of fisherpeople and instead threatens the health of our oceans for generations to come.  

Ocean sanctuaries are home to incredible creatures that exist nowhere else on earth. They are critical to our planet and economy’s resiliency in the face of climate change because they offer areas for fish populations to rebuild. Because of this, healthy and protected oceans are vital for the livelihoods of fisherpeople and seafood industry workers. Further, ocean sanctuaries can protect coastal habitats that are essential for mitigating climate risks like rising sea levels and extreme weather events, which have already disproportionally impacted Black and brown communities. We cannot allow the Trump administration to start rolling back protections to these critical areas and create further risk for oceans and the people who depend on them. 

Unfortunately, in June, President Trump broke the law by opening the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, located off the coast of southern New England, to commercial fishing, with an executive order that will devastate the incredible wildlife in these national treasures. Now, the administration, under the influence of big corporations like StarKist Tuna, is considering opening the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments in Hawaii and the Pacific. 

Scientists warn that we need to protect at least 30 percent of our oceans by 2030 in order to defend against the worst impacts of climate change and ensure the health of our fisheries and other critical marine species. By opening up ocean sanctuaries to commercial fishing, Trump has once again aligned himself with special interests and big business rather than supporting and defending coastal communities, ensuring the future of fishing, and standing with all of us who love and depend on our oceans. Do not let corporations like StarKist use a global pandemic as a sneaky and disingenuous excuse to undermine critical climate resiliency efforts, further exploit fisherpeople and coastal communities, and threaten the future of fishing for generations to come. 

Sign our petition here. 

Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 Webinar

Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 Webinar

July 31, 2020

Mighty Earth recently hosted a webinar for the launch of our Cocoa Accountability Map 2.0 as part of our effort to trigger a transparency and traceability revolution in the cocoa sector. Our updated Cocoa Accountability Map now has land use information for all of Côte d’Ivoire, new supply chain information, and better cocoa cooperative data.

This webinar brought together mapping and deforestation experts from across the globe. The webinar provided a rare opportunity for these experts, with similar goals, to engage with one another and provide updates on what they are doing.

Most importantly, it gave us a chance to showcase that mapping is happening in the cocoa sector. Mapping is already a reality despite efforts of government agencies and certain companies to slow or stop the trend. High quality mapping of cocoa and deforestation for cocoa is possible, real, and tangible – though unfortunately up to this point has yet to be led or coordinated in any substantial way by the Cocoa & Forest Initiative.

Traceability of supply chains is also evolving in cocoa. With notable exceptions of Ferrero/Nutella, Blommer/Fuji Oil, and Mondelez/Cadbury, most major cocoa traders and chocolate manufacturing companies have disclosed or are in the process of disclosing their direct supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire.

However, collaboration and leadership will be key to put this mapping and traceability information into good use. Speakers in the webinar evoked the leitmotif that mapping and traceability data must be concretely used for action on the ground, to finally put an end to deforestation and other abuses in cocoa.

The featured speakers were:

For more information, please check out the presentation slides and additional questions and answers from the webinar.

The Cocoa Accountability Map will continue to be updated with more information and a more user-friendly interface from now until the fall. Look out for Mighty Earth’s Cocoa Accountability Map 3.0  and mapping webinar happening in October.

Consumer Brands Set Precedent by Suspending Samling Group

As the notorious timber and palm oil conglomerate Samling Group continues to destroy rainforests, Mighty Earth’s new scorecard reveals that many consumer brands like Nestlé and Unilever have taken action to suspend the group from their palm oil supply chains 

These actions could signal a new trend of adopting zero tolerance towards egregious groups that continue to engage in deforestation, peatland destruction and exploitation of vulnerable forest-dependent communities. However, urgent action is needed to close out markets for other rainforest destroyers like Samling. 

Our Rapid Response Deforestation Monitoring system uses satellite imagery to detect new instances of deforestation and peatland development across palm oil and timber plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. The system identified at least 1,038 hectares of deforestation since August 2017 within Samling’s concessions in Sarawak, Malaysia. This is one of the largest amounts of deforestation by any single group detected by Rapid Response over the past three yearsFurthermore, the company has a long history of egregious human rights abuses.  

Therefore, buying palm oil from Samling constitutes a serious violation of the No-Deforestation, No-Peat and No-Exploitation (NDPE) policies that many of the world’s largest consumer brands have adopted. Mighty Earth reviewed the publicly available palm oil mill lists of these brands and contacted 17 companies that disclosed supply chain links to Samling. 

