Please sign this petition in support of the grievance complaint filed by NGOs and the Long Teran Kanan community with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). See links below for a background on the case.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil brings together all players in the palm oil industry - from growers, millers to consumers and NGOs - into its membership. It was founded to ensure that palm oil practices respect and follow sustainability principles that minimise impacts on the environment, wildlife and biodiversity, workers, local communities and indigenous peoples. The RSPO Principles and Criteria provide guidance for the certification of oil palm growers and producers and issuance of sustainability certificates. RSPO-accredited certification bodies and their auditors contracted by the palm oil grower or producer themselves conduct the review and send recommendations to RSPO. RSPO based on these recommendations then decides on whether to issue the certificate or not.
For more information about RSPO, click here.
The IOI Corporation is a business giant and conglomerate with diverse interests one of which is in the palm oil industry. It runs several subsidiaries in different countries overseeing plantations and running milling operations. Some of these estates have existing sustainability certificates while the others are currently undergoing certification process.
The IOI Corporation currently sits on the Executive Board of the RSPO as one of the representatives of the palm oil growers or producers. With such a prominent role, it is expected that they conduct their operations above board in respecting RSPO principles. IOI is also a Council Member of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) who recently issued a statement attacking the complainant NGOs and reiterating non sequiturs in defence of IOI.
Which groups are parties to the grievance complaint?
Borneo Resource Institute (BRIMAS), Malaysia
Bruno Manser Fonds, Switzerland
Friends of the Earth Europe, Brussels
Kontak Rakyat Borneo, Indonesia
Lembaga Gemawan, Indonesia
Long Teran Kanan Community, Malaysia
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), Malaysia
Rainforest Action Network, United States
Sarawak Indigenous Lawyers Association (SILA), Malaysia
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), Malaysia
Save our Borneo, Indonesia
Sawit Watch, Indonesia
Vereiniging Milieudefensie, Netherlands
WALHI Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia
1. Native Customary Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Sarawak, Malaysia
In 2006, IOI acquired a 70% majority stake in a Sarawak plantation for about € 5 million. It bought a palm oil estate from Rinwood Plantations knowing that the indigenous population had brought a court case against Rinwood about ten years earlier. Assisted by pro bono lawyers, the Long Teran Kanan village fought for recognition of their native customary rights over the land. In March 2010, the village won the lawsuit before the Miri High Court. The land rights of the village were recognized, and the residents of Long Teran Kanan were entitled to compensation for their losses and damages to the land. Before the court issued its ruling, IOI had flatly promised the villagers that the company would not appeal, even if it would lose the case. However, immediately after the ruling, IOI still filed an appeal.
For more information about the case, see Grassroot's report here. ("Industry Oppresses Indigenous peoples" Case study of IOI Pelita Plantations operations and practices and its impact upon the community of Long Teran Kanan, Tinjar, Baram, Sarawak, Malaysia)
2. Deforestation and Encroachment of High Conservation Areas
The second complaint concerns the operations of two IOI subsidiaries in Ketapang district, West Kalimantan. Contrary to IOI's own CSR policies, the two subsidiaries contravened RSPO policies and Indonesian law by clearing over 10,000 hectares without valid permits. The company lied to local authorities in writing, saying that no land would be opened up before its environmental impact reports were approved. At that time, half of the aforementioned areas had already been opened up. The company also cut outside its concession boundaries inside the Dana Manis Mata forest reserve. Satellite images leave no room for doubt. However, in response to a March 2010 report published by Friends of the Earth, IOI publicly denied it all and claimed: "There was no law violation."
For more information, see Milieudefensie's "Too Green To Be True" report here.
What the NGOs and the Long Teran Kanan community seek
Through their complaint to RSPO, the villagers in Long Teran Kanan and the coalition of NGOs seek RSPO's recognition of IOI abuses and reprimand for IOI's arrogant attitude towards the villagers of Long Teran Kanan and their denials of any wrongdoing. Despite the extension granted by RSPO, IOI has yet to come up with an action plan mutually acceptable to and agreed on by the complainants. For failing to act on these, the complainants call on RSPO
- to suspend all current and existing sustainability certificates of IOI until they fully comply with RSPO's principles and criteria
- to initiate a mediation process to resolve the conflict with the Long Teran Kanan community
- to insist that IOI follow appropriate legal procedures in developing high conservation areas, and return the land to appropriate parties
- to address weaknesses in RSPO's certification process and strengthen the integrity and independence of certification bodies
Last year, complaints against IOI were filed in RSPO by Long Teran Kanan village in Sarawak and a coalition of NGOs in Malaysia, Indonesia, Europe and the United States. In March 30, the grievance panel suspended IOI's ongoing certification process (but not the existing sustainability certificates). IOI was found in violation of RSPO partial certification rules which require company groups with certified plantation estates to ensure that its non-certified subsidiaries are free from significant land conflicts, deforestation of High Conservation Value areas, labour conflicts and legal non-compliances. IOI also violated RSPO's Code of Conduct requiring members to commit to open and transparent dialogue with its stakeholders.
This May 25, the grievance panel of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) will reach its final decision regarding complaints lodged against IOI Corporation, a giant oil palm plantation company from Malaysia. Whether the RSPO Panel proceeds to a full suspension of all current RSPO certificates issued to IOI remains to be seen, although RSPO's own rules are very clear that this should be the inevitable consequence.
For more information on the IOI case with RSPO, click here.
The RSPO is reluctant to function as its membership's policeman or judge. It focuses on win-win solutions, putting certified palm oil on the market and encouraging dialogue between stakeholders. But how is all this possible, when one of its most prominent members is consistently and knowingly lying and cheating to its stakeholders? What is the value of the RSPO label on the packets of margarine if RSPO remains afraid to implement its own policies and thus make hard choices?