Palm Oil

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Found Using Paper Linked to Rainforest Destruction

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Found Using Paper Linked to Rainforest Destruction

The Australian NGO Markets for Change and Mighty Earth launched a campaign this week targeting News Corp Australia over its ties with rainforest destroyer Korindo. The organizations distributed parody newspapers of News Corp’s Australian newspapers, The Courier Mail (“The Courier Fail”) and The Australian ("The Not Australian"), outside News Corp offices in Sydney and Brisbane.

Investigations by Mighty Earth and Markets for Change found that The Australian and The Courier Mail are being printed in the Australian state of Queensland on newsprint produced by Aspex. Aspex is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo, which Mighty Earth exposed for causing massive rainforest destruction for palm oil and timber products in Indonesia. Our groups informed News Corp of the connection in a letter and an in-person meeting, but so far no concrete action has been taken by the company.

The activists handed out parody newspapers dubbed the “Not Australian” and “The Courier Fail” to News Corp employees and passersby which, while satirical, expose the serious ways in which News Corp’s purchases of newsprint from Korindo helps finance the company’s rainforest destruction in Indonesia, and urge News Corp to switch to a responsible supplier. In fact, News Corp already uses a different supplier for the bulk of its papers, so a switch is entirely feasible. In addition, the newspaper company NZME, owner of the New Zealand Herald and other papers in New Zealand, recently made the switch away from Aspex and is now sourcing from alternative recycled newsprint suppliers.

Pressure from customers has convinced Korindo to enact a moratorium on new forest clearing, but it’s only temporary, and the forest remains at risk.  If News Corp acts to sever ties with Korindo, it could force Korindo to stop the bulldozers once and for all. Click here to send a letter to News Corp.

You can get your own copies of the Not Australian and the Courier Fail here!

Here are some of our favorite photos from the actions in Sydney and Brisbane over the past week.


Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Found Using Paper Linked to Rainforest Destruction

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Found Using Paper Linked to Rainforest Destruction

The Australian NGO Markets for Change and Mighty Earth launched a campaign this week targeting News Corp Australia over its ties with rainforest destroyer Korindo. The organizations distributed parody newspapers of News Corp’s Australian newspapers, The Courier Mail (“The Courier Fail”) and The Australian ("The Not Australian"), outside News Corp offices in Sydney and Brisbane.

 

Investigations by Mighty Earth and Markets for Change found that The Australian and The Courier Mail are being printed in the Australian state of Queensland on newsprint produced by Aspex. Aspex is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo, which Mighty Earth exposed for causing massive rainforest destruction for palm oil and timber products in Indonesia. Our groups informed News Corp of the connection in a letter and an in-person meeting, but so far no concrete action has been taken by the company.  

 

The activists handed out parody newspapers dubbed the “Not Australian” and “The Courier Fail” to News Corp employees and passersby which, while satirical, expose the serious ways in which News Corp’s purchases of newsprint from Korindo helps finance the company’s rainforest destruction in Indonesia, and urge News Corp to switch to a responsible supplier. In fact, News Corp already uses a different supplier for the bulk of its papers, so a switch is entirely feasible. In addition, the newspaper company NZME, owner of the New Zealand Herald and other papers in New Zealand, recently made the switch away from Aspex and is now sourcing from alternative recycled newsprint suppliers.  

 

Pressure from customers has convinced Korindo to enact a moratorium on new forest clearing, but it’s only temporary, and the forest remains at risk.  If News Corp acts to sever ties with Korindo, it could force Korindo to stop the bulldozers once and for all. Click here to send a letter to News Corp.

You can get your own copies of the Not Australian and the Courier Fail here!

Here are some of our favorite photos from the actions in Sydney and Brisbane over the past week.


Video release: “Burning Paradise” One Year Later

Today, Mighty Earth and KFEM released a new video showing Korindo’s forest destruction for palm oil and highlighting the developments since the campaign launch. This video marks the one-year anniversary of the release of the Burning Paradise report and urges continued action to save the precious, ancient rainforests of Papua and North Maluku from Korindo’s destruction.  

In the past year, following the release of Burning Paradise and global media exposure of its deforestation, Korindo lost many of its largest customers, which determined that Korindo’s practices violated their No Deforestation policies. These include the global palm oil traders Wilmar, Musim Mas, ADM, and IOI, the pulp and paper giant APRIL, and dozens of major brands around the world such as Kellogg’s, Nestle, and Unilever, which demanded that Korindo remain excluded from their supply chains. Siemens Gamesa, Iberdrola, Nordex, and other companies that have purchased wind towers from Korindo have urged Korindo to clean up it act.  In addition, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a sustainability certification body for the forestry sector, announced that, following a complaint filed by Mighty, it is investigating whether Korindo violated FSC criteria.  In response to customer concerns, Korindo announced a moratorium on land development on its palm oil concessions and agreed to conducting sustainability assessments. However, this isn’t enough to ensure the forest remains protected.

A forest the size of New York City (75,000 hectares) remains in Korindo’s concession areas and is at immediate risk of destruction. Korindo still refuses to announce a strong group-wide No Deforestation policy, has already breached its moratorium, and has hired sustainability assessors whose assessments have been rejected by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil for being of “poor quality”.  Korindo has agreed to maintain its moratorium until its sustainability assessments have been approved by the industry’s quality review panels (the HCV Resource Network’s Assessor Licensing Scheme and the High Carbon Stock Approach’s Quality Review Panel), yet has paradoxically been angling in recent weeks to begin clearing forest again.  

Papua is a rainforest paradise--the third largest intact rainforest in the world--but Korindo is at the forefront of a move by large agribusiness to convert these thriving forests into vast monoculture industrial plantations.  Until recently, it was able to operate without much scrutiny due to the remoteness of the location and its inaccessibility for civil society and journalists. We hope this video provides a glimpse of what is at stake, and compels significant action around the world to save this rainforest paradise.   

Citizens around the world can join our effort by sharing the video, and signing the petition to Korindo.


Papuan Community Leaders Call For Protection of Indigenous Rights; Also Hit Back at Korindo Group’s Manipulation of Stakeholder Meeting

On August 9th, leaders from Papuan indigenous communities hosted a press conference in Merauke in honor of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and timed with the first Papuan Film Festival which focused on the theme of indigenous rights and environmental sustainability.  

Their press release describes the situation faced by many indigenous communities in Papua whose lands have been permitted for monoculture commodity agriculture:

“Currently, permits for large scale commercial investment in the natural resource industries, including mining, plantations and logging, as well as infrastructure, have been issued across the majority of the lands and forests which make up the homelands of the indigenous peoples of Papua.

This subject is depicted in some of the films in the Papuan Film Festival currently taking place in Merauke. In Merauke and Boven Digoel Regencies, the government has issued permits for plantations and industrial timber estates covering a vast area.

Policy and investment activity is only based on private capital-intensive investment, technology and modern organisation, a model which has been seen in practice to disregard the rights of indigenous Papuans, limit or eliminate entirely indigenous people's access to the land which provides their livelihoods, result in horizontal conflict or disharmony, violence and human rights violations, as well as widespread environmental destruction."

Hitting Back at Korindo Group’s Manipulation

The press conference was also a community effort to set the record straight regarding a recent stakeholder meeting on palm oil development in Papua, held in Jakarta, with the local governments and the palm oil company Korindo Group, that the indigenous leaders felt was manipulated to appear as if their views were represented:  

“The head of Nakias village, Mr Melkior Wayoken, suspected that manipulation had taken place to produce statements supporting the company, and that certain individuals had claimed to represent the indigenous community and village governments of Nakias, Tagaepe and Yalhak villages. According to Melkior, one individual was masquerading as the village head and signed a statement, and then used the village government stamp. ‘The statement was made without my knowledge, even though I am the village head, and then they joined the Bupatis of Merauke and Boven Digoel on their trip to the meeting in Jakarta. It was only afterwards that I heard they had signed a letter claiming to be the village government. I was shocked, and so I want to say that I, speaking to you now, am the real village head, and I clearly don't accept this. If they knew I was here then why didn't they call on me, as the leader of the village administration in the area the company is working? I've been elected by the people of Nakias village and they knew I was in Merauke, so why didn't they ask me?’, Melkior explained.”

Calling For Action

Y.L. Franky, the Director of Yayasan Pusaka in Jakarta, spoke at the press conference about the underlying problems facing indigenous people in Papua. According to Franky, the serious problems indigenous people have to face include the loss of their rights and sovereignty, a lack of participation in development to determine its direction, the loss of a sense of security and the limits on the right to free expression, and the loss of autonomy to develop productive economic enterprises.

The leaders called for the following actions:

  1. Local government must oversee investment activities to make sure they are legal, and do not violate the rights of indigenous people or destroy the environment.
  2. Local governments should issue policy and develop programmes which respect the rights of indigenous Papuans and protect the land which provides their livelihood.
  3. Local government should carry out an audit of all plantation companies present in the area, review any permits or contracts which violate indigenous people's basic rights or disadvantage indigenous people.
  4. We urge companies to respect the basic rights of indigenous Papuans, to avoid causing horizontal conflict within indigenous communities, not to use state security forces to protect their investment, to respect any community decisions not to surrender their lands and forests for business purposes, to protect important sites for the community and to provide adequate economic empowerment for the community and for company workers, without discrimination.

Here is an English translation of the full press release:

Press Release

Indigenous people from Nakias Tagaepe and Ihalik villages, Wambon Tekamerob Indigenous Community, SKP KAMe, Sawit Watch, Yayasan PUSAKA, Papuan Voices, Belantara Papua, SKPKC Fransiskan Papua, Garda Papua, Suara Papua, Tabloid Jubi, Yayasan Teratai Hati Papua (YHTP), Papuan Independent Students Forum, PMKRI Merauke Branch.