More than half of the 17 brands have taken the progressive step of instructing their suppliers to suspend Samling, earning an “A” score. These companies include Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, FrieslandCampina, Hershey’s, Nestlé, PZ Cussons, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever and Upfield. 

By issuing a clear suspension instruction to their direct suppliers, these brands have taken a preventative stance on purging Samling palm oil from their supply chains. These suspensions block potential points of leakage from other companies that continue to source from Samling, such as BLD Plantation (part of the KTS Group), even though the company has adopted an NDPE policy. They also ensure that brands are not reliant on their direct suppliers – palm oil traders – to maintain suspensions themselves on rogue palm oil producers and sends a much stronger signal upstream that noncompliant producers will not have access to the NDPE markets. 

An example of an “A score from a brand is: We have communicated the suspension of direct / indirect supply from this group until further investigations and corrective actions are taken.” 

Many other brands have failed to issue a clear directive to all suppliers to suspend Samling but have engaged with their palm oil suppliers to ensure Samling palm oil is not entering their supply chains, receiving a “B.” These companies are General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Mars, P&G and PepsiCo 

An example of a “B” score from a brand is: We identified potential links through several of our direct suppliers. We reached out to all suppliers with potential links to Samling and confirmed that all have either suspended or will not engage Samling in their supply chains.” 

Avon and Mondelēz International have failed to respond to Mighty Earth’s repeated emails, earning an “F.”  

In total, 88% of brands in our scorecard have taken varying levels of action to expel Samling palm oil from their supply chains. Notably, these consumer brands acted largely as a result of the evidence of Samling’s ongoing deforestation for timber plantations rather than for palm oil production Doing so demonstrates that brands have begun to understand the need to implement a group-level, cross-commodity approach to eradicating deforestation from their supply chain. For true transformational change, brands should exclude groups from their supply chains that continue to engage in deforestation and human rights abuses, regardless of what commodity was the driver of the violations.  In the end, the profits from commercial purchases go to the group’s owners or beneficiaries, who use them to continue their destructive practices and/or expand their business.  

However, more action is needed. Samling continues to destroy rainforest and has not adopted a group-wide NDPE policy or committed to remediate past destruction and abuses. Other tycoon-owned Sarawak logging and palm oil conglomerates such as Rimbunan Hijau Group and Shin Yang Group continue to clear rainforest in Sarawak and are still in the supply chains of major palm oil traders and consumer brands.   

The Samling case illustrates the value of transparency.  Based on companies’ public mill lists, Mighty Earth was able to communicate with key buyers of Samling and enable them to take action.  Those brands whose supply chains remain hidden from public view remain at severe risk of having rogue actors like Samling lurking in their supply chains. They cannot guarantee consumers that they have proper due diligence processes in place to eliminate deforestation and human rights violations from their supply chains.  For example, brands such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks and Yum Brands! have refused to release any publicly available information about the mills that they’re sourcing their palm oil from.   

Until consumer brands commit to true traceability, transparency and implementation of their NDPE policies, palm oil from unethical suppliers like Samling will continue to infiltrate the supply chains of many of the brands we know and love.  

Consumer Brand



Note to Readers
Our scoring rubric for evaluating company actions in response to Samling’s record was as follows:

A: Full Suspension
Company has communicated a “no-buy” requirement to their palm oil suppliers to ensure Samling is excluded from their supply chains

B: Partial Suspension
Company has not issued a formal “no-buy” requirement; however, the company has taken other significant action to ensure Samling palm oil is excluded from their supply chain

C: Engagement
Company is engaging their suppliers on the issue of Samling

F: No response
Company has not responded to Mighty Earth’s emails

Une coalition historique pour le Cacao Durable au Ghana et en Côte d’Ivoire

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Déclaration Commune de 350 ONG ivoiriennes qui soutiennent l’initiative du Gouvernement visant à garantir un revenu suffisant aux planteurs et à protéger les forêts

ABIDJAN, CÔTE D'IVOIRE – Aujourd’hui, 350 ONG environnementales, des droits humains et de bonne gouvernance signent une déclaration collective qui souligne les étapes que les gouvernements ghanéen et ivoirien doivent prendre pour promouvoir un cacao durable, tout en aidant les paysans et en protégeant les forêts.

