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Press Release: WPLC Receives 2018 Arc of Justice Award

Water Protector Legal Collective - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 09:45

North Dakota Human Rights Coalition confers award for ongoing legal defense of Water Protectors Mandan, ND: At a ceremony today in Fargo, ND, an award was conferred by the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition upon Water Protector Legal Collective for championing the human rights of Water Protectors arrested in the NoDAPL resistance at Standing Rock Read More

The post Press Release: WPLC Receives 2018 Arc of Justice Award appeared first on Water Protector Legal Collective.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

“Mainstreaming biodiversity” in extractive industries: Concealing devastation and land grabbing

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 17:39

A compilation of articles from the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin on the occasion of the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),
to be held 17 – 29 November, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Download the compilation.

Photo: Paracatu, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Ph. ABR; José Cruz/Agencia Brasil

 

Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will gather to discuss, among others, proposals to “mainstream biodiversity in the energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing sectors.”

The focus of the meeting is not a surprise. The reality is that these industry sectors are responsible for large-scale destruction of biological diversity; and policy makers, conservation NGOs, multilateral and donor organizations and the industries themselves are looking for tools to conceal this devastation.

In the case of biodiversity offsets, the requirement for allowing destructive operations in places where environmental regulation would otherwise not allow it is that the biodiversity destroyed at the site of interest to the company be recreated or replaced elsewhere. The lost biodiversity is supposed to be ‘equivalent’ to the alleged protected or (re)created area. Yet, in addition to no two places really being equivalent, the manufactured ‘equivalence’ in fact silences important contradictions and issues of power, territorial rights, inequalities and violence.

Predictably enough, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, changed its Performance Standard 6 in 2012. Any company wishing to access an IFC loan for a project that will destroy what the IFC considers to be ‘critical habitat,’ must present a plan stating that the biodiversity destroyed will be compensated elsewhere. Accordingly, governments mainly from the Global South are increasingly relaxing their environmental laws by including provisions for biodiversity offsetting, to follow the ‘rules’ established by financial institutions and their corporate allies.

It is imperative to halt the underlying causes of biodiversity and forest loss and degradation. The CBD and its allies, however, seeking ways for corporate destruction of biodiversity to continue – or, in their words, to mainstream biodiversity within these sectors – is steering policy, funds and discussions towards a dangerous path. The idea of offsetting is fundamentally flawed. With its promise to compensate the corporate destruction of biodiversity, it does nothing to stop the destruction caused in the first place!

>>> Download the compilation.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Compilation of WRM Bulletin articles

– Destroy here and destroy there: The double exploitation of biodiversity offsets

– Brazil, Mining and Biodiversity: From environmental degraders to environmental services providers. When the line between destroying and conserving is merely rhetorical

– Biodiversity offsetting and biodiversity corridors in Asia: Nature destruction and protection acting in tandem

– Colombia: Environmental Offsets, Legitimizing Extraction

– Madagascar: The “offsetting non-sense”

– Environmental offsets in Panama: A strategy that opens up protected areas to mining

– From Biodiversity Offsets to Ecosystem Engineering: New Threats to Communities and Territories

– Destructive companies “creating more biodiversity”?

– Biodiversity offsets facilitate continuation of business-as-usual destruction by mining companies

– World Bank paving the way for a national biodiversity offset strategy in Liberia

3. Further readings

>>> Download the compilation.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Certification promotes land concentration, violence and destruction

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 17:38

Both of these certification schemes for tree plantations initially generated many expectations, promising a true transformation: they would mitigate the negative impacts of large-scale tree plantations, in such a way that the plantations could generate a positive balance for local communities, the local economy and the environment. Yet after all these years, we can definitely conclude that what the RSPO and FSC also have in common is that they will not meet those expectations.

Gabon: Violence in OLAM’s plantations. Ph: Muyissi Environnement

The RSPO was created 14 years ago, and the FSC 25 years ago. Both of these certification schemes for tree plantations initially generated many expectations, promising a true transformation: they would mitigate the negative impacts of large-scale tree plantations, in such a way that the plantations could generate a positive balance for local communities, the local economy and the environment. Yet after all these years, we can definitely conclude that what the RSPO and FSC also have in common is that they will not meet those expectations.

In an open letter to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for its 16th conference in November 2018 (the letter can be signed here), a group of organizations warns that the promised transformation did not take place, but rather the complete opposite. The letter states that “The RSPO promise of “transformation” has turned into a powerful greenwashing tool for corporations in the palm oil industry. RSPO grants this industry, which remains responsible for violent land grabbing, environmental destruction, pollution through excessive use of agrotoxics and destruction of peasant and indigenous livelihoods, a “sustainable” image.”

Almost all of the articles in this edition of the WRM bulletin discuss industrial tree plantations, which include oil palm plantations; some even look at the certification seals mentioned above, and how they actually benefit companies to the detriment of communities.

The article on Brazil, for example, shows how large companies in the Amazon use and abuse the RSPO and FSC seals (Forest Stewardship Council) in order to legitimize their illegal practices. It is a recurring practice for large landowners in Brazil to produce false land titles, which is known as grilagem, or land grabbing. The RSPO and FSC developed principles that mandate that forest management occur on lands whose titles have been obtained legally, in order for it to be certified as responsible. Yet in the case of the certified company Agropalma, which grows oil palm, the RSPO lend credibility to land documentation which for years has been the subject of investigations—and legal actions brought against the company by Brazilian authorities.

In the case of FSC-certified logging company, Jari Florestal (also in Brazil), the seal also lent credibility to illegal documentation, and has ignored legal actions underway since 2005. Even though from the moment it granted the seal to the company, the certifier proposed a process to resolve serious land conflicts with local communities, these conflicts have still not been resolved. What is worse is that during all the years in which it enjoyed the seal (from 2004 to 2017), the company obtained advantages on international markets compared to non-certified wood, with which it further profited. This is, in fact, the resulting benefit of the FSC.

In another article we show how in Gabon, the RSPO-certified company, OLAM, deprived an entire community of one of the most essential rights: access to drinking water. It should also be mentioned that the company recently tried, without success, to control and interfere in a gathering of communities who wanted to have a collaborators-only meeting to discuss the problems they face due to OLAM’s plantations. The communities want to discuss and freely exchange about these problems, and indeed they have every right to do so. At the gathering, they analyzed how—by creating committees to discuss supposed benefits that it would implement in each community—OLAM is actually trying to prevent collective dialogue among communities about what worries them most: the unbridled expansion of oil palm plantations onto the forests and lands they depend on. This process of expansion is generating a series of negative impacts that jeopardize the physical and cultural survival of these communities.

What is happening in Gabon is also happening in other countries, as other articles in this bulletin show. However, neither the RSPO nor the FSC does nothing to stop the expansion of plantations, which its members foment on a daily basis. On the contrary, it is colluding with them.

What can be done beyond certification? Communities chart paths of hope and devise resistance strategies. In the article on Nigeria, we read that there is a strong culture of native oil palm in the country, which significantly contributes to the construction of cultural identity and the economic well-being of thousands of rural communities. However, these communities are also suffering from the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations. This is promoted, for example, by OKOMU, which is owned by the Socfin Group—a member of the RSPO. In an interview, one of the women from the communities facing the company talks about the great violence that the communities suffer, in particular women. But not only that. She also insists on telling how the community resistance began, when 15 years ago, in a seemingly totally desperate situation, someone said, “We are going to fight this battle for future generations.”