Hormati Hak Orang Asli Papua dan Lindungi Ruang Hidup Masyarakat Adat

Respect Indigenous Papuans' Rights and Protect the Spaces which Provide Indigenous Livelihoods.

Today we are commemorating the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. This date was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994. The indigenous peoples' struggle at the international level has already resulted in the UN General Assembly adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the 13th September 2007. This historic event for indigenous peoples deserves serious attention, a sign of respect for those who are still fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples.

Currently, permits for large scale commercial investment in the natural resource industries, including mining, plantations and logging, as well as infrastructure, have been issued across the majority of the lands and forests which make up the homelands of the indigenous peoples of Papua.

This subject is depicted in some of the films in the Papuan Film Festival currently taking place in Merauke. In Merauke and Boven Digoel Regencies, the government has issued permits for plantations and industrial timber estates covering a vast area.

Policy and investment activity is only based on private capital-intensive investment, technology and modern organisation, a model which has been seen in practice to disregard the rights of indigenous Papuans, limit or eliminate entirely indigenous people's access to the land which provides their livelihoods, result in horizontal conflict or disharmony, violence and human rights violations, as well as widespread environmental destruction.

Recently a stakeholder meeting took place in Jakarta, attended by the governments of Merauke and Boven Digoel, the Korindo Group, and individuals who described themselves as representatives of indigenous communities in Merauke and Boven Digoel. A topic discussed in the meeting was that land could not be cleared for a community smallholding scheme, because NGOs had issued a moratorium.

The head of Nakias village, Mr Melkior Wayoken, suspected that manipulation had taken place to produce statements supporting the company, and that certain individuals had claimed to represent the indigenous community and village governments of Nakias, Tagaepe and Yalhak villages. According to Melkior, one individual was masquerading as the village head and signed a statement, and then used the village government stamp. "The statement was made without my knowledge, even though I am the village head, and then they joined the Bupatis of Merauke and Boven Digoel on their trip to the meeting in Jakarta. It was only afterwards that I heard  they had signed a letter claiming to be the village government. I was shocked, and so I want to say that I, speaking to you now, am the real village head, and I clearly don't accept this. If they knew I was here then why didn't they call on me, as the leader of the village administration in the area the company is working? I've been elected by the people of Nakias village and they knew I was in Merauke, so why didn't they ask me?", Melkior explained.

Father Anselmus Amo, MSC, the director of SKP KAMe (the Justice and Peace Secretariat of Merauke Catholic Archdiocese), stated his opinion, that a moratorium is not issued by an NGO. This is a misleading statement, and it is irresponsible to make such claims. A moratorium places obligations on a company to abide by regulations issued by government. Recently the Indonesian Government's moratorium on new permits in primary forests and peatlands was renewed, via a presidential directive. So what's all this about NGOs placing a moratorium on a company, Amo underlined.

Father Amo also said that one of the NGOs' complaints about the companies' activities was that they had used fire to clear land. This accusation was brought because companies had clearly been burning land, which is forbidden by central government. It is a great shame if local government appears to be closing its eyes to this matter. Disregard from local government has already become systematic, meaning that even when the Bupati speaks about developments which would be positive for local people, it is not  guaranteed whether his technical staff will follow them up. NGOs make accusations about companies because human rights violations and environmental destruction have taken place in their concessions. If companies cared about human rights and the environment, then there is no way that NGOs would make such complaints.

A similar point was made by Inda Fatinaware, Executive Director of Sawit Watch, who said that community should not be misled by talk of moratoriums. The moratorium issued by the government was to call a temporary halt to new permits in primary natural forest. There is no relation whatsoever to the issue of smallholder schemes. Companies have to provide smallholdings for local people, this is obligatory and clearly stated in the 2014 Plantation Law (UU39/2014). Therefore there is no reason why a company shouldn't develop such a smallholder scheme.  What's more, a company such as Korindo, which has already been operating in Merauke and Boven Digoel for many years, should already have provided smallholdings for the community. The question should be what has the company been doing all this time, and why hasn't it still not developed community smallholding schemes? Don't use the moratorium as an excuse not to develop smallholding schemes.

Y.L. Franky, the Director of Yayasan Pusaka in Jakarta, wanted to take this opportunity to draw attention to the underlying problems facing indigenous people. According to Franky, the serious problems indigenous people have to face include the loss of their rights and sovereignty, a lack of participation in development to determine its direction, the loss of a sense of security and the limits on the right to free expression, and the loss of autonomy to develop productive economic enterprises based on the knowledge of local indigenous people.

This situation has occurred because the state has neglected to respect and protect indigenous Papuan's rights, which makes it impossible to achieve a good standard of community welfare and to uphold the law, as laid down in the constitution and subsequent laws, such as the Special Autonomy Law (articles 42 and 43), Franky explained.

In consideration of this situation, we believe the following actions are necessary:

  1. Local government must oversee investment activities to make sure they are legal, and do not violate the rights of indigenous people or destroy the environment.
  2. Local governments should issue policy and develop programmes which respect the rights of indigenous Papuans and protect the land which provides their livelihood.
  3. Local government should carry out an audit of all plantation companies present in the area, review any permits or contracts which violate indigenous people's basic rights or disadvantage indigenous people.
  4. We urge companies to respect the basic rights of indigenous Papuans, to avoid causing horizontal conflict within indigenous communities, not to use state security forces to protect their investment, to respect any community decisions not to surrender their lands and forests for business purposes, to protect important sites for the community and to provide adequate economic empowerment for the community and for company workers, without discrimination.

Contact Person

  1.     Pastor Anselmus Amo MSC, SKP KAMe Director (081287778974)
  2.     Mario, Sawit Watch (085228066649)
  3.     Y.L. Franky, Yayasan Pusaka (081317286019)

Activists in South Korea Rally Against Indonesian Rainforest Destruction by Korean Conglomerate POSCO Daewoo

Mighty Earth joined with The Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM), Korea’s largest environmental NGO, at a rally in Gwanghwamun North Square in Seoul, South Korea on Monday, July 31st, to demand that the Korean conglomerate POSCO Daewoo stop destroying Indonesian rainforest on its palm oil plantation in Papua.

Over a dozen activists participated in a street performance, in which they linked arms to defend the forest against a masked man holding a chainsaw representing POSCO Daewoo.  The activists held a banner that read, in both Korean and English, “POSCO Daewoo, Stop Destroying Indonesian Rainforest,” against a giant backdrop of palm oil-driven deforestation in Papua, Indonesia taken from Mighty Earth’s field investigation into Korindo and POSCO Daewoo in June 2016.

The rally followed a meeting between Mighty, KFEM and representatives from POSCO Daewoo that took place the previous business day.  At the meeting, Mighty and KFEM asked POSCO Daewoo to immediately stop their deforestation of pristine rainforest. POSCO Daewoo failed to make any specific commitments and instead said it needed to “study” the matter further despite several years of stakeholders urging an end to its deforestation.  

“POSCO Daewoo is trying to buy itself time to finish its forest clearing,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth.  “At the rate they are clearing, there will be no forest left by the time the company is done studying--and that’s surely their strategy.” Already, POSCO Daewoo’s bulldozers have cleared over 26,500 hectares of forest–half the size of Seoul, South Korea–in its 34,195 hectare concession.  What’s more, the pace of clearing has been accelerating; the company cleared 2,400 ha in the first four months of this year alone and over 10,000 ha since September 2015. Unconscionably, the international consulting firm PWC has given POSCO Daewoo’s deforestation a green stamp of approval. 

The land POSCO Daewoo is clearing to make way for its palm oil plantation, called PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA), is home to indigenous communities, as well as threatened and endangered species including tree kangaroos and birds of paradise.  According to BIA’s original business plans, obtained by Mighty, the entire area was covered by virgin rainforests prior to clearing.  The company estimated that it would make US$162 million just from selling the high value timber it cleared in the process of setting up the plantation.  The ancient rainforests being bulldozed by POSCO Daewoo are also incredibly carbon rich and essential to curbing global climate change.   

“Unfortunately, two Korean companies have established sprawling palm oil operations in Papua and are clearing forests at a vast scale,” said Ms. Lapidus to an assembled crowd of newspaper photographers and participants at Monday’s rally. “You might recall when we were here last year to expose Korindo’s forest destruction.  Right next to Korindo’s plantations is an immense zone of destruction that is owned by POSCO Daewoo, one of Korea’s premier companies. Despite the enormous ecological value of these areas, POSCO decided that it was happy to destroy them to create a giant monoculture plantation.  We are not seeing many companies act in such an egregious manner anymore but POSCO’s bulldozers are still operating.”  

Rally participants called on POSCO Daewoo to declare an immediate moratorium on all new forest clearing, to commit to a No Deforestation and No Exploitation policy aligned with the industry standard High Carbon Stock Approach, and to invest in restoration to repair its past damage.  

“POSCO Daewoo has done an incredible amount of damage in a short amount of time. It is undermining other companies’ progress on forest conservation and damaging its own brand and reputation around the world across its diverse businesses,” commented Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty Earth’s CEO, at the rally.  “All this deforestation is bad for its business.”

Just as POSCO Daewoo’s mill has become operational in the first quarter of 2017, the world’s largest palm oil buyers have stated they will exclude POSCO Daewoo and BIA’s palm oil from their supply chains because it violates their own No Deforestation and No Exploitation commitments.  

Investors are also pulling away from POSCO Daewoo over its deforestation.  The Norwegian Pension Fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, with more than $1 trillion in assets, commissioned an in-depth study into POSCO Daewoo’s activities, and found that the company’s practices were so egregious that they withdrew their investments in August 2015.  Hermes Investment has encouraged POSCO Daewoo to work with stakeholders to rapidly address this issue.  And POSCO Daewoo risks losing financing from several of its financial backers, including HSBC and BNP Paribas, which have both have announced No Deforestation financing policies.