Les signataires, au nombre desquels l’Observatoire Ivoirien pour la gestion durable des Ressources Naturelles (OI-REN), La Convention de la Société Civile Ivoirienne (CSCI), l’Institut Africain pour le Développement Économique et Social (INADES) et certaines coalitions importantes comme le Regroupement des Acteurs Ivoirien des Droits de l'Homme (RAIDH) soutiennent la mise en œuvre d’un prix plancher annoncé par les gouvernements du Ghana et de la Côte d’Ivoire. Ils demandent, par contre, la garantie que le nouveau prix plancher fournira des revenus additionnels aux paysans, sans pour autant accroitre la déforestation. La lettre fait écho aux appels précédents pour un prix plancher bien géré des sociétés civiles du Ghana, du Cameroun, de l’Union Européenne et des Etats-Unis. La déclaration commune souligne que l’implémentation de cette initiative est devenue plus urgente à cause de la pandémie mondiale du coronavirus qui amplifie la pauvreté et perturbe l’économie.

“La société civile s’unit pour se battre pour le cacao durable,” dit Amourlaye Touré, le Représentant de Mighty Earth en Afrique de l’Ouest. “ Un prix plancher pour le cacao est une étape importante mais les gouvernements doivent maintenant assurer que l’industrie va effectivement payer les prix indiqués et que les fonds levés par cette initiative iront vraiment aux paysans qui reçoivent actuellement moins d’un dollar par jour.”

La déclaration commune des ONG souligne qu’il importe, afin de prévenir d’éventuels détournements, que les revenus générés par le prix plancher soient gérés de façon transparente, avec des avantages pour les paysans appauvris. En Côte d’Ivoire, notamment, l’agence responsable de la gestion des aires protégées n’a pas toujours été sans reproche en matière de corruption ; des problèmes similaires affectent les autorités ghanéennes qui sont responsables de la régulation de la déforestation. Selon la Banque Mondiale, comme signalé par Reuters, “La corruption et la mauvaise gestion de l’industrie du cacao au Ghana nuisent à la production et fragilise les paysans, mettant en lumière le besoin urgent de réformes.”

La nouvelle déclaration commune met également les gouvernements ivoirien et ghanéen face à leurs responsabilités en ce qu’ils doivent s’assurer que le prix plancher ne déclenche pas une vague de déforestation dans un environnement naturel déjà dévasté. En effet, la Côte d’Ivoire et le Ghana ont les taux les plus élevés de déforestation dans le monde ! Les deux pays ont perdu environ 90 pour cent de leurs forêts, depuis leur indépendance, dont un tiers du fait du cacao.

“Généralement, quand le prix d’un produit augmente, la déforestation s’accroît également. Les deux gouvernements doivent agir maintenant et mettre à exécution le mécanisme de surveillance conjoint, comme ils l’avaient promis en 2017 dans le cadre de l’Initiative Cacao et Forêts (ICF),” affirme le représentant de Mighty Earth. “ Des progrès réels ont été accomplis dans la lutte contre la déforestation. Le Ghana et la Côte d’Ivoire sont parvenus à réduire la perte de forêts primaires de 50 pour cent, de 2018 à 2019. Il ne faut donc montrer aucune complaisance.”

La société civile fait aussi pression pour un nouvel engagement à respecter les droits des petits planteurs de cacao qui sont particulièrement vulnérables. Le nouveau code forestier annoncé l’an dernier résulterait en l’éviction de milliers de petits paysans. Il est estimé que 1.5 à 2 millions de planteurs de cacao vivent dans des forêts protégées et des parcs nationaux au Ghana et en Côte d’Ivoire. Bien que le gouvernement de Côte d’Ivoire ait le droit de récupérer les forêts destinées à être conservées, la loi internationale protège contre les expulsions forcées qui ne respectent pas la dignité et les droits des personnes vivant sur ces sites.

Enfin, la déclaration commune fait remarquer que des efforts supplémentaires sont nécessaires pour mettre fin au travail des enfants dans l’industrie du cacao.

La pandémie due au coronavirus a aggravé certaines difficultés existantes. Un nombre plus grand de paysans ont du mal à subvenir à leurs besoins vitaux et le travail des enfants ne recule pas à cause de la crise économique qui s’intensifie. “Il faut que le prix plancher du cacao soit bien géré afin de protéger les moyens de subsistance des producteurs et pour renforcer les progrès constatés au cours des dernières années pour un cacao durable.”