Indeed, what is at stake is the future. With the expansion of supposedly “sustainable” plantations that the RSPO and FSC promote in several countries and continents, the freedom of thousands of communities to use their territories, as well as their capacity to maintain and strengthen their livelihoods, is seriously threatened. To reverse this, it is vital to weaken certification seals like the FSC and RSPO. Those who have influence over the seals—for example, the industries that buy palm oil and end consumers of products with certified ingredients—should refuse to keep buying them.

In the meantime, communities’ resistance will continue, and it will doubtless grow as plantations advance upon more lands and forests. Our role is to do everything possible to make the cry of these communities ever stronger.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Are FSC and RSPO accomplices in crime? Jari Florestal and Agropalma’s Unresolved Land Question in the Brazilian Amazon

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 17:34

For years, WRM has been warning that many certified monoculture plantations in Brazil have been established on land for which titles were obtained fraudulently. This article discusses the case of two companies that operate in the Brazilian Amazon: Agropalma and Jari Florestal.

Jari Florestal. Ph: Tarcísio Feitosa

For years, WRM has been warning that many certified monoculture plantations in Brazil have been established on land for which titles were obtained fraudulently. This article discusses the case of two companies that operate in the Brazilian Amazon: Agropalma and Jari Florestal. Their plantations have been certified, despite court cases against the companies for forgery of land titles. The RSPO was the certifier in the case of Agropalma, and the FSC in the case of Jari Florestal. (1)

Brazil’s history is marked by violent and massive evictions of indigenous peoples and traditional and peasant communities from their land. A recurring practice among large landholders—wanting to become “owners” of these community lands—is the manufacture of false documents. The practice is so widespread that there is a word for it in Brazilian Portuguese: grilagem de terras. (2) This practice has helped Brazil become as one of the countries with the most unequal land distribution in the world today.

By granting their labels, the certifiers become accomplices in the process of expropriation and violence, as they endorse the – questionable – legality of the companies’ position with respect to the land.

The Case of Agropalma

Agropalma is one of the main oil palm plantation companies in Brazil, and its plantations cover about 39,000 hectares in the state of Pará. According to its website, the company has several certification labels, which are “essential to maintain its credibility in the market”. (3) One of these is the RSPO label, which they obtained in 2013, and which covers all of the area that Agropalma has planted. (4)

Agropalma also participates in a society called the Palm Oil Innovation Group, which was created together with non-governmental organizations such as WWF, Greenpeace and the Forest Peoples Program (FPP), “in order to intensify and improve the principles and criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).” (5)

However, the Federal Police has been investigating Agropalma in the state of Pará since 2016 for involvement in alleged criminal activities. Company officials produced and used falsified documents before public agencies, in order to obtain the regularization of land and possible access to public financing – to the detriment of residents who lived there.

In March 2018, company premises were searched and material confiscated, and four people directly involved in the scheme – including an Agropalma official – were temporarily arrested. According to the police officer responsible for the investigation, “There are signs that point to this being case of land appropriation through falsified documents (…). Agropalma is the true beneficiary of the criminal scheme.” The officer also stated that “They went to a notary public’s office in Belém [the capital of Pará State] and created a false deed -a whole false chain of ownership that ended at the company; as if the land, after many turns, had ultimately been sold to the company. They later returned to the municipality in question and requested the book of deeds that had supposedly gone missing to be reinstated.” (6)

According to the investigation, a decision by the Pará Court of Justice authorizes that a lost book of deeds can be reinstated if the interested party has documented evidence to confirm the authenticity of the book of deeds. Through an artifice of false deeds, Agropalma was able to see the book of deeds restored, based on false documents, putting land in the company’s name and increasing its land area. It then began the process of land regularization at public agencies.

In August 2018, Prosecution Authorities of the state of Pará filed a Public Civil Action, which required (among other measures) that the real estate records of the two farms – Roda de Fogo and Castanheira – be nullified and cancelled. Together, these two farms cover over 9,501 hectares, an area the size of almost 9,000 football fields. Agropalma acquired both farms using false records obtained at a phony notary public in the city, and these records were being processed at the Land Institute of Pará (ITERPA, by its acronym in Portuguese). (7)

The Case of Jari Florestal

In 1967, US millionaire Daniel Ludwig paid three million dollars to the Brazilian military dictatorship to control no less than 1.6 million hectares of forest in the north of the country—in a region called Vale do Jari, between the states of Pará and Amapá.

His venture caused major deforestation, in order to set up plantations of an exotic tree from Indonesia called Gmelina arborea, for pulp production. With public financing from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), Ludwig commissioned the construction of a pulp mill that was brought in by sea from Japan.

The venture attracted thousands of people to the region. The urban hub of Monte Dourado, in the municipality of Almeirim, in Pará, became the center of the project. After planted fungus infested the 64,000 hectares of Gmelina plantation already planted, the company turned to pine plantations, and later to eucalyptus. Due to growing criticism of the military’s support for the foreign businessman, and because he was in a serious financial crisis, Ludwig sold his company in 1982 to a consortium of 23 Brazilian companies. The purchase was made with public money (8).

In 2000, the ORSA group began controlling the company, and in 2003 this group created ORSA Florestal, to focus on logging. In 2004, ORSA Florestal obtained the FSC label through the SCS certification company for forest management of 545,000 hectares. At the same time, the company obtained the FSC label for pulp plantations. (9)

In 2013 the enterprise began to be called Jari Group, while ORSA Florestal became Jari Florestal. (10) In 2014, the company’s forestry management -now Jari Florestal -was re-certified for a total area of 715,665 hectares. Of these, 666,100 hectares are for logging, with an expected wood extraction of 30m3 per hectare and year, mainly for export. (11) In its 2014 report, SCS states that “the company has legal land ownership documentation for the land eligible for certification from public authorities -for the areas in both Pará State and Amapá State”, in the name of the Jari Celulose company, belonging to the Jari Group.

SCS also states that “the legitimacy of this documentation was verified through consultations with the competent authorities.” Nonetheless, SCS admits that in its first certification evaluation in 2003/2004, it had already identified the lack of regularization of land for communities that live in the Jari area. At that time, SCS requested the company draw up a regularization plan for inhabitants with ownership rights, but between 2004 and 2013 a series of problems arose that made execution of the plan difficult. Always maintaining that “the company has legal and legitimate documentation,” SCS alleges that the problems were caused by purported “invaders” on company land, and that is why Jari pursued legal action against those people to restitute its property.

SCS makes Jari out to be a victim in this land title mess. When it writes that “Jari Florestal cannot be blamed, much less punished, for the past successes and mistakes of the ‘Jari Project,'” SCS is suggesting that the company has no responsibility for the existing land problems. And that “if it meets FSC guidelines, it is qualified to have and maintain certification, as it has done throughout these nine years.” (12)

Perhaps that is why in its report, SCS completely ignored two judicial processes that were already underway, and which contradict its assertions about the supposed legality of the documentation of the land Jari Florestal claims.

The first is a 2005 legal action that the government of the state of Pará initiated, requesting that it be declared that Jari Florestal does not own the land which it intends to legalize at the Land Institute of Pará. (13) In the action, the Pará state attorney general calls into question Jari Group’s alleged property of land that in the past was Fazenda Saracura, a 2,6-million-hectare farm. According to a historical study, “the circumstances in which [the alleged owner, around 1882] obtained those areas are surrounded by accounts of electoral fraud and fraud in the notary registrars of the region, thus starting a complicated land situation which to this day is unresolved.” (14) Therefore, the Pará state Court of Appeal called for the cancellation of registrations, transcripts, records, and marginal notes about the [Fazenda Saracura] property, “(…) in order to avoid the legalization of how Jari ‘magically’ transformed the Fazenda into property,” the attorney general states in the 2005 action.