Speaking at the rally, Choony Kim, Vice Executive Director of KFEM said, "Almost 7,700 hectares of tropical forests still remain on the site of POSCO Daewoo. In order for POSCO Daewoo to clean past mistakes and to compete fairly in the global market, it is necessary to immediately declare a moratorium on new land development in the remaining tropical forests. Also, efforts should be made to restore damaged forests and ecosystems.”


Mighty Earth and Olam Joint Statement Following Visit to Gabon

London, July 24, 2017 – Conservation NGO Mighty Earth and Olam International have completed a 5 day series of meetings and visits in Gabon as part of their agreement, announced in February 2017, to move forward on models for responsible agricultural development in highly forested countries.

Mighty Earth’s CEO Glenn Hurowitz and Olam’s Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Dr Christopher Stewart, participated in a series of intensive and constructive meetings with key decision-makers in the Gabon central and provincial governments, facilitated by Mighty’s local partner NGO Brainforest and by Olam Gabon, as well as a round-table of Gabonese NGOs belonging to the environmental and human rights civil society platform: “Gabon, Ma Terre, Mon Droit “ (Gabon, My Lands, My Rights).

Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth, said, “Thank you to Olam for organising an eye-opening, worthwhile, and inclusive visit to Gabon. We appreciated the opportunity to join Brainforest, WWF, TFT and other groups to see Olam’s Mouila plantations, conservation activities, and discuss sustainable development with local communities and government officials. The visit was a valuable input into our ongoing discussions with Olam and many other stakeholders around the world to refine an enduring conservation standard for high forest cover countries. In Mouila, we saw evidence that while there remain important issues to resolve, Olam has created jobs, and is taking efforts to protect those conservation areas it has set aside, and also working to resolve important community concerns. However, the visit also raises serious questions about whether large-scale plantation agriculture is a good model for heavily forested landscapes and other biodiverse, carbon rich ecosystems. We look forward to exploring this question further with Olam, the High Carbon Stock Approach group, other companies operating in Africa and elsewhere, and a range of environmental and community groups, including the upcoming Forest Dialogue in Gabon.”

Christopher Stewart, Olam’s Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, said “I would like to thank Glenn Hurowitz for visiting our palm plantations in Gabon, and for his positive and helpful contributions to the fundamentally important debates about responsible agriculture. It was also a rare and extremely valuable opportunity for us and the conservation NGOs to participate together in high-level political discussions on Gabon’s long term economic and land use strategy. I do not underestimate the evolving market demands and expectations surrounding sustainable agriculture in developing tropical countries like Gabon or the local challenges that are created by the development of our plantations and the GRAINE project. We are already looking to a series of further technical and policy discussions with the multi-stakeholder group and I expect that a mutually reciprocated spirit of openness and respectful dialogue will help us to converge on solutions, that serve both the urgent developmental needs of Gabon and the imperative to conserve its globally critical forest landscapes and wildlife for future generations.”

The meetings with senior officials included the Minister of Agriculture, the Parliamentary Sustainable Development Commission, the Secretary-General of the National Parks Agency, the Head of the National Climate Council, the Minister in Charge of Presidential Affairs, and the Director General of the Environment. The Ministers, parliamentarians and Agency Heads welcomed Mighty’s visit to Gabon and Olam’s proactive effort to understand and respond to their concerns, encouraging the local NGOs to embrace the challenges raised by the revitalisation of Gabon’s agricultural sector, and enter into monitoring partnerships with Olam.

Over the course of 2 days of substantive discussions, they also laid out the history of land and natural resource use in Gabon, the urgent and inevitable need to diversify Gabon’s economy away from fossil fuels, the social dangers of dependency on oil, Gabon’s significant (and regionally unmatched) commitments to long-term conservation of its forests and reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions, and the primary importance of agriculture (both large and small-scale) in Gabon’s National Strategic Plan. The tone of these meetings was both constructive and cordial, despite many differences of opinion that still need to be resolved.

Olam Gabon, Mighty Earth and its local partner Brainforest convened a round table including additional members of the “Ma Terre Mon Droit” platform, WWF Gabon, FENSED, IDRC Africa and Croissance Saine-Environnement. The key environmental and social impacts of plantation agriculture were debated at length and NGOS expressed both strong support for the social development benefits of export crop plantations, and strong reservations about the biodiversity and climate impacts, and potential human rights impacts, of large scale plantation agriculture as a basis for the renewal of Gabon’s rural economy. NGOs demanded transparency and better participation in decision-making, as well as capacity building initiatives, strengthening partnerships for monitoring the plantation impacts and improving local livelihoods.

Olam’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability team agreed on these points and the need to continually improve its outreach processes, including communicating technical documentation in a way that is more accessible to all stakeholders. Olam also set out the many opportunities for NGO involvement that are in place, not least the systematic local and national consultation processes on social and environmental impacts, open-access publications on all its plantation operations, the joint elaboration with national NGOs of the Gabonese RSPO National Standard, and its national-scale GRAINE support programme for cooperative farming, in which most of the NGOs present had played a framing role.

A large NGO delegation including Mighty, The Forest Trust (TFT), and local NGOs Brainforest, WWF-Gabon, FENSED, and Muyissi Environnement also spent 2 days visiting Olam’s palm oil plantations and the landscape and communities of Ngounie Province, southern Gabon. They were given an overview of the plantation operations and progress to date by the General Manager of Olam Palm Gabon, and visited operations including the planting area, mechanically assisted harvesting teams, an innovative drip fertigation project, and the 90-tonne Mouila Mill, which was inaugurated in 2016. They also visited a small part of the 18,000 ha conservation set-aside within Lot 1, and learned about Olam’s environmental action plan since 2013 to restore the logged forests of the set-asides, including prevention and monitoring of illegal logging and hunting of protected species (both of which are a continuing threat to forests and wildlife in this area).

A highlight of the field visit was the exploration of Olam Palm Gabon’s Mouila Lot 3, where Olam has established a 14,000 ha savannah plantation compliant with the requirements RSPO’s New Plantings Procedures, on a strict zero-deforestation basis . This also includes the first High Conservation Value savannah ecosystem mosaic under active management in the RSPO system, and Olam’s pioneering research in this under-appreciated ecosystem (in partnership with Missouri Botanical Gardens) has already laid the groundwork for a new National Park in the area, under the leadership of the National Parks Agency.

The NGO delegation also held village meetings in 3 villages chosen and organised by Brainforest, which are among a total of 87 villages which have Free Prior and Informed Consent procedures and Social Contracts with Olam. The villagers expressed themselves without reservation on both positive and negative social impacts of the plantation developments: on the one hand they largely welcomed the employment opportunities and investment in social infrastructure provided by Olam, whilst expressing their strong need for better access to essential services including schooling, healthcare, clean water provision, electrification, building materials and opportunities for promotion within the Olam structure.

A recurring theme was the concern on the impact of plantations on natural streams and lakes, which are a key source of water – villages in this region suffer from annual water shortages in the dry season as seasonal streams and artesian wells dry up. The NGO delegation urged Olam to act on these concerns and provide better solutions for water provision, more transparency in its water quality monitoring process, and rehabilitation in the case of accidental damage to natural water bodies. However, they were satisfied to observe that Olam’s social team has strong connections to the villages and has previously addressed and documented both the grievances expressed and the solutions proposed. Olam agreed immediately to investigate renewed concerns expressed in the village of Ferra relative to the Rembo river, a key dry-season drinking water source, which villagers feared might be impacted by a nursery upstream from their village.


For more information on the investigation into Olam’s plantations and the issues related to industrial agriculture at large, check out this article by Mighty Earth’s Glenn Hurowitz.

 

 


POSCO Daewoo palm oil concession

France announces new five-year climate plan that puts end to “imported deforestation” of products like palm oil and soy

Last week, Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot laid out France’s new “climate plan” which includes greater efforts to protect the world’s tropical rainforests in the Amazon, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Hulot noted that the climate plan intends to put an end to “imported deforestation.”

The French government's commitment to end the importation of products like palm and soy linked to deforestation is hopeful. Especially now with this action, France is leading the way in supporting zero-deforestation commodity production. "This is a new step toward a full implementation of the Paris agreement,” said Sebastien Mabile, Lawyer at the Paris Bar leading Mighty's campaign against deforestation in France. “It's a major change for the food industry supply chain."

Mighty is encouraged by the recent news, which sends a clear message that rainforest destruction is not acceptable.

“Companies have shown that it is possible to produce agricultural products without deforesting,” said Etelle Higonnet, Legal and Campaign Director at Mighty. “The Brazilian Soy Moratorium reduced deforestation caused by soy from nearly 30% of new soy expansion in the Brazilian Amazon to less than 1% in just three years.  Now, it is important these solutions are implemented in other parts of Latin America and in places like South East Asia and West and Central Africa, to ensure economic development is truly sustainable and equitable, and that benefits local communities and protects the world’s remaining tropical forests.”

France’s new plan, intended to meet the ambitious targets of the Paris climate accord and make the country carbon neutral by 2050, also includes stopping the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040 and coal produced electricity by 2022. The announcement comes months after France adopted “le Devoir De Vigilance” law in February 2017. The new law establishes obligations toward large companies to prevent serious violations of human rights and environmental damages, with the aim of restoring respect for human and ecological rights by multinational corporations.


Samsung partnership with Korindo ignites another fire scandal

Banner Photo Credit: Business Korea
Smoke rising from burning wood rows on a palm oil plantation owned by Korindo, Samsung’s joint venture partner ©Ardiles Rante/Greenpeace; 26 March 2013

Samsung’s phones are not the only thing in their business catching on fire.  Samsung IT subsidiary, Samsung SDS, announced on June 19 that it has entered into a partnership with the notorious forest destroyer, Korindo Group, to form a joint venture in the logistics sector in Indonesia.