Historic Coalition Speaks Out for Sustainable Cocoa in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire

Version française ici

Joint Declaration by 350 different NGOs calls for government action to support farmers and protect forests

ABIDJAN, CÔTE D'IVOIRE – Today, 350 environmental, human rights, and good governance NGOs joined a historic letter outlining steps that the Ghanaian and Ivorian governments must take encourage sustainable cocoa while supporting farmers and protecting forests.

The signatories, which include an Ivorian research institute (INADES) and key coalitions such as the Ivorian Civil Society Convention (CSCI), the Ivorian Observatory on Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (OIREN), and the Coalition of Ivorian Human Rights Actors (RAIDH), specifically support the implementation of a floor price for cocoa as announced by the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast but call for additional safeguards to ensure the new price floor provides income to cocoa farmers without incentivizing additional deforestation. The letter echoes earlier calls for a well-managed price floor from civil society organizations in Ghana, Cameroon, and the EU and US. The joint declaration further highlights that these issues have taken on added urgency as the global coronavirus pandemic exacerbates poverty and disrupts the economy.

“Civil society is coming together to fight for sustainable cocoa,” said Amourlaye Touré, Mighty Earth’s West Africa Representative. “A cocoa price floor is an important step, but the governments must now ensure that industry actually pays the mandated price and that the new funds raised from this initiative actually make it back to the cocoa farmers – many of whom are surviving on less than a dollar a day.”

The joint statement from the NGOs stresses the importance of preventing possible diversions and says that the revenue generated by the price floor must be managed transparently, with benefits accruing to impoverished farmers. In Côte d’Ivoire, the agency responsible for managing Protected Areas has not always been blameless for corruption; similar problems affect Ghanaian authorities with jurisdiction over deforestation for cocoa as well. According to the World Bank, as reported by Reuters, “Corruption and regulatory mismanagement of Ghana’s cocoa industry are hurting production and harming farmers, underlining the need for reform.”

The new Joint Declaration challenges the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments to ensure that the floor price does not trigger a wave of new deforestation in an already devastated landscape. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have had some of the historically highest rates of deforestation in the world. Both countries have lost approximately 90 percent of their forests since independence, with about one-third of that loss driven by cocoa.

“Typically, when a commodity price goes up, deforestation also goes up. The governments must act now to implement the joint monitoring mechanisms they promised to build in 2017 as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative,” said the Mighty Earth representative. “We’ve seen real progress in addressing deforestation – Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire both saw primary forest loss decrease by 50 percent from 2018 to 2019 – but now is not the time to get complacent.”

Civil society also pushed for new commitments to respect for the rights of vulnerable smallholder cocoa producers. A new forestry policy announced last year will likely result in the evictions of thousands of small-scale cocoa farmers, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million cocoa farmers living in protected forests and national parks in Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring Ghana. Although the Ivorian government has the right to reclaim forests intended for conservation, international law protects anyone who occupies land from forced evictions that do not respect the dignity and rights of those affected, regardless of where they are living.

Finally, the Joint Declaration notes that more must be done to address child labor in the industry.

“The coronavirus pandemic has compounded existing problems – more farmers are going hungry and child labor is skyrocketing as the economic impacts worsen,” said Touré. ”We need a well-managed cocoa floor price to protect people’s livelihoods and consolidate the gains we have made in recent years for sustainable cocoa.”

For a campaigner against deforestation, almost dying of COVID-19 was ironic

Mighty Earth's Etelle Higonnet has worked for years to reform the palm oil, rubber, soy, and cocoa industries, which are heavily involved in tropical deforestation. Pandemics like COVID-19 are linked with deforestation and the wildlife trade, and she’s married to a public health expert, so it was ironic that she nearly lost her life to the disease last month.

Higonnet argues that ending the wildlife trafficking which seems to have caused the pandemic is of no use if animals’ forest homes continue to be bulldozed, sending them into contact with people. She reflected on her experience with COVID-19 and the relation to her work in a commentary for Mongabay:

The more we encroach into forests, the likelier it is we humans will come into contact with heretofore undisturbed animals, whose pathogens will have the exciting opportunity to penetrate new victims – us. And when we raze forests, their animal inhabitants stumble into our human strongholds. I’ve witnessed it firsthand in my work: disoriented, lost, homeless creatures seeking a last desperate toehold even in areas where humans abound.

Read the full piece in Mongabay. This piece is also available in Bahasa, Spanish, and Chinese.