The second action was in 2011 and was processed before the Federal Justice in Pará. It was based on the Federal Public Ministry’s indictment against the director of Jari Group, who allegedly engaged in criminal acts when presenting land titles to obtain authorization to extract wood of native species. Jari Group presented a forest management plan to the federal environmental organization, IBAMA, in 2001, in order to obtain authorization to start logging. The Federal Public Ministry initiated the action in 2005, based on IBAMA’s suspicions of fraudulent documents. (15)

Jari Florestal’s FSC certification has been suspended since 2017, but not because of the land issue. (16) The SCS made this decision based on a special audit carried out in 2015, after an IBAMA operation fined the company 6 million Brasilian Real, for irregularities in its forest management that pointed to the illegal sale of wood. Due to the company’s lack of cooperation in the certifier’s investigation, SCS decided to suspend the certificate. (17)

According to news published in the press at that time, the “workers’ complaints and (…) violence against traditional communities” also influenced the decision. (18) In its latest report, available on the FSC website, SCS reports that the suspension is being maintained. Since the irregularities occurred outside the area certified by the FSC, SCS points out that it is up to FSC International to decide whether to keep Jari Florestal as an affiliate or not. (19) To date, Jari is still a member of the FSC.

Final Considerations

A tactic that companies use to mask illegal actions is to look for mechanisms that can make their practices appear legal. The FSC and RSPO seem to fit within this approach, even more so when certifiers end up doing a big favor to the company -by accepting their land titles as legal while completely ignoring communities’ evidence and the years of investigations and legal actions carried out by the competent authorities. Demonstrating its awareness of this tactic, in its legal action against Agropalma, the Public Ministry of Pará mandated that, in light of the irregularities, the company must refrain from displaying the RSPO Certificate “8-0090-08-100-00” on its advertising pieces. (20)

In the case of Jari Florestal, this company also found a strategic ally in the certification process, in this case, in the FSC. The environmental and social chaos that this enterprise causes in the region should automatically prevent it from receiving any certificate of sustainability that could give it greater economic importance and credibility in wood-consuming markets. But the enterprise not only obtained the FSC certificate, but found the certifier to be an ally in “solving” its major land problems. While the problems remained unresolved, with its certificate the company managed to sell its wood as certified in international markets, from 2004 to 2015. This was the case until the IBAMA operation triggered a suspension of the certificate. Even so, the FSC keeps Jari Florestal as an affiliate.

Virtually ignored by the FSC, and in spite of the pressure they have endured, a group of traditional communities has been fighting for years to recover their land, not as individual lots but as collective territories recognized by official bodies. Seeking collective land titles has been the main strategy that traditional communities across the country have used to fight for justice and the reparation of historical violation of their rights. Communities in Brazil use this strategy to be able to resist the head-on advance of large land holdings, and to guarantee their future physical and socio-cultural survival.

Finally, it should be noted that Jari Florestal has also been involved in a REDD+ project since 2010, along with the company Biofílica, as another way to profit. REDD+ is a payment mechanism for reducing deforestation. Conveniently, the baseline for Jari Group’s REDD+ project was set between 2000 and 2010, thus excluding the history of large-scale logging, not to mention the forest degradation this logging has caused over the last 15 years. Jari has already made money from the REDD+ project, by selling 200,000 carbon credits. What is striking is that, also in the sphere of the REDD+ project, community members have presented the same demand for regularization of their territory. It is not surprising that this project also led to another certification for Jari Florestal, in 2013, this time by the VCS certification system for REDD+ projects (Verified Carbon Standard). (21). According to the VCS program’s database, this certification is still valid. (22)

Winnie Overbeek
WRM International Secretariat

(1) The certification systems of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) are for the management of forests and tree plantations; while those of the RSPO (the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) are for palm plantations. For more information, see here.
(2) The practice known as ‘grilagem’ in Portuguese aims to transfer public lands to the private sector using falsified public documents of possession or property (TRECCANI, 2001); this action implies a group of associated crimes such as embezzlement, criminal association, bad administrative practices, and illicit enrichment. In most cases this practice is associated with acts of violence, since the lands in question are occupied by traditional peoples and communities or family farmers (SIDALC, BDAGBAMB), who are expelled by judicial order or by armed militias. (TRECCANI, Girolamo Domenico. Violência e grilagem: instrumentos de aquisição da propriedade da terra no Pará. UFPA, ITERPA, 2001; y SIDALC, BDAGBAMB. O livro branco da grilagem de terras no Brasil. P. imprenta: Brasilia, DF (Brasil). nd. 41 p.)
(3) www.agropalma.com.br
(4) https://rspo.secure.force.com/membership/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?retURL=%2Fmembership%2Fapex%2FRSPOCertSearch&file=00P9000001KQ4JEEA1
(5)https://wrm.org.uy/articles-from-the-wrm-bulletin/section1/brazil-discourse-of-innovation-contrasts-with-a-reality-of-life-in-conditions-akin-to-slavery-for-workers-employed-by-one-of-agropalmas-suppliers/
(6)https://g1.globo.com/pa/para/noticia/operacao-da-pf-investiga-fraudes-em-documentos-de-regularizacao-fundiaria-no-para.ghtml
(7) https://www2.mppa.mp.br/sistemas/gcsubsites/index.php?action=Noticia.show&id=1697&oOrgao=94
(8) https://wrm.org.uy/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Pulping_the_South.pdf and http://www.fgv.br/cpdoc/acervo/dicionarios/verbete-tematico/projeto-jari
(9) http://www.inesgodinho.com.br/pdfs/RS_Orsa_2010.pdf
(10) Jari Group is also made up of Jari Celulose, which manages the pulp plantations—most of which are eucalyptus; Ouro Verde Amazônia, which is focused on non-timber products; and the Jari Foundation, which carries out social projects in communities to mitigate the company’s negative impacts. See here.
(11) https://br.fsc.org/preview.fmpubjariflorestal071614port.a-611.pdf
(12) Ibid
(13) Declaratory action of non-existence of domain and the impossibility of recognition of domain outside of administrative channels, with a request for a temporary injunction. Belém, 21/09/2005. Ibraím José das Mercês Roch, Pará State Prosecutor, coordinator of the Office of Lands (Procuradoria Fundiária), distributed in connection with case number 2004100356-1.
(14) FOLHES, Ricardo; CAMARGO, Maria Luiza. LATIFÚNDIO. Conflito e desenvolvimento no Vale do Jari: do aviamento ao capitalismo verde. Agrária (São Paulo. Online), n. 18, p. 114-140, 2013.
(15) Police Investigation (Federal Police of Santarém: Number: 192/2004-DPF/SNM/PA) and Santarém Federal Court Process (Federal Court of Santarém: No. 423-06.2012.4.01.3902).
(16) https://info.fsc.org/details.php?id=a0240000005sV5xAAE&type=certificate
(17) http://fsc.force.com/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?file=00P3300000evgxOEAQ
(18) https://www.celuloseonline.com.br/fsc-suspense-certificacao-da-jari/
(19) http://businessdocbox.com/Forestry/70796352-Forest-management-and-stump-to-forest-gate-chain-of-custody-surveillance-evaluation-report.html
(20) https://www2.mppa.mp.br/sistemas/gcsubsites/index.php?action=Noticia.show&id=1697&oOrgao=94
(21) https://redd-monitor.org/2015/12/17/the-jari-amapa-redd-project-brazil-greenwashing-illegal-logging-a-pulp-mill-and-a-48-year-old-land-grab/
(22) https://www.vcsprojectdatabase.org/#/projects/st_/c_BR/ss_0/so_/di_/np_

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Nigeria: Okomu’s oil palm plantations bring misery for women living in their vicinity

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 17:28

Interview with Hajaratu Abdullahi from Community Forest Watch in Nigeria who talks about the hardship and misery that the palm oil company Okomu Oil, subsidiary of global palm oil company SocFin, is bringing to communities like hers in Nigeria’s Edo state. She explains how the company’s industrial plantation puts traditional use of oil palm and communities’ food sovereignty at risk.