As we documented in our Burning Paradise report, Korean-Indonesian agribusiness Korindo has cleared 30,000 hectares of rainforest and had nearly 900 fire hotspots on its palm oil concessions in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia since 2013. We also found that Korindo has taken land from indigenous communities without their consent. Yet, just as Korindo has been losing more and more major global customers over its bad track record and is now being investigated by the Forest Stewardship Council, Samsung decided to proudly announce a new partnership with the company.

Samsung is no stranger to these types of allegations itself.  A report released in December 2016 by a group of Korean human rights lawyers called Korean Transnational Corporations Watch (KTNC Watch) documents deplorable human rights violations that they observed on their field investigation to Samsung palm oil plantations in Riau province of Sumatra, Indonesia.  The Samsung plantation companies are called PT Inecda and PT Gandaerah, and are part of a joint venture with the Indonesian Ganda Group.  Ganda Group has a well documented history of human rights abuses, including coming under scrutiny in 2013 for forcibly evicting villagers from their homes and destroying them.

The report describes how the indigenous communities who have lived on this land for centuries have seen it snatched by Samsung’s plantations, with important ancestral and cultural sites taken over by the plantation. The company has diverted the rivers to irrigate the palm oil plantation, leaving the rest of the surrounding area with a severe water shortage. In addition, the pesticides and other toxic chemicals used on the plantation are polluting the waterways.  Local communities can no longer get the clean water they need to drink, clean, or wash. The plantations are also resulting in a major loss of biodiversity, which threatens the food and livelihood of the indigenous communities. Samsung has been found offering bribes to discourage efforts to claim communal rights to the land, paying certain community members to spy on their neighbors and report back.

A former well site near the plantation dormitories, now abandoned because the water dried up.
Photo Credit: Advocates for Public Interest Law

The report also documents extensive human rights violations of workers on Samsung’s plantations. There are frequent instances of child labor identified on the plantations and many workers report bringing their children or spouses to work to help them meet the high daily quotas set by Samsung. Workers are expected to handle toxic chemicals and work in a setting with inadequate safety conditions. There are no formal contracts, very low wages, high daily quotas, and long hours. Workers that live on the plantations are also subject to very poor, unhealthy living conditions.

An elementary school child is taking a break on top of heavy equipment while working with his father at the PT Ghandaera plantation, picking, bagging, and moving grains of palm oil fruits (November 12, 2016). Photo Credit: Advocates for Public Interest Law

 

Worker’s housing inside the Samsung plantation. Photo Credit: Advocates for Public Interest Law

Given the unsavory operations of both Korindo and Samsung in Indonesia, it is no surprise that these companies would see eye to eye on how to conduct business in the country.  But just as this new partnership brings new opportunities for growth to both companies, it also brings new opportunities for Samsung’s millions of consumers around the globe to take action to end both companies’ abuses in Indonesia.

Samsung can’t afford another PR nightmare right now, as it’s working to build back its reputation following the recall of 2.5 million phones and as its Vice Chairman is on trial for massive corruption scandals in South Korea. The last thing Samsung needs is to be caught up in a scandal over forest destruction and species extinction. If enough Samsung customers take action, we can convince them to drop the partnership with Korindo, sending a clear message to Korindo that forest destruction is bad for business.


Mighty Published in New Journal on Key Environmental Issues in Asia, EnviroLab Asia

Deborah Lapidus, Campaigns Director at Mighty, contributes foreword on solutions to palm oil production and expansion in Southeast Asia in the scholarly journal, EnviroLab Asia. The inaugural volume explores environmental and social impacts of the rampant growth of the palm oil industry and explores new perspectives on indigenous resistance.

Ms. Lapidus’ foreword discusses the public and environmental health issues stemming from irresponsible oil-palm production, describes the No Deforestation revolution afoot in global commodity agriculture, and lays out a vision for where the industry needs to go next. “One of our key goals is to eliminate the global market for deforestation-based palm oil and we work with many allies around the world who are committed to this same objective,” Ms. Lapidus notes.

EnviroLab Asia, a laboratory launched by the Claremont Colleges in 2015, fosters interdisciplinary knowledge and presents innovative solutions to environmental problems. The academic publication employs both environmental and social lenses to offer insight into globalization in Singapore and Malaysian Borneo. Holistic in approach, the publications subsequent academic chapters and first-person reflections illustrate EnviroLab Asia’s dedication to diverse forms of intellectual engagement.

Mighty is excited to contribute to the inaugural volume of EnviroLab Asia, and to continue to be a part of growing synergies between academics, students and NGO’s around the world working to solve the deforestation challenge.


Buyers Beware: POSCO Daewoo’s Deforestation Palm Oil is Ready for International Markets  —  But Global Buyers are Rejecting it

Buyers Beware: POSCO Daewoo’s Deforestation Palm Oil is Ready for International Markets  —  But Global Buyers are Rejecting it

POSCO Daewoo, self-described as Korea’s largest trading company, operates a 34,195 hectare palm oil plantation located in the Ulilin district in Merauke, Papua, Indonesia called PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA). PT BIA just released its first “Environmental and Social Report” for 2016. The report reveals that the company’s mill is becoming operational in the first quarter of 2017, which means the palm oil grown on top of the 26,500 hectares of rainforests the company has destroyed over the past five years is about to reach international markets.

Recent satellite imagery shows that POSCO Daewoo’s palm oil company in Papua, Indonesia, PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA), destroyed around 9,900 hectares of forest between September 2015 and April 2017 (the area outlined in red), 2,400 ha of which were cleared just in the first four months of 2017. In total, since 2012, BIA has leveled 26,500 ha of mostly primary rainforest.

Satellite imagery (above) shows that in the same timeframe that the majority of the palm oil industry was racing to clean up their supply chains, POSCO Daewoo was racing to clear forest as fast as possible. PT BIA has cleared an astonishing 9,900 hectares of forest between September 2015 and April 2017, 2,400 of which occurred just in the first four months of 2017.

Any purchase from POSCO Daewoo would violate No Deforestation policies followed by major palm oil buyers around the world. It would also violate companies’ commitments to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) because the forest cleared was mostly primary forest that is habitat for endangered species, containing High Conservation Values (HCV’s). Indeed, maps from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry reveal that 15,800 ha of BIA—nearly half the concession area—are covered by primary forest. This is corroborated by PT BIA’s original business plans, obtained by Mighty Earth, in which the company states that “most of the area is still covered by virgin tropical rain forest.” (See below.)

Mighty Earth reached out to international buyers of palm oil across the supply chain as well as investors to find out who is buying from or financing POSCO Daewoo or BIA. Out of nearly 50 responses from major traders and consumer companies, none were currently sourcing from POSCO Daewoo and/or BIA.  Over 20 companies explicitly said they would exclude POSCO Daewoo and BIA from their supply chains or investment portfolios until such time as they could comply with their policies, and several more responded that their responsible sourcing policies would preclude them from sourcing from BIA. For the full list of companies we reached out to and their responses, see here.  

Given that BIA’s mill is scheduled to become operational Q1 2017, it’s possible it hasn’t begun selling its palm oil yet. It’s also possible, and likely, that BIA sells to its neighbor and fellow forest destroyer, Korindo, and/or other rogue buyers willing to turn a blind eye to deforestation.  However, the responses make clear that the global marketplace is rejecting the palm oil grown on BIA’s destroyed rainforest.  

BIA’s Environmental and Social report contains a chart showing the results of a biodiversity assessment which found a number of IUCN-listed endangered species as being present in the area of its concession, including the adorable tree kangaroo and colorful birds of paradise. (The species are listed in the report on page 29 in Bahasa Indonesia. Click here to see the English translations.) Unfortunately, BIA’s biodiversity assessment was determined to be “unsatisfactory” by the HCV Resource Network’s quality review panel.

POSCO Daewoo lacks a commitment to No Deforestation, which means it is continuing to destroy the habitat these species need to survive. Notably, PT BIA’s concessions are adjacent to the Korean-Indonesian agribusiness Korindo’s Papua palm oil concessions, demonstrating that Korindo was being dishonest when it denied the presence of tree kangaroos in the area of its plantations in response to Mighty Earth’s Burning Paradise report, which exposed massive deforestation and illegal burning of intact rainforests for palm oil production by both Korindo and POSCO Daewoo’s PT BIA.

Tree Kangaroo, threatened by habitat loss from palm oil, timber, and other agribusiness. © Mighty; 13 June 2016.

PT BIA has long been the subject of significant global controversy due to its egregious deforestation of primary tropical rainforests in Papua, Indonesia, an area with the largest remaining intact forest landscapes left in Indonesia and home to over 80% of Indonesia’s biodiversity. Last September, Mighty Earth worked with the research consultancy Aidenvironment to do a sustainability assessment of PT BIA. In its analysis, Aidenvironment found that since 2012 BIA deforested more than 19,000 hectares and was continuing to clear at a rapid pace—having cleared 3,300 ha in just an eight month period leading up to the report release. Moreover, the satellite images showed a clear pattern of fire hotspots following deforestation, demonstrating that BIA was using fire systemically to clear land. In September and October 2015 alone, 158 fire hotspots were recorded, concentrated in the area that was deforested earlier that year. Mighty Earth also conducted a field investigation and documented BIA’s immense deforestation through drone video and photographs.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Pension Fund, announced on August 17, 2015 its decision to exclude POSCO Daewoo because it represented an “unacceptable risk of severe environmental damage”. Greenpeace also exposed HSBC’s financing of BIA in its recent report, “Dirty Bankers” which led to HSBC announcing a No Deforestation financing policy. Greenpeace has called for HSBC to act on BIA as a first “test case” of its new commitment.

This will also be a first test case for BNP Paribas, which just announced a new responsible palm oil financing policy and has a commercial relationship with POSCO Daewoo.  They are engaging with them currently, but if POSCO Daewoo doesn’t immediately put a moratorium on forest clearing, they should exit the relationship.

POSCO Daewoo’s PT BIA palm oil concession. © Mighty; 5 June 2016.

PT BIA’s Business Plans Reveal the Company’s Intent to Deforest Vast Areas

Mighty Earth obtained PT BIA’s original business plans, which reveal the forested characteristics of the land area at PT BIA, the land clearing schedule and profit potential, and a photo-diagram showing the palm oil production process starting with deforestation.  Here are some of the most compelling excerpts:

Introduction describing the state of play with Indonesia’s palm oil biofuel production plans, in the context of evaluating the opportunity for BIA’s palm oil to be sold into the biofuel market:

“One obvious controversial aspect of the master plan is the need for vast new land banks for plantation expansion, which some environmental groups say is accelerating already rapid deforestation. Indonesia currently has an estimated 5.5 million hectares of palm oil plantations, and the government now plans to more than double the total area under cultivation through the development of another 6.1 million hectares in Kalimantan, Papua and other provinces.”

Section describing the physical characteristics of the land area of BIA:

 “Most of the area is still covered by virgin tropical rain forest.”

Business plan documents:

Left: photo diagram from BIA’s business plan showing the palm oil production process beginning with deforestation.

Right: excerpt from PT BIA’s business plan. This is a translation of an article boasting about investors cashing in on the bountiful natural resources of Papua.

Featured photo from Richard Ashurst


Finally, Real Action from Big Banks on Deforestation

This month BNP Paribas, the world’s seventh-largest financial institution, announced a new palm oil policy that sets responsible palm oil production as a pre-condition for financing. The policy requires that companies receiving financing protect forests and indigenous people. It also requires companies to adhere to strict human rights and labor standards, end the use of hazardous pesticides, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other significant measures.

 

This policy is a breakthrough in forest-friendly finance. For far too long the finance sector has significantly lagged behind the trend toward responsible commodity agriculture, enabling company expansion into forests even when the marketplace is rejecting the practice. This has given rogue producers like Korindo hope that they can develop their own infrastructure to refine and export their deforestation commodities and circumvent “No Deforestation” supply chains. BNP Paribas’ new policy charts a new path for responsible financing that all major financial institutions should follow - or else face the growing consumer backlash against environmentally destructive institutions.

 

BNP’s policy comes at a time when a growing number of financial institutions are coming under scrutiny for financing destructive agribusiness operations.  Just last week, Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN)  released a report exposing the Nordic banks and government pension funds linked to the six major banks financing Indonesia’s palm oil deforestation.  (Already one of the banks profiled in RFN’s report, the Singaporean DBS Bank, announced a Responsible Financing policy that requires new lending in the palm oil sector to adhere to No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation requirements.)  Over the past few months alone, Greenpeace launched a campaign on HSBC that led to the bank announcing a No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation palm oil finance policy. Rainforest Action Network launched a “Forests and Finance” campaign exposing the banks and investors behind Southeast Asia’s deforestation. And Friends of the Earth created a new tool called Deforestation Free Funds, which shows the global mutual funds that contain palm oil related holdings, while launching a campaign on the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) regarding its high risk land holdings and palm oil investments.

 

But financial institutions aren’t only worried about being the target of a public campaign.  They are also beginning to respond to the reality that investing in deforestation is risky business.  Increasingly, companies that are caught destroying forests and abusing workers are shut out of international markets. In some cases, their stock prices plummet. For example, last year our team worked with allies to successfully persuade two dozen of the world’s largest palm oil buyers, including Unilever, Nestle, Kellogg, biofuels giant Neste Oil, and Dunkin’ Donuts, to suspend purchases from the Malaysian palm oil company IOI after the company breached its No Deforestation policy and was suspended by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Its share price dropped almost 15% in the month following the suspension, representing a $4 billion decline in value. IOI has since made important moves to address these issues and return to being a responsible provider of palm oil; we’re continuing to monitor those efforts, but it’s clear that sustainability is now a market mover.  Deforestation—once seen by agribusiness titans and their financiers as a cheap and easy way to make huge profits—is increasingly becoming a major business liability. More and more banks don’t want to do deals with companies pursuing outdated and high-risk business models.

 

BNP Paribas has firmly set a new benchmark for responsible financing in the palm oil sector, one that must be met with decisive action. Both BNP Paribas and HSBC have a first clear test case of their new policies: South Korean industrial giant POSCO Daewoo, which owns a palm oil company called PT Bio Inti Agrindo (BIA) that has a 340 square kilometer plantation in Papua, Indonesia.  Satellite imagery (see here) shows that POSCO Daewoo’s BIA has cleared an astonishing 99 square kilometers of forest between September 2015 and April 2017, a quarter of which (24 square kilometers ) occurred in the first four months of 2017 alone.

 

Research by Greenpeace showed that in the past five years, 13 banks – including HSBC, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered – have been involved in providing POSCO Daewoo and its subsidiaries with loans totaling nearly $3.6 billion and bonds totaling over $5 billion. BNP Paribas told Mighty Earth it is engaging with POSCO Daewoo to express concerns about this deforestation. However, if POSCO Daewoo is not willing to implement an immediate moratorium on forest clearing and restore the damage it has done, it is not engaging in good faith and BNP should terminate its commercial ties with the company immediately.

 

If the deforestation dominos continue to fall in the financial sector, this could be a key turning point in the fight to save Southeast Asia’s remaining forests. Simply put, if companies can’t find the financing they need to keep cutting down the trees, they will have to turn to a more responsible path.  We must seize the moment. Now is the time for all of us to be demanding that our financial institutions follow the model set by BNP Paribas by enacting no-deforestation forest conservation and human rights policies.


Forest Stewardship Council Accepts Mighty Earth’s Formal Complaint Against Korindo

Extensive deforestation breaches FSC policy, Company should no longer be able to sell certified timber and paper

UPDATE- June 2, 2017: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) notified Mighty Earth that our complaint against agribusiness Korindo was officially accepted for investigation. Their acceptance note stated, “With this email we would like to inform you that, after an internal assessment of the complaint submission (including the additional information provided and the related investigation report “Burning Paradise”), FSC International has decided to accept the PfA complaint filed by Mighty against the Korindo group.”

BONN, Germany, May 15, 2017-- Mighty Earth has submitted a complaint today to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a global sustainable forestry certification body, regarding agribusiness Korindo’s deforestation activities. The complaint presents compelling evidence confirming that since 2013 Korindo’s oil palm companies have been responsible for clearing over 30,000 hectares (ha) of Indonesian rainforests in Papua and North Maluku.

Under the ‘Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC’ (1), companies are prohibited from clearing more than 10,000 hectares of forests over the past five-years across their operations. The FSC policy aims to prevent its certificate holders from conducting such ‘unacceptable forest-related activities [which are] ‘harmful to FSC’s reputation’.

The FSC policy also prohibits clearing areas classified as High Conservation Value Forests, such as primary forests. Korindo oil palm companies have cleared at least 11,700 ha of primary forests since 2013. In addition, it requires Korindo companies to “uphold the legal and customary rights of local communities,” which the group is failing to do on its operations in North Maluku and parts of Papua. To see the full complaint, click here.

“Korindo has not earned the good reputation that comes along with holding FSC certification and has violated the trust of its wood products customers who believed that the certification brought assurances of sustainability,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director with Mighty Earth. “We call on the FSC to fully investigate Korindo’s violations of the Policy for Association, and take steps to terminate Korindo’s FSC certificates until it strictly complies with its standards.”

As a result of the complaint, four of Korindo’s forest products companies located in Indonesia (PT. Korintiga Hutani, PT. Aspex Kumbong, PT. Korindo Abadi Asike, and PT. Korindo Ariabima Sari), stand to have their FSC certificates revoked. This could put some of Korindo’s timber trade in jeopardy from suspension by buyers seeking FSC-certified products. For example, Korindo’s pulpwood buyers include the Japanese companies Oji Holdings (also Korindo’s Korintiga Hutani joint venture partner) and Marubeni Corporation. A coalition of Japanese organizations is working to ensure that only FSC certified wood is used in the construction of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo—a standard that should preclude Korindo’s products from being accepted in light of this complaint. Korindo also sells plywood to the Dubai-based Transcontinental Identing company.

The complaint follows several months of work by Mighty Earth and a coalition of allied organizations in Indonesia, South Korea, and across the Globe, following the September 2016 release of a report entitled Burning Paradise (2), which documented through satellite analysis and field investigation Korindo’s deforestation of 30,000 ha and over 900 fire hotspots since 2013 on its palm oil plantations in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia.  In response to global media exposure and pressure from its customers, Korindo announced a moratorium on forest clearing on December 1st, 2016, but then quickly breached this commitment throughout January and February 2017 by carving roads over 3,100 ha of forest and clearing 1,000 ha at its PT Papua Agro Lestari oil palm concession in Papua.  Despite reinstating the moratorium and agreeing to submit its sustainability assessments for independent quality review, Korindo has yet to provide the data needed for the reviews to commence and has failed to adopt a comprehensive Group-wide policy to implement zero deforestation and protect human rights.

“Until Korindo can delink its operations from deforestation and land rights violations, it should not be able to get away with carrying a green FSC label on its products,” said Ms. Lapidus. “Korindo’s slogan, ‘Green Tomorrow’, says it all. For the FSC to maintain its credibility, it needs to require Korindo to clean up its operations today, not tomorrow.”

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights.  Mighty Earth’s global team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at https://www.mightyearth.org/.

Notes to Editor:

  • The ‘Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC’ is available here.
  • Mighty’s report on Korindo’s palm oil activities is available here.