Nigeria. Ph: ERA/FoE

Oil palm cultivation is part of the way of life –indeed it is the culture– of millions of people in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Oil palm trees grow naturally in this region and there is, therefore, a long history of traditional use not just of palm oil but all parts of the palm tree. In one regional dialect, oil palms are referred to as ‘Osisi na ami ego’ – ‘the tree that produces money’. (1) But in Nigeria as elsewhere, this crucial source of cultural identity and economic well-being for rural communities is being threatened by the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations.

In this interview, Hajaratu Abdullahi from Community Forest Watch talks about how the palm oil company Okomu Oil is bringing hardship and misery to communities like hers in Nigeria’s Edo state and how the company’s industrial plantation puts traditional use of oil palm and communities’ food sovereignty at risk.

Okomu Oil Palm Company was founded in 1976 as a state company, but the Luxemburg-registered global corporation SOCFIN now owns 63 per cent of the shares. In 1998, at least four villages were forcefully destroyed and the inhabitants evicted, with their houses, properties and farmland taken over by the company. Tensions between the company and affected communities rose and the company set up gates at the entrance roads to the plantations. Community members feel harassed and their movements are limited, in particular when the company imposed a night time curfew and controlled the entry of community activists it considered ‘troublemakers’. “Leaving the village or coming home is like passing a border,” a community activist explained in 2015. In 2015, the Edo state government ordered the revocation of land deals involving around 13,750 hectares that Okomu had marked for expansion of their oil palm plantations – an order the company has ignored to this day. In June 2017, in spite of several attempts at intimidation by security forces, oil palm impacted communities, peasants, women and civil society groups such as ERA/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, organised a protest against the complicity of the present Edo State Governor Obaseki with Okomu’s activities.

WRM: How has life changed for women since Okomu‘s oil palm plantations arrived in your area?

Hajaratu Abdullahi: Since Okomu arrived in my community, there has been a lot of suffering for the women, because we have no more freedom of our own. Number one: Going and coming, there’s no freedom any longer [because the company controls access to the villages inside the plantation through a series of gates where company security guards check and register all passing traffic]. Number Two: they can come into your farm without notification and destroy everything you planted, palm trees, your crops.

Some years ago, the company came into four communities at once, they pillaged everything, everyone was running helter-skelter. Nobody was there who you could cry to. The people who are supposed to be there for you to cry to, they were not there, maybe they had taken money. It was only one person who came out, called some youth, some men, who said “Let’s fight this battle for future generations’ reference” And that’s how the community resistance started, this struggle against Okomu started. That’s more than 15 years ago now.

And we have to keep mobilizing because we are still suffering. Now, with these company plantations all around, we have no freedom to enter our forests, our farms, the forest reserves, the areas we used to pick snails. We survive on snails, we survive on vegetables. All these things, we have no access to them anymore, but they are what provided for us.

Secondly, you know, we women in Nigeria, we depend on traditional herbs. For example, when a woman is pregnant, as early as just one month, there are certain herbs we give to her; then, throughout the pregnancy, she will be given different herbs. From two months to four, we use a different herb again, it continues like that. When she gets to eight months, there is a particular herb that pregnant women are given, so that the placenta will follow with the baby, so that there will be no bleeding. But now with the company plantations, all these herbs are nowhere to be found. We walk and walk and walk, searching for herbs. You cannot get them anymore. You cannot imagine the problem this has become for the women. It’s the plantations that make us suffer. Because before, even when there was nothing left at home, the woman knew how to take care of her family, because she had her farm and the forest. But since Okomu came into our communities, to our state, into the country, there have been real problems. We are hungry, because there is nothing to survive with, because you cannot even pick any seeds of palm fruit or they arrest you.

WRM: What happens when you collect more?

Hajaratu Abdullahi: They will get you arrested! And who will come for you, to get you out?

One time, Okomu came and broke a bridge that we had built for ourselves. They just came and broke it! One of the chiefs, he said “How can you come and break the bridge we built? You must replace it.” They never replaced our bridge. The women, we used the bridge to pass to the different places from where we get our vegetables and other things that feed us. How can we go there now that the bridge is gone?

Another example. About a year or two years ago, a group of women went to go and set traps in the river, so we could catch some fish. The traps were seized by the Managing Director of Okomu. Until today, those traps have not been released. Setting traps, fishing, cultivating, these are the things we do to make some money. And replacing these traps is really expensive. These are things we did to take care of the family. If you don’t make money, you cannot take care of your family, cannot send your children to school. A lot of our children – they are at home now because there is no money to further their education.

WRM: How about jobs for village women in the company?

Hajaratu Abdullahi: There are none! And there is no compensation. Even if they are doing one or two things for compensation in other communities, in Okomu community, the community never accepted anything. And they are not even ready. We have soldiers in our communities.

And there is no freedom of movement for us. Sometime in April 2018, when a community activist from Cameroon came to share his experiences with us, he said “Let me go and visit these communities.” One of the communities we wanted to visit, was Okomu. We arrived on a Saturday. To get to the communities inside the plantation, you have to use pass the company gates. [See also WRM Bulletin 199] When we get to the gates, we got out to sign ourselves in before entering the plantation. Then, the company people looked at our vehicle and said “On your vehicle, you don’t have a sticker. If you don’t have a sticker you cannot go in.” “Ok, where do we get this sticker,” I asked. “The office is over there,” they said, and I said “Ok, let us go in.” “No, no, no you cannot go today. Come back on Monday.” So, we have to wait until Monday to go see our family?

At that moment we said, this is impossible. If they want to arrest me or kill me, they will kill me. If I have no freedom to go to my community, with my sister, with my brothers, there is a big problem. At last, an officer came out and asked what was happening. We explained, and only because we insisted, in the end, they allowed us to go in. This is the kind of control that the communities inside the plantations are facing each time they have to pass those gates.

WRM: Can you say something about the type of conflicts and impacts that communities affected by Okomu’s plantations are suffering?

Hajaratu Abdullahi: There is a community very close to our community, too. Sometime last year, during the mango season – there used to be lots of mangos, we collect them, take them to market, other fruits also, butter pear and so on – because the mangos are so few now, men and women – you can guess – started fighting. ‘It was me who collected it’, no it’s mine, not yours’, it happens like that now.

There’s another community where the plantations just entered. In this community, a lot of women are into farming. In this community, one woman had a very big, large Cocoa Plantation. The Management of Okomu Oil and the Nigerian army and police providing security for the company came into the plantation – that was the end of her plantation. She used to go to market every week and sell her produce. Now, nothing! Her daughter now looks for small things to hawk, cooks rice, she’s hawking small things like that. She was supposed to be a graduate by now, had to drop out of school.

In another village, Odigi, when the company people came, maybe they enticed the traditional rulers, they gave away their farms. Those people have just an acre to farm now, not even a hectare. An acre to farm, that’s all. They are going to the neighbouring community. The neighbouring community will tell them “You are not getting our land. You have given away your land. Our land already is not enough. This way, conflict between communities starts, even killings, one such case is now in court. You see, these are the sorts of challenges communities face when these plantations take over your land.

Another example. Women used to grow plantain. Taking plantain they cultivate in their farms to market, women can make at least 30-40,000 Naira from every market. So what happens when the land is gone to the plantations company? How much are you going to give to me? Shall I just eat today’s food and forget about tomorrow? Then I will not have land to plant for my children. What when we are no more? How will our children survive? Even pepper, ordinary pepper, this time of year it’s about 8,000/12,000 Naira at the market, but you have nothing to take to the market if you have no land to farm. We do not even have enough land to grow enough ordinary pepper! And if you don’t guard the small place you have very close to your house, another person will take it.