Cargill and Bunge face escalating pressure to clean up supply chain

In the wake of Mighty Earth’s Ultimate Mystery Meat report, soy traders Bunge and Cargill are facing escalating pressure for supply chain reform from their customers, investors, and the public around the globe. In the investigation, Mighty Earth uncovered Bunge and Cargill driving massive deforestation across South America.

Bunge and Cargill, as well as other leading soy traders, are meeting in New York City on Tuesday to decide their response.

Leading up to the meeting, a growing coalition is demanding that these companies extend the highly successful Brazilian Amazon Soy Moratorium - an agreement to stop selling soy grown on newly deforested land that effectively eliminated soy deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon - to other ecosystems like the Bolivian Amazon Basin, Paraguay’s Chaco, and Brazil’s Cerrado, where deforestation is still occurring at a terrific pace.

Major global companies like McDonald’s, Walmart, and Carrefour, along with Bunge and Cargill competitors ADM, Louis Dreyfus, and Wilmar, are joining with investors representing more than half a trillion in assets under management and the Brazilian Environment Minister to support this extension of the Soy Moratorium.

Instead of taking action, an increasingly isolated Cargill and Bunge are attempting to downplay their responsibility in this landscape destruction. Bunge has argued that it is only 20% of the soy market in the areas it operates silos in the Brazilian Cerrado- which makes it the biggest player in the region. Cargill has taken the same route and is asserting that it is only around 10% of the Bolivian soy market. Both companies’ responses confirm that they are leading traders in these countries, meaning their policies and operations have a major impact on the region.

Cargill and Bunge only need to look to the nearby Brazilian Amazon for a successful example of a path to eliminating environmental destruction while still expanding production and increasing profit. There are over 500 million acres of land that are already cleared across Latin America and these companies have more than ample opportunity to grow without clearing another acre of native habitat. They’ve succeeded before- they can do it again.


Indonesia’s second largest palm oil producer fails to deliver on its sustainability policy

NGOs deem Astra Agro Lestari’s implementation of sustainability policy far too slow; question the company’s intentions to fully adhere to its commitments

Jakarta, Indonesia., February 27, 2017—Astra Agro Lestari, Indonesia’s second largest palm oil company, has failed to address several key gaps in implementing its sustainability policy that were identified in an assessment by several Indonesian and international NGOs last September. The NGOs—Rainforest Foundation Norway, Mighty, KKI Warsi, Yayasan Merah Putih Palu (YMP), and SumOfUs—sent Astra a letter last Thursday asking for a swift response to these gaps and other critical remaining questions.  Astra already missed a December 5th deadline for providing this information which was originally requested in a letter dated September 26th. Soon after, Astra did reply asking for another meeting with the NGOs. While appreciating the answer, the NGOs are not satisfied.

“We want to see a detailed implementation plan and adherence to deadlines. There’s been enough talk, now we want to see real action,” said Anja Lillegraven, Head of the Asia and Oceania Department of Rainforest Foundation Norway. “Astra’s failure to implement its own policy is unacceptable and demonstrates that nice policies are not enough.”

Astra’s sustainability policy was announced in September 2015, following a major campaign that included the release of a report documenting massive deforestation and human rights violations within Astra’s concessions.  The campaign also invovled grassroots actions around the world aimed at Astra’s owner, the large conglomerate Jardines Matheson, and their luxury hotel chain, the Mandarin Oriental.

Astra’s failure to implement key aspects of the policy is reflected in these quotes from key NGO stakeholders:

  • “Astra’s attempts at resolving conflicts and compensating human rights violations, as pledged in the policy, are far from satisfactory,” said Diki Kurniawan, Director of KKI Warsi, an Indonesian NGO that advocates for the rights for the Orang Rimba. “Members of the Orang Rimba indigenous group in Jambi Province are still living on the edge of starvation after they lost their land to Astra’s palm oil plantation.”
  • “As the dry season is fast approaching, we fear that Astra lacks good systems for preventing fires,” said Fatah Sadaoui, Palm Oil Senior Campaigner, SumOfUs.
  • “We question the intentions of Astra. No detailed implementation plan has been provided, indicating that Astra is not allocating sufficient resources into its sustainability work,” said Anja Lillegraven, Head of the Asia and Oceania Department of Rainforest Foundation Norway.
  • “Astra has not published quarterly updates on the implementation of its sustainability policy, as pledged,” said Amran Tambaru, Director of Yayasan Merah Putih Palu, an Indonesian NGO that advocates for indigenous rights.
  • “While Astra has curtailed deforestation on its own concessions, it has failed to demonstrate that it has adequately addressed high risk third-party suppliers like PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya (PT ANJ) which was recently caught deforesting at a large scale in Papua,” said Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty. “We strongly recommend Astra’s owners and investors to seriously consider the reputational risk represented by links to Astra.”

“The time for delay and excuses is over. This is a final warning to Astra that we demand to see real action,” said Ms. Lillegraven.

CONTACT:

Marisa Bellantonio, Mighty
203-479-2026
[email protected]

Anja Lillegraven, Rainforest Foundation Norway
[email protected]

Featured image © Aidenvironment (drone photo), 6 September 2016, coordinates: S 0°49'4.30"; E 111°28'24.13"


Olam et Mighty Earth se mettent d’accord pour collaborer dans le domaine de la protection forestière

Olam et Mighty Earth se mettent d’accord pour collaborer dans le domaine de la protection forestière

English

Olam et Mighty Earth se mettent d’accord pour collaborer dans le domaine de la protection forestière et de l’agriculture durable dans les pays possédant une grande couverture forestière.

Washington D.C., 22 février 2017 – À la suite du rapport de Mighty Earth en 2016 La boîte noire du commerce de l’huile de palme, Mighty Earth et Olam se sont rencontrés à Washington D.C. et sont parvenus à un accord pour avancer vers deux impératifs :  permettre la mise en place de modèles de développement agricole responsables qui soutiennent la protection des forêts tout en luttant pour le développement durable au Gabon et dans d’autres pays possédant une grande couverture forestière ; ainsi que la nécessité pour les commerçants d’huile de palme de développer un plateforme d’action collective pour éviter la déforestation et l’exploitation des travailleurs ou des communautés.

La réunion fut organisée pour discuter d’une part de l’impact des plantations de palmiers à huile et de caoutchouc d’Olam avec son partenaire commercial notamment la République du Gabon, et de l’autre les fournisseurs tiers d’Olam en huile de palme surtout en Asie du Sud-Est. Le World Ressources Institute animait la réunion.

Suite à ceci, Olam accepte de :

  • Suspendre la déforestation au Gabon pour le palmier à huile et le caoutchouc pendant un an (une période qui peut être prolongée). Pendant ce temps, Mighty Earth et Olam se sont mis d’accord pour soutenir et suivre le processus multipartite en cours, qui cherche à développer des critères spécifiques de développement agricole responsable dans les pays possédant une grande couverture forestière.
  • Continuer de mettre en œuvre ses programmes – dans des délais donnés – pour cartographier sa chaine d’approvisionnement en Asie et divulguer davantage d’informations la concernant, tout en exigeant de la part de ses fournisseurs tiers d’adhérer à la High Carbon Stock Approach (décrite sur le site highcarbonstock.org), conformément à sa nouvelle politique concernant l’huile de palme.
  • De publier ses procédures pour supprimer les risques de la chaine d’approvisionnement, cela comprenant le contrôle indépendant de la conformité des fournisseurs à haut risque.
  • De fournir une procédure révisée de règlement des différends qui inclut ses fournisseurs tiers d’huile de palme, et de protéger l’anonymat de ceux fournissant des informations. Olam continuera d’enquêter quotidiennement et d’œuvrer pour répondre à toute plainte émise par les communautés locales et autochtones.
  • Rajouter à sa politique actuelle de développement durable des références explicites concernant la protection des tourbières, et l’assurance de ne pas exploiter les travailleurs ou les communautés locales.

Mighty Earth accepte de :

  • Suspendre sa campagne actuelle contre les opérations d’huile de palme et de caoutchouc d’Olam, y compris sa plainte contre Olam auprès du FSC, pendant un an (période qui peut être prolongée).
  • Collaborer avec le gouvernement gabonais, la société civile, des experts internationaux et des actionnaires pour contribuer à une protection et un développement responsables.
  • Dans un esprit de dialogue et de compréhension mutuelle croissante, Olam et Mighty Earth ont conjointement accepté de participer à des évènements organisés par les parties prenantes telles que des organisations de la société civile et du gouvernement du Gabon, d’encourager et d’appuyer le groupe de travail du High Carbon Stock Approach afin d’élaborer des recommandations claires au sujet d’un développement responsable dans les pays possédant une grande couverture forestière, et enfin d’explorer davantage les initiatives autour de la conservation et la restauration.