You see some old women suffering, they have nothing. So we start fetching firewood, walking far to get firewood to sell, so they have something to survive. I can give too many more examples like this. These are only some of the challenges we are facing. We have no freedom.

WRM: What about violence the company directs directly at women?

Hajaratu Abdullahi: They don’t even know if women exist. They don’t know if women exist, with protest or without protest. If we do a protest today, tomorrow they will bring out their own crowd, bring out their own story in the media. They will say “This is somebody else we want to ask”, and the person will say “Okomu is doing us well, Okomu is giving us this, they are giving us that.” This interference from Okomu, it causes a lot of conflict inside the community. That is why I told them to live wisely now. Because yesterday is gone, Today: live it wisely, Tomorrow: you don’t know whether you will get there or not. Maybe you have sold your rights yesterday, but today don’t sell your rights! Because now, our eyes are open. The people you are supposed to cry to – the government: they are our problem. You will be doing what you’re doing in your community but the government will be doing what they are doing above your heads. So can I fight the government alone? No!

WRM: How was Okumu able to obtain community land?

Hajaratu Abdullahi: There is no compensation for the distress these companies bring upon women. The company will invite the elders, the oldest men in the community to come for a meeting. When they go there, the company people will say “Baba, come, come, come. Just sign this paper.” One elder said “How am I going to sign? I cannot even read it, how can I sign. Because if I am ready to sign, I will have first read it. So I am not ready to sign, because my community is not aware of this. This invitation – you are inviting me to come and sign what? Then they call the Secretary “Secretary, you sign.” Luckily the Secretary also said, “What do you mean? I come and sign? Is the community aware of what you invited us here for?” They pushed them away.

Then they invited a different party, just two persons. They said, “Just don’t mind them, they are foolish. I will sign.” A woman from that village called me and said “These people, see what they are doing to our community. Somebody has gone to sign an agreement with the company.” I told her to call a meeting immediately, to make the community aware. The community came together and said that they are not supporting the agreement those people have signed. It was documented, so those who signed are on their own.

WRM: We learn in other places, for example in Sierra Leone that there is an increase of sexual violence that the women suffer directly from the company guards or the company workers. Is that the same in the case of Okomu in Nigeria? We know it is a very difficult issue, and that sometimes the women are not even saying it…

Hajaratu Abdullahi: Even if it happened to many of them, no one would talk. In our tradition, for a married woman to even be seen discussing petty things with a man, she will be in trouble. It’s not like that in all communities. But in the area where I am married to, you are not to stand with a man having irrelevant talks. So, in such a reality, something might be happening to a women, she will not talk. There are also so many cases where you want to bring them up before the police. But you will not see the beginning and the end of the case. So this the reason why you see people, when they have some certain problem, they hold it onto themselves. So that is the issue. Not that it doesn’t happen. It happens. But when it does, women keep it to themselves.

WRM: When you were a young girl, how was the community like?

Hajaratu Abdullahi: So different. When I was a young girl, at the age of 12, you could bath naked, play when it’s raining, you just roamed around.

WRM: And how was the place?

Hajaratu Abdullahi: The temperature was nice and cool. You go to the cocoa plantation, pick them. You come home and say ah, mami, this is what I want to eat. And if it was not at home, you could just go to the forest and field behind and pick what you needed. On the way, you could pick up some snails, pluck some leaf, like cocoa leaf; you grind it, and there’s a way you turn it into a soup. You can even take this groundnut without even putting it in fire – get the groundnut, grind it, add a little pepper, salt, make a dish called Cocoa Soup. Food was plenty. But nowadays, nowadays it’s not like that anymore.

(1) See WRM Bulletin 161 (2010): Oil palm in Nigeria: shifting from smallholders and women to mass production.

See also:
WRM Bulletin 233 (2017): SOCFIN’s plantations in Africa: many places of violence and destruction.
WRM Bulletin 199 (2014): Okomu Oil Palm Company – destroying communities for oil palm expansion.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Dekel Oil’s false promises lure villagers into dangerous oil palm growing contracts in Cote d’Ivoire

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 17:24

Land owners in Cote d’Ivoire are trapped in contracts with Dekel Oil, a company that made false promises arguing villagers would become rich by signing contracts to let oil palm monocultures on their land. Villagers are struggling to cancel the contracts and have started to alert other villagers on the risks of signing such contracts.

Cote d’Ivoire

Land owners find themselves trapped in contracts with Dekel Oil, a company in Cote d’Ivoire that made false promises arguing they would become rich by signing contracts to let Dekel Oil plant oil palm monocultures on their land. Villagers are struggling to get out of the contracts and have started to alert other villagers on the risks of signing such contracts.

Where oil palm plantation companies need to show community support for their plans to set up industrial plantations on community land, they use sophisticated tactics to make it appear as if communities or individual land owners agreed to the company plantations. This is particularly so where the company plans to grow oil palm on land that is not controlled by the state but where communities or individuals hold ownership of the land.

One such tactic is to make promises that community members or individual land owners find hard to reject. For example, company representatives may promise that they will build schools and health dispensaries, maintain roads, provide diesel generators, etc. to communities if they hand over their land to the growing of oil palm by the company. And that there will be many local jobs in the plantations. They may also claim that the company will only take a small portion of the land while in the end, most of the community land ends up under control of the oil palm company.

When companies try to entice individual land owners, they often claim that by signing up to the company’s oil palm production scheme, the land owner will become very rich. By using lies and false promises, villagers are seduced to sign contracts that trap them in long-term agreements with the company.

But once the contract is signed or the company can pretend to have community support, the promises are forgotten. No matter how sincere and convincing these promises sound when they are first made, companies will ignore them as soon as they have what they want: control over community or individual farmers’ land.

By using these false promises, companies often obtain control over hundreds, if not thousands, of hectares of land.

The case of Dekel Oil in Cote d’Ivoire is one such example where land owners find themselves trapped in contracts with the company that promised farmers “You will become very rich”, if they signed contracts to produce palm oil for Dekel Oil. Far from getting rich, they are now in a legal struggle to see the contracts cancelled and make sure they do not risk losing their land to the company altogether.

Dekel Oil is an agroindustrial company based in Cote d’Ivoire. The company produces palm oil for export; it started operations in 2007. Dekel Oil was set up by the Siva group and an Israeli conglomerate. (1) Siva Group is registered in Belgium and is owned by Indian billionaire Sivasankaran. The Group is involved in land grabbing of millions of hectares of land worldwide.

In the region of Aboisso, in the east of Cote d’Ivoire, Dekel Oil has secured control over a total of 28,886 hectares of land around the village of Ayanouan, which the company now uses to grow industrial oil palm plantations. Of this area, only 1,886 hectares are covered with oil palm plantations on land that the company directly controls through a land lease. The vast majority of the industrial plantations are grown on land owned by families who entered into smallholder contracts with Dekel Oil. In 2015, the company received a World Bank loan to further expand and take control of another 10,000 hectares of land for industrial oil palm plantations in Ayanouan region. (2)

Moreover, for the installation of its processing plant in 2014, the company also benefited with funds from the West African Development Bank and the EBID (Bank for Investment and Development of ECOWAS – Economic Community of West African States) (3)

Dekel Oil is also starting to take control of land for industrial oil palm plantations in the Guitry region, in the southern part of Cote d’Ivoire, as well as in the neighbouring country, Ghana. In Guitry, the company claims to have secured “rights” over 24,000 hectares of land.