Le co-fondateur et directeur général d’Olam, Sunny Verghese, a déclaré : « Olam reste engagé dans les bonnes pratiques de protection forestière, de développement agricole durable, de réduction de la pauvreté et de création d’emplois », tout en ajoutant : « Nous espérons que ces actions puissent aider les pays souverains comme le Gabon à tracer leur propre chemin vers le développement durable. »

« Mighty Earth célèbre l’opportunité d’aider le Gabon à se développer de manière responsable et de fournir un modèle de protection pour les pays possédant une grande couverture forestière », déclara le président de Mighty Earth et ancien congressiste, Henry Waxman. « Bien que cet accord s’applique à l’huile de palme et au caoutchouc, nous espérons que cela crée un mouvement favorable pour les autres matières premières. Le World Resources Institute a fourni une aide importante dans la conclusion de cet accord en facilitant cette négociation et en favorisant un dialogue constructif pour promouvoir plus largement un développement respectueux des forêts. »

Le président et directeur général du World Resources Institute, Andrew Steer, fit remarquer : « Concilier la protection de la forêt avec de nouveaux projets agricoles peut être un grand défi ; il est vital pour les pays, les entreprises et la société civile de travailler ensemble et de trouver un terrain d’entente. Cet accord est un bon exemple de la manière avec laquelle des organisations peuvent s’unir pour se mettre d’accord sur un chemin d’avenir prospère et durable. »

Pour plus d’information, merci de contacter :

Mighty Earth : Etelle Higonnet, Directrice de campagnes, [email protected], +1-202-848-7792

Olam : Nikki Barber, Directeur général, [email protected], +44 207 484 8994 ; +44 7568 108555

À propos de Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth est une organisation qui réalise des campagnes environnementales à l’échelle mondiale dans le but de protéger les forêts, de conserver les océans et de lutter contre le changement climatique. Nous travaillons en Afrique, en Asie du Sud-Est, en Amérique latine et en Amérique du Nord pour mener des actions à grande échelle en faveur d’une agriculture responsable qui respecte les écosystèmes naturels, la vie sauvage, l’eau et les droits des communautés locales. L’équipe mondiale de Mighty Earth a joué un rôle décisif en persuadant la plus grande entreprise alimentaire et agricole du monde d’améliorer drastiquement sa politique et ses pratiques environnementales et sociales.  Vous trouverez plus d’information au sujet de Mighty Earth sur https://www.mightyearth.org/

À propos de Olam International Limited

Olam International est un leader de l’agro-business qui intervient tout au long de la chaine de valeur dans 70 pays, fournissant des produits variés par le biais de ses 16 usines à plus de 16 200 consommateurs à travers le monde. Grâce à un approvisionnement direct et une activité de transformation présente dans la plupart des grands pays producteurs, Olam a construit un leadership mondial dans beaucoup de ses activités. Son siège se trouve à Singapour et l’entreprise est cotée à la bourse de Singapour depuis le 11 février 2005. Olam est actuellement classée parmi les 50 plus grandes entreprises de Singapour en termes de capitalisation.  En 2016, le magazine Fortune a classé Olam à la 23e place dans sa liste « Change the World ».  Vous trouverez plus d’information au sujet d’Olam sur www.olamgroup.com.

À propos du World Resources Institute

Le WRI est une organisation de recherche mondiale qui recouvre plus de 50 pays avec des bureaux aux USA, en Chine, en Inde, au Brésil, en Indonésie et davantage. Notre équipe de plus de 450 experts et employés travaillent étroitement avec les leaders pour mettre en action les grandes idées au service de la préservation des ressources naturelles qui constituent la base même des opportunités économiques et du bien-être des êtres humains.  Notre travail se concentre sur six problèmes critiques situés à la croisée de l’environnement et du développement : le climat, l’énergie, l’alimentation, les forêts, l’eau, les villes et le transport.  Vous trouverez plus d’information au sujet du World Resources Institute sur www.wri.org.


Mighty’s Agreement with World’s Largest Farmer Could Have Major Implications for the World’s Forests

By Glenn Hurowitz

Mighty Earth, Olam, and World Resources Institute today announced an important breakthrough agreement to protect forests, great ape habitat, and local communities in Africa and Asia. This is a big step because Olam is “the world’s largest farmer,” operating in 70 countries and trading in 47 agricultural commodities.

Under the agreement, Olam agreed to suspend deforestation for palm oil and rubber, and also apply the industry-standard High Carbon Stock approach to its third-party suppliers (the agreement doesn’t apply to commodities other than palm oil and rubber, such as cocoa and coffee, areas we are continuing to investigate).

It followed Mighty Earth’s global campaign and publication of our Palm Oil’s Black Box report about Olam’s operations, and negotiations between Mighty Earth Chairman (and former Congressman) Henry Waxman and Olam CEO Sunny Verghese in Washington, DC. Action from Olam stakeholders like Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, as well as an array of Olam customers, and investors and banks contributed to this agreement. This breakthrough would not have been possible without the support of the Arcus Foundation, which works to conserve great ape and gibbon habitat around the world.

Of course, we hope that Olam’s suspension of land clearing in forests will have direct impacts to protect habitat for chimpanzees, gorillas, and other wildlife in Gabon and other places it operates. In addition, we hope this agreement dramatically improves treatment of local communities; we are continuing to work closely with our Gabonese partner Brainforest to monitor and address serious outstanding social issues.

Several aspects of this agreement have the potential for significant positive ramifications that transcend Olam’s own operations.

1. Olam and Mighty Earth have agreed to join others in working to determine consensus standards for development in the few remaining “High Forest Cover” countries that still have most of their forests intact. Olam had justified its activities in Gabon on the basis of that country’s high forest cover and relative lack of large-scale degraded land; on the other hand, we and other environmental advocates have traditionally viewed large, intact, wildlife-rich ecosystems like those found in Gabon as exactly the ones that need protecting from plantation agriculture. We’ve always believed that development should be focused on the 125 million hectares of degraded land around the world. We are hopeful that, just as the recent NGO-company “convergence process” on agriculture development was able to build consensus around strong conservation standards for commodity agriculture development around the world, this process will do the same for development in High Forest Cover landscapes like Gabon. Just as in the “convergence process,” we anticipate the key group will be the High Carbon Stock Approach, and its High Forest Cover working group.

2. The agreement also formally shuts down the “palm oil black box” that was the initial focus of Mighty’s report. Our initial concern was that Olam was keeping its suppliers’ identities secret, creating a potential outlet for rogue palm oil companies that wanted to evade the strong “No Deforestation” policies that almost all of Olam’s rivals (Wilmar, Musim Mas, GAR) have adopted. Now, Olam has taken a step forward for transparency by revealing their suppliers’ identities, pledged to apply the industry-standard strong conservation policies to them, and take further steps to align their transparency measures with industry leaders. We will of course continue monitoring Olam and other companies’ operations. We hope that they will soon take important steps like revealing their mill locations, and invest in serious conservation and restoration initiatives.

3. Olam’s commitment to deforestation-free rubber in its own plantations is one of the first examples of a corporate commitment to environmental and social responsibility in the rubber industry. Rubber is a globally significant driver of deforestation, but almost no rubber companies have any sustainability policies that go beyond mere pledges to adhere to the laws of the countries in which they operate. Michelin started to change that with its Sustainability policy in 2016, and now Olam is stepping up on the producer side. We anticipate greatly increased calls for the rubber industry to align themselves with deforestation-free policies in the palm oil, paper, and soy industries.

We look forward to working with Brainforest, Olam, WRI and all our allies around the world to make this progress stick in the months to come.

Featured image from Flickr.


Olam and Mighty Earth agree to collaborate on Forest Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture in Highly Forested Countries

Olam and Mighty Earth agree to collaborate on Forest Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture in Highly Forested Countries

Français

Washington D.C., February 21, 2017 – In the wake of Mighty Earth’s 2016 report, Palm Oil’s Black Box, Mighty Earth and Olam met in Washington D.C. and agreed to move forward on two imperatives: enabling models for responsible agricultural development that support forest conservation whilst addressing poverty reduction and job creation in Gabon and other high forest cover countries; and the need for palm oil traders to collectively strengthen incentives for suppliers in Southeast Asia to avoid deforestation and exploitation of workers or communities.

The meeting was convened to discuss the impact of the palm oil and rubber plantations developed by Olam with its Joint Venture partner, the Republic of Gabon, as well as Olam’s third party palm oil sourcing in Southeast Asia. The World Resources Institute moderated the meeting.

Olam agreed to:

  • Suspend further land clearing of forest in Gabon for palm and rubber plantations for a year (a period that can be extended). During this time, Mighty Earth and Olam agreed to support a multi-stakeholder process to develop further specific criteria for responsible agricultural development in countries that have most of their land covered by forests.
  • Continue to implement its time-bound plans to map and disclose more information about its third-party palm oil supply chains in Asia and require its third party suppliers to adhere to the High Carbon Stock Approach (described at highcarbonstock.org) as per its updated Palm Oil Policy.
  • Publish its procedures to address supply chain risks, including independent verification of compliance of high-risk sources.
  • Issue a revised grievance procedure that includes Olam’s third-party palm oil suppliers and protects the anonymity of those providing input. Olam will continue to routinely investigate and work to remediate any complaints received from indigenous or local communities.
  • Supplement its current sustainability policies with explicit references to protecting peat and ensuring no exploitation of workers or local communities.

Mighty Earth agreed to:

  • Suspend its current campaign targeting Olam’s oil palm and rubber operations for a year, including its complaint to FSC (a period that can be extended).
  • Work with the Gabonese government, civil society, and international experts and stakeholders to advance conservation and responsible development.

In a spirit of dialogue and increased mutual understanding, Olam and Mighty Earth jointly agreed to participate in stakeholder events with civil society organisations and government in Gabon, to encourage and support the High Carbon Stock Approach working group to develop clear guidelines for responsible development in highly forested landscapes, and to further explore conservation and restoration initiatives.

Olam’s Co-Founder and Group CEO, Sunny Verghese, said, “Olam remains committed to best practice in forest conservation, sustainable agricultural development, poverty reduction and job creation,” while noting, “we hope these actions can help sovereign countries like Gabon set their own pathways to sustainable development.”

“Mighty Earth welcomes the opportunity to help Gabon develop in a responsible way, and provide a model for conservation in high forest cover countries,” said Mighty Earth Chairman, former Congressman Henry Waxman.

“While this agreement focuses on palm oil and rubber, we hope it creates momentum for action across commodities.  World Resources Institute provided important assistance in reaching this agreement by facilitating this negotiation, and helped spur valuable dialogue to advance broader forest-friendly development.”

World Resources Institute President and CEO, Andrew Steer, noted “Balancing forest protection and new agricultural projects can be very challenging, and it is vital for countries, companies and civil society to work together and find common ground. This agreement is a good example of how organisations can come together to agree on a sustainable and prosperous path forward.”

See the signed formal agreement here.

For further information, please contact:

Mighty Earth

Marisa Bellantonio, Media Specialist, [email protected], +1-203-479-2026

Olam Corporate Communications

Nikki Barber, General Manager, [email protected], +44 207 484 8994; +44 7568 108555

 About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights.  Mighty Earth’s global team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at https://www.mightyearth.org/

About Olam International Limited

Olam International is a leading agri-business operating across the value chain in 70 countries, supplying various products across 16 platforms to over 16,200 customers worldwide. From a direct sourcing and processing presence in most major producing countries, Olam has built a global leadership position in many of its businesses. Headquartered in Singapore and listed on the SGX-ST on February 11, 2005, Olam currently ranks among the top 50 largest listed companies in Singapore in terms of market capitalisation. In 2016, Fortune magazine recognised Olam at #23 in its ‘Change the World’ list.  More information on Olam can be found at www.olamgroup.com.

About World Resources Institute

WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in the United States, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and more. Our more than 450 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action to sustain our natural resources – the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being. Our work focuses on six critical issues at the intersection of environment and development:  climate, energy, food, forests, water, cities and transport. For more information, www.wri.org


Korindo Goes Back on No-Deforestation Pledge

Campaign Director Deborah Lapidus was on Australian network ABC today speaking about Korindo's devastating impact on West Papua.

See the full clip here.


Satellite Data Shows Korindo Violates Deforestation Moratorium

This post was updated on February 16, 2017 at 4:30pm to include Korindo's response.

Through ongoing satellite monitoring, Mighty has discovered that agribusiness Korindo has violated its moratorium on new land development announced for all of its palm oil operations. Korindo announced its moratorium on December 1, 2016 but satellite images, pictured below, taken on December 13, 2016, January 12, 2017, and February 10, 2017 show that Korindo clearly violated its commitments. Weeks after its moratorium, Korindo’s PT Papua Agro Lestari concession in the Indonesian island of Papua carved out plantation “blocks” on approximately 1,400 hectares of forest, an activity also known as “stacking”, which is the final step of land development prior to forest clearing. You can see the same lines of the plantation blocks in the brown area which has already been cleared.

In response to this evidence, Korindo wrote us that they had lifted the moratorium after conducting conservation assessments even though those assessments had not gone through quality review. Because of serious concerns about the credibility of their chosen assessor, the need for these assessments to undergo quality review before development was a primary topic of conversation in a meeting between Mighty and Papuan civil society groups and Korindo in Jakarta in January.

“When we met with Korindo in Jakarta three weeks ago they assured us that they were adhering to their moratorium and committed to the High Carbon Stock Approach, which doesn’t allow for deforestation. Yet, at the same time, Korindo’s bulldozers were getting ready to clear a huge area of forest,” said Deborah Lapidus, Mighty Campaign Director. “We are very disappointed at Korindo’s duplicity, and urge them to immediately halt all further development. Because of its lies Korindo is losing what little credibility it had, and serious scrutiny is needed: their sustainability assessments must be approved by the industry’s quality review panels before Korindo commences any further development.”

Korindo’s PT PAL concession. The new lines that appear on the two images on right are plantation blocks that Korindo has carved in the forest in the last two months, the final step prior to forest clearing. The plantation blocks on the image from Jan 13th cover 1,400 hectares, and by February 10th, 2,400 hectares.

Mighty will share this news with Korindo’s current and former customers and urge them to maintain suspensions of purchases from Korindo.  Pulp and paper giant APRIL, which represents a substantial volume of Korindo’s wood products business, recently told Mighty it has decided not to renew its contract with Korindo because of its non-compliance with APRIL’s No Deforestation and No Exploitation policy. As we announced previously, Korindo has already lost palm oil business from Wilmar, Musim Mas, ADM, IOI and dozens of major brand companies said they would ensure Korindo was excluded from their supply chains.

Korindo’s PT Papua Agro Lestari plantation © Mighty, 4 June 2016; Latitude 6°45'41.80"S, Longitude 140°48'18.78"E.

Korindo also sells wind towers to major wind energy companies such as Siemens, Gamesa, Nordex, and Iberdrola. In October, Mighty sent letters to these companies asking that they end their business with Korindo due to Korindo’s environmental destruction and major contribution to climate change, which is counter to the mission of clean energy deployment. A positive response from these customers seems to have helped convince Korindo to announce its forest clearing moratorium, but unfortunately, the progress was short-lived.

“Korindo’s wind energy customers made their desire for Korindo to become environmentally responsible loud and clear, but Korindo did not deliver.  Now it’s high time for these companies to end their contracts in order to preserve the integrity of their mission to mitigate climate change and their commitments to maintain responsible supply chains,” said Lapidus.

POSCO Daewoo getting ready to clear 4,000 hectares of forest

At the same time as Korindo was busy preparing for its next round of destruction despite all its promises, its neighbor in Papua, the Korean multi-industy company POSCO Daewoo, was doing just the same at its PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA) concession. Satellite imagery shows that in the last month POSCO Daewoo has drawn plantation blocks over nearly 4,000 hectares of forest in the eastern part of its concession, which will imminently be cleared unless Posco Daewoo’s buyers, investors, and bankers intervene right away. This is the area in brown in the satellite image below.

The brown is a forested area of 4,000 hectares that POSCO Daewoo is getting ready to clear, as indicated by the plantation blocks they have carved into the forest.

In total, POSCO Daewoo has cleared 7,500 hectares of forest at PT BIA between September 2015 and December 2016, 4,300 of which was just in the last half of 2016. (See satellite images below.) POSCO Daewoo’s ongoing destruction of Indonesia’s last intact forests has been exposed in several recent reports and investigations including those conducted by Greenpeace and Mighty, and has resulted in it losing investment from the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Pension Fund. Yet, it continues business-as-usual deforestation.

POSCO Daewoo’s PT BIA: The area outlined in red was forested land cleared between Sept. 2015 (pictured on left) and Dec. 2016 (pictured on right), totaling 7,500 hectares.

“Korean companies think they can get away with deforestation in remote areas of Indonesia without being held accountable, but we want to let them know that the world is watching and Korean citizens are demanding action,” said Choony Kim, International Cooperation Coordinator with the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements. “These companies are bringing shame on themselves and they risk tarnishing the reputation of Korean industry.”

POSCO Daewoo’s PT BIA concession © Mighty; 5 June 2016.

Oil_palm_plantation_in_Cigudeg-04

Samling's Forest Crime Spree Moves to Myanmar

A coalition of Burmese civil society groups recently published a report regarding Samling Group’s palm oil operations in Myanmar. The report details land grabs, indigenous rights violations, and environmental problems, including pollution of local water sources and clear-cutting high conservation forests (HCV) inside a proposed national park that is home to endangered tigers. These environmental and human rights problems in Myanmar can all be traced back to Samling Group, a Malaysian conglomerate headquartered in Sarawak. This influential company has about 20,000 employees, is run by one of the 40 richest people in Malaysia, creates a market for deforestation palm oil at a time when most of the industry is heading in the opposite direction, and is a supplier to many leading companies around the world. For these reasons, and because of its long track record of abuse, Samling merits a closer look.

Women and children protesting the MSPP concession © Environmental Investigation Agency

Samling’s MSPP project is located in an area with a history of violence and human rights abuses, creating an atmosphere of confusion that Samling has manipulated for financial gain. For over 60 years, the region was plagued by civil war between the Karen National Union and the central Government. Between 1997 and 2007, the Myanmar Army committed human rights violations including rape, torture, and arbitrary killings of civilians as well as looting, destruction of property, and forced labor in the MSPP area. A 2012 ceasefire agreement opened these civil war zones to foreign investment, establishing mixed administration by KNU and the Myanmar Government, such that both governments can now shift blame for MSPP’s oil palm plantation’s impacts. According to the Burmese civil society report, MSPP’s concession overlaps with 38,900 acres of community and agricultural lands incorrectly classified by the central Government as ‘vacant land’, including HVC forest that is home to tigers and approximately 4,480 Karen indigenous people. Families’ crops and orchards have been cleared, villagers indebted, and chemical run-off from MSPP’s palm oil plantations has polluted local water sources – all without fair compensation for villagers by MSPP and without Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. MSPP’s abuses illustrate high risks of investment in conflict areas in Myanmar.

How does Samling fit in? See the broader picture of the Burmese palm oil project's corporate structure above. © Environmental Investigation Agency

These abuses are par for the course. Samling and its subsidiary Glenealy already have a documented and abysmal track record of human rights abuses against indigenous people, environmental crimes, and illegal activities that spans decades.

Brief compendium of earlier reports of Samling abuses

We believe Samling should immediately stop MSPP’s current operations, compensate villagers for all past harms, restore an area at least equivalent to what it has destroyed, and obey the law of the land. Samling must meet the industry benchmark for responsible production by immediately announcing a comprehensive cross-commodity No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation policy in adherence with the HCSA methodology for its operations and supply chain.

Should Samling not agree to these steps, Maybank should divest from Samling. All Maybank investors should require immediate action by Maybank to divest from companies driving deforestation, peatland clearance, and human rights abuse, including Samling and its subsidiaries.  (Maybank is also likely financing rogue palm oil trader Sunfield Global, who is buying from Sarawak peatland destroyer BLD/Kirana.) According to the recent Burmese civil society report investors in Maybank include the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, PGGM (Netherlands), British Columbia Investment Management (Canada, APG Asset Management (Netherlands), TIAA Global Management (United States), CPP Investment Board (Canada), Forsta AP-Fonden (Sweden), Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec (Canada), and AMF Pensions for sakring (Sweden).

Featured image from a_rabin.