The experience of the villagers from Ayenouan

Around 2010-2011, Dekel Oil technical staff started appearing in the villages in the Aboisso region, enticing villagers who owned land to sign contracts with the company. They proposed two types of contracts:

– One contract option involved the land owner handing over control of the land so Dekel Oil could set up industrial oil palm plantations under a so-called co-management agreement: Setting up of the plantations, management and the harvest from the plantations would be shared between the land owner and Dekel Oil. 1/3 of the profit would go to Dekel Oil to cover the maintenance costs; 1/3 would go as profit to Dekel Oil and the land owner would also receive 1/3 of the profit.

– The other contract option was a long-term lease of the land: Dekel Oil pays 38 euros (25,000CFA) per hectare per year, plus 12 per cent of the production which the owner can use as he wishes.

In both cases, the contract is initially for 20 to 40 years.

At the beginning, Dekel Oil assured villagers who signed the co-management contracts that they would have full control of the plantations during maintenance and harvest times. However, once they signed the contract, the company ignored this promise and cut out villagers from the business. Contrary to the promises, villagers are not informed when the company schedules the harvest. They are also not given documentation of the weight of the fruit bunches at harvest, and sometimes Dekel Oil picks up the fruit bunches from several villagers at the same time. When they are loaded on the same truck without the villagers present because they were not informed about the fruit bunches being picked up at this time, villagers depend entirely on company estimates about how much of the total production corresponds to their own production. Villagers also report that Dekel Oil decides how much to pay each villager without adequately informing or providing documentation to villagers about the weight of their harvest.

Company payments to villagers are also made with long delays. The company trucks pick up fruit bunches every fortnight. According to the contracts, Dekel Oil should pay on a monthly, or in some contracts, on a trimonthly basis. Land owners, however, report to be often waiting for six or even 12 months before receiving their payments.

False promises made by Dekel Oil

Like other oil palm plantation companies, Dekel Oil made big promises to tempt land owners into signing contracts with the company. Dekel Oil promised that it would help villagers willing to sign a contract to provide them with a credit so they could build a house for themselves Villagers said however that the houses ended up being more expensive than what the company had said and therefore they are not able to pay back.

They also exaggerated the production figures when presenting their contract deals to the villagers. When Dekel Oil technical staff arrived in the villages with their offers, they claimed that the plantations could be expected to produce around 12-18 tons per hectare and month. A recent report from the company (1) shows that the current annual yield from smallholders is between 6-10 tons per hectare and month – far below the 12-18 tons per hectare and month that the company initially promised to the villagers.

The false promise “You will become very rich”, with which Dekel Oil tempted villagers into signing the contracts was nurtured with these exaggerated growth projections. They promised that villagers would receive €13 (thirteen euros) per hectare each month – without making any effort. The message: ‘You can get rich just staying at home!’

But Dekel Oil did not present the full picture. They never said how expensive it was to set up and maintain these plantations. Once the contracts were signed and the palm trees planted, the situation changed. Villagers received very little money in return for handing over control of their land to Dekel Oil.

Some villagers even received nothing. In the Ehia village, in the sub prefecture of Krinjabo in Aboisso, villagers signed contracts totalizing 86 hectares of land with Dekel Oil. The company has already set up plantations and is harvesting oil palm nuts on 50 hectares, yet the villagers have not received any payment in return.

In light of the unfair situation and the impacts that villagers are suffering, a group of oil palm growers who had signed contracts with Dekel Oil decided to organize themselves. They created the “Collectif des planteurs de palmiers à huile” (Collective of oil palm producers) which aims to defend the rights of its members against Dekel Oil. The Collective also has begun to alert communities and villagers elsewhere where Dekel Oil is approaching farmers to sign contracts with the company on what happens after they had signed the contracts with Dekel Oil.

Dangerous contract clauses

One of the biggest concerns that the Collective is raising with villagers and local authorities is about some of the clauses included in the contracts. Article 6 of the Dekel Oil contract states that 6 months before the (20-40 year) contract ends, the company can request renewal of the agreement. If the villager does not object during a short period of time after being informed of the company’s request, the contract is automatically renewed.

It is important to remember that the contracts run for 20 to 40 years and that some villagers don’t know how to read or write. In this context, such a clause can easily lead to the company securing control over the land for much longer than the 20 or 40 years that the contracts initially last.

The Collective is alerting communities not to sign any contract with the company if they are not able to fully understand its consequences. Communities in Guitry, where Dekel Oil claims to already have secured 24,000 hectares but where to our knowledge, no contracts have yet been signed, should be on alert about the false promises that Dekel Oil will make to them and about the dire consequences of signing the contracts.

Article based on the presentation made by the Collectif des planteurs de palmiers à huile in Cote d’Ivoire during an international meeting in August 2018.

1 – https://www.grain.org/article/entries/5048-feeding-the-one-percent
2 – Latest Dekel Oil Investor Presentation. 18 September 2018.
3 – https://www.agenceecofin.com/palme/2308-22289-cote-d-ivoire-dekel-oil-lance-une-usine-de-transformation-d-huile-de-palme-a-ayenouan

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Ecuador: Peoples, communities and nature against oil palm

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 17:03

In Ecuador, the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations is the main cause of deforestation. A meeting to exchange knowledge, the first of its kind in Ecuador, brought together leaders from oil palm-affected provinces from the three regions of the country.

Full sessions of debate, reflection and resistance were held in the city of Quito, from October 9-13, 2018, within the framework of the Meeting: “Peoples, communities and nature against oil palm.” This exchange of knowledges is the first of its kind in Ecuador, and it brought together leaders from oil palm-affected provinces from the three regions of the country.

The expansion of industrial oil palm plantations is the main cause of deforestation in Ecuador. There are currently over 300,000 hectares of oil palm plantations nationwide; and 577,000 tons of palm oil are produced annually, of which 61% is exported.

Our country is not oblivious to the consequences of the agro-industrial accumulation model. There are numerous cases of violence, dispossession and contamination caused by the oil palm industry, with a marked trend towards impunity. Given this reality, peasant communities defending food sovereignty are saying “Enough!” And the need to initiate a series of actions to defend the rights of humans and nature being overrun by the palm industry is emerging from different areas of civil society.

This collective effort of reflection gave birth to the NETWORK of Sovereign Peoples Against Oil Palm, from which the following declaration emerged:

“Declaration of the First Meeting:
Peoples, communities and nature against oil palm

In the presence of national and international institutions and organizations, in this first meeting, the peoples and communities of Ecuador have verified countless rights violations associated with the oil palm agroindustry in Ecuador.

Palm companies impose a system based on the destruction of forests, and they place peasants, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities in precarious conditions.

The oil palm agroindustry wants fields on which to: install its large plantations based on the intensive use of agrotoxics; rob peasants of the land; and appropriate all the water sources or contaminate them through their irresponsible and hoarding use. It wants all of this to obtain raw materials for ultra-processed, low-quality food products, industrial products and agrofuels.

Taking into account the violations of the rights of nature, in this first meeting, the peoples and communities denounce what is happening in Ecuador:

– The expansion of oil palm plantations is the biggest cause of deforestation of primary forests and jungles in Ecuador and other countries in Latin America; currently, the mega-diverse Chocó Forest is on the verge of disappearing due to this activity—which violates the rights of nature.

– Oil palm plantations have caused community division and the fragmentation of ancestral indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and peasant territories, affecting the logics of life.

– In many cases, oil palm plantations have expanded onto territories through mechanisms that include the eviction of communities and the fraudulent purchase and sale of land—along with violence, hired killers and assassinations.

– Oil palm plantations promote the concentration of land ownership, which is linked to the hoarding of water, the use of industrial seeds, state incentives, commercialization and markets.

– This problem affects over 400,000 hectares in Ecuador, where not all areas are included in official figures.

– This expansion of palm is threatening food sovereignty and the human right to food, by reducing the area of peasants’ diversified crops.

– Together with the National Finance Corporation, palm companies have promoted production chains that rob peasants of land, through the use of debt mechanisms.

– The local peasant economy is destroyed where plantations are installed, turning the population into a proletariat that becomes dependent on large capital—which seeks to exploit, and has high rates of labor exploitation.

– Oil palm goes hand in hand with the heavy use of agrotoxics to eliminate remaining native species that comprise the forests. It also involves a pollution phase when the oil is extracted, which destroys the life of rivers and other bodies of water around the plantations.

– This destruction of aquatic life in rivers and estuaries ends up harming an important source of food for communities: fishing.

– Water pollution causes serious skin diseases, cancer, spontaneous abortions and in general, increased death rates in communities that are near plantations or downstream from them.

– The increased consumption of this industrial palm oil, loaded with agrotoxins, has resulted in a dramatic increase in several diseases, primarily in the most impoverished sectors.

– The environmental destruction that oil palm generates is tied to other drivers of dispossession, such as: mining, oil, etc.

– Oil palm plantations go hand in hand with the expansion of major road infrastructure, such as the Manta-Manaos Corridor.

– The intensive use of agrotoxics, along with the impacts related to oil palm plantations, has deepened the Palm Rot crisis—thus unfolding a huge toxic spiral that threatens the health of the environment, workers and communities.

– The authorities which should be monitoring oil palm plantations, such as the Ministry of the Environment, the MAG [Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock] or SENAGUA [National Water Secretariat], have neglected their functions, and have not responded to the problem.

– We denounce that there is no access to justice, since big business groups that grow palm bribe the judicial system.

– We denounce that the RSPO, through the certification it grants to palm oil companies, legitimizes the expansion of palm plantations, the violation of local communities’ rights and the destruction of ecosystems.

– Faced with this reality, indigenous and peasant peoples who are defending our relationship with nature, have the duty and collective and historical right to recover, strengthen and maintain the care and protection of our ways of life, our knowledges and own rights, our autonomy, our traditional peasant agriculture and our food sovereignty.

Faced with this situation of rights violations, affected communities and peoples have together formed the NETWORK of Sovereign Peoples Against Oil Palm, and we propose solutions that should be mandatory for the State and Ecuadorian society:

– It is vital to recover and protect rivers, so that we can safely drink water; and to recover the flora and fauna on which communities depend for life, for recreation, for daily activities and for their cultural symbolism.

– Palm oil companies must assume their economic and social responsibilities for the damages caused, and undertake an integral reparations process for the population as well as nature restoration.

– The legal system must be independent of the pressures of large companies, in order to enforce the law and the rights of communities.

– It should be State policy to ensure work and access to land in Ecuador, to keep younger people from migrating to the cities due to lack of alternatives in the countryside.

– We demand that priority be given to supporting small-scale peasant agriculture, which feeds our peoples and is responsible for production for local consumption; as opposed to plantations which are focused on exportation.

– There is an opportunity to transition oil palm territories towards diversified production systems—such as organic national cacao—which have greater yields and cause less environmental destruction. This requires support for the small-scale peasantry.

– The current authorities must reverse this situation. These resolutions will be delivered to the President of the Republic, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of the Environment, so that they take action and cease to promote oil palm.

– We demand that the Ministry of Environment carry out the necessary controls to avoid the substitution of native forests with palm, and the contamination caused by oil palm plantations and oil extractors.

– We demand that the National Finance Corporation, the National Development Bank and other credit institutions coordinate with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries, to NOT grant loans for projects that cause deforestation, social conflicts or rights violations.

As long as our rights as communities are violated, we proclaim peoples’ right to resist the admission of oil palm onto communal and peasant territories.

– The organizations gathered here will be monitoring the lands under oil palm cultivation, in order to demand official statistics and a truthful count adjusted to reflect the reality.

– We commit to following up on this meeting by strengthening our organizations and networks, through the development of discussion spaces and actions against the expansion of palm cultivation; as well as the intensification of our resistance and struggles at the local, national and international levels. Today we come together to form a network of social and peasant organizations against palm cultivation.

– In regard to the facts reported here on rights violations, as well as these proposals, we will also seek international justice, and the solidarity of social organizations around the world.

Quito, October 11, 2018″

Alex Naranjo, Food Sovereignty Campaign, Acción Ecológica, verdevegetal@yahoo.com

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Gabon: OLAM’s industrial oil palm plantations deprive community of Sanga of access to safe water

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:56

The expansion of industrial oil palm plantations by OLAM hit the village of Sanga in the South of Gabon particularly hard: The community’s main water source became so polluted that the water is now unsafe for drinking and not suitable for other daily uses.

Sanga, Gabón. Ph: WRM.

The expansion of industrial oil palm plantations hit the village of Sanga in the South of Gabon particularly hard: The community’s main water source became so polluted that the water is now unsafe for drinking and not suitable for other daily uses. Pollution of water, however, is only one of the impacts that the plantations managed by the Singapore-based company OLAM, and co-owned by the government of Gabon are causing.

In September 2018, 35 women and men from communities affected by the industrial oil palm plantations managed by the Singapore-based food company OLAM came together in Mouila, in the South of Gabon. Several national and international organisations and activists joined the meeting where villagers freely shared their communities’ experience with OLAM´s large-scale oil palm plantations. They analyzed the strategies the company uses to promote industrial oil palm plantations and obtain access to community land. They also discussed the fundamental role of women in the resistance against industrial plantations and discussed actions to strengthen their resistance against OLAM’s plantations and the company’s expansion strategy as they see this resistance key to defending community livelihoods, especially for future generations.

Water pollution in Sanga

Part of the workshop agenda was a field visit to the villages of Mbadi, Sangha, and Mounigou, three villages that are severely affected by OLAM’s industrial plantations. The situation in Sanga village is particularly critical. This village was recently built on land used by the community people for generations. The village was set up with the aim of putting a halt on the uncontrolled advance of the large-scale expansion of oil palm plantations by OLAM in the area. In spite of their resistance, the monocultures had advanced up close to the houses – about 200 meters – to, almost fencing in the village. With the plantations creeping up so closely, the dangerous and toxic pesticides, intensively used inside these plantations, also are applied dangerously close to the village.

According to Dieudonné Moukétou-Tarazewicz, graduated in Physical Geography and founder of the local NGO Muyissi Environnement: «  monocultures favour the cultivation of one single species over others which leads to an environmental imbalance among plant and insect populations. Some species disappear and more powerful pests appear, because with prolonged use of pesticides insects create resistance. And this requires higher doses of pesticides. An aggravating factor is that these compounds are bioaccumulative, that means they accumulate gradually in the food chain and are neither eliminated nor dissolved over time. They are not biodegradable, in other words, they are resistant to biological degradation, in addition to being resistant to chemical and photolytic degradation, i.e. degradation to light. Therefore, even at low concentrations, they seriously affect the balance of the ecosystem.»

Sanga is facing a very severe situation now because the main water source of the village, located at about 50 meters from the houses at one side of the road, has become polluted as a consequence of the plantations encroaching. To address the villagers’ complaints, OLAM constructed another well. As is often the case with such wells and bore holes constructed by plantation companies, this one, too, was not maintained well by the company and, moreover, is also located in close proximity to the polluted water source, which is fed by the same contaminated water table than the community’s main water source that is now no longer fit for use.

Besides the aforementioned risk of pesticide contamination, water sources located close to monoculture plantations are at risk for another contamination: chemical fertilizers. Mr. Moukétou-Tarazewicz explains: “When used excessively and with poor planning, fertilizers can also pollute the surface water of rivers, lakes and wells, causing damage to the ecosystem. In fact, in general, these compounds are soluble in water.” He adds that these compounds, once they enter water, also become nutrients for algae: “With runoff rainwater, these products are deposited in rivers, lakes and wells, causing a proliferation of algae in a proportion higher than normal. This hinders the penetration of light and the oxygenation of water. This situation becomes worse when these algae die, because they release a lot of rest matter that is degraded by aerobic microorganisms.”

The main water source on which the villagers of Sangha depend shows this phenomenon described by Mr. Moukétou-Tarazewicz. During the field visit, he took water samples and has since carried out preliminary tests: “Preliminary analysis of parameters such as hydrogen ions and dissolved oxygen performed in situ showed that pH, turbidity, and dissolved solids were within the resolution range, which is not the case for Dissolved Oxygen (DO), revealing a high organic matter content of the water. For the other parameters concerned, a further analysis of the samples taken is needed to assess whether the authorized limit for Class II waters (WHO, 2004) has been reached and which may have adverse effects on human health.”

Parameters analyzed Results P1 / P2 Norms (WHO) Conductivity (μS/cm) P1=0558 / P2=0690 2000 Dissolved Oxygen (%) P1=36.9 / P2=127.4 ≥ pH () P1=7.16 / P2=8.72 6,5 – 8,5 Temperature (T °) P1=26.5 / P2=27.18 – Turbidity (NTU) P1=032.9 / P2=008.8 ˂ Salinityy (mg/l) P1=0558 / P2=0690 1000 TDS P1=0361 / P2=0449 –

 

Results of the preliminary analysis of the multi-parameter sonde

The preliminary analysis clearly shows that the water is not safe for consumption. The results explain why people fell ill from drinking this contaminated water. Yet, despite the health risk, it is the only source of water available as there is no other source near-by. Villagers who relayed the accounts of people who had fallen ill, report incidents of OLAM employees denying people who had fallen ill and on their way to the nearest health facility a lift in their cars.

An open letter to OLAM

Hearing the testimonies from villagers, meeting participants decided to write an open letter to OLAM (you can access the letter in French here). In the letter, participants demand that OLAM urgently resolve the water problem in Sanga. They also demand that OLAM improve the treatment of workers and the poor working conditions in general. Workers spoke about the lack of Individual Protection Equipment that can reduce the impact on the worker’s health when applying pesticides. They also raised the issue of being paid low salaries which are dependend of workers achieving daily quotas in their tasks that are extremely onerous. The letter also demands clarification from OLAM about the information from the community of Mbadi that the company intends to create a park for ecoturism. Meeting participants heard that the community is opposed to this development because the forest area is fundamental for their livelihoods.

Communities reinforcing their own unity

The workshop held in Mouila showed the multiple impacts that large-scale oil palm plantations have on communities. The workshop also revealed OLAM´s strategy to prevent the creation of spaces where communities can collectively express and discuss these impacts and other issues of concern.

Part of this strategy are community committees that OLAM is creating in each village. These committees do not operate on any legal basis. The committees are the place for so-called “dialogue” between communities and OLAM. The topics which can be addressed in this “dialogue”, however are restricted to the contents of the “social contracts” that the company signed with each community. These contracts essentially consist of a list of “benefits” the company agreed it would provide and / or concede to the communities. Examples are solar panels to illuminate a single lamp outside each community house; a health post and/or a water pump; a sports place; lodging for professors teaching at the local elementary school. Villagers expressed their dissatisfaction because the committees are dominated by OLAM and state representatives and are not really functioning as a space for meaningful dialogue; the implementation of the contracts they are supposed to discuss are vague and do not contain timelines, nor do they spell out how the promised delivery will be done in practice or how structures will be maintained. What’s more, OLAM decreed at the outset that the community committees have no mandate to discuss the issues of most concern to communities: the on-going expansion of the OLAM’s plantations, as well as other plans by OLAM to control more land like the creation of additional protected areas and sites for ecotourism. Without any “dialogue”, let alone consent from communities over this crucial issue of OLAM expanding its control over community land, the company continues to take over land and forests that communities use and depend on.

OLAM requested to be invited to the recent community meetings in Mouilla. Rather than use its daily presence in the region to seek meaningful exchanges with villagers, the company engaged in what was a blatant attempt to interfere with communities exercising their right to come together and freely discuss the problems they face with OLAM´s activities.

Villagers defied the brazen attempt, came together and decided that the best response to OLAM’s divisive tactics is to reinforce their own unity. They formulated a number of ideas and plans to strengthen their organisation and resistance against the advance of the plantations. They also discussed ways to improve their livelihoods, always based on the principle of diversification of economic activities in order the secure the physical and cultural survival of their communities.

The village participants made it clear that promoting monoculture is not the way forward for the region of Mouila. It only results in one single corporation increasing its control over land and forests and pocketing the benefits while communities face the costs of being fenced in by industrial oil palm plantations. What is needed, instead is that the fundamental right of communities to make a livelihood and decide over the use of the land they have lived on for generations be respected, now and in the future.

WRM and Muyissi Environnement

Categories: E1. Indigenous

The Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Dam collapse in Lao PDR: Will the Mekong region learn from this?

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:50

The government of Lao PDR has decided to establish the country as “the battery of Asia” by developing major hydropower dams along the Mekong River. The recent collapse of the Xe Pian -Xe Namnoy dam, however, which flooded numerous villages and generated high death tolls, accentuated once again the many risks of such projects.

Lao. Ph: Reuters.

With nearly 40 per cent of the total volume of the Mekong River in the country, the government of Lao PDR has decided to establish the country as “the battery of Asia” by developing a series of major hydropower dams along the Mekong River, with a view toward exporting surplus power to neighbouring countries. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are key influential players that have since the beginning backed up the neoliberal policies for dam development in Laos.

Increasingly, the flow and interconnection of ecological live spaces and cycles as well as ancient local economies and cultural heritages are being blocked and diverted by dams. This has created already in many cases irreparable damage.

Currently, 46 hydropower plants are in operation in Laos and over 50 plants are under construction across the country with an expected completion by 2020. The plan is to export some 85 per cent of the power production in the country, mainly to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. (1)

This hydropower “development”, however, is facing increasing criticisms. The river is not only a problem for Laotian people but also for all the people in neighbouring countries, sharing its waters and currents. At the regional level, the impoundment of the Mekong and its tributary rivers will significantly reduce wild caught fishery production, vital for local livelihoods throughout the Lower Mekong Basin. Moreover, changes in the hydrological flows are expected to increase flooding, disrupt agro-ecological systems dependent on regular flood-pulse cycles, and impede silt that provides nutrients for agricultural production in Laos and downstream countries. The dams, moreover, run the risk of reducing the volume of water flowing from the upper Mekong and causing significant losses to farmers engaged in agriculture on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. These projects may well cause serious disputes over water between Laos and the lower-Mekong countries. (2)

An account of the environmental and social impacts of dam projects in Laos showed how these projects led to the migration of people, from dozens to thousands, who lost their livelihoods and cultures and were then forced to earn a living in new trades completely strange to them. (3) Adding to this, the recent collapse of the Xe Pian -Xe Namnoy Hydropower dam in Southern Laos, which flooded numerous villages and generated high death tolls, accentuated the many other risks of such projects.

The Xe Pian – Xe Namnoy dam: who is behind?

Located in southern Laos, on the Bolaven plateau, the Xe Pian – Xe Namnoy Hydropower dam was built on the rivers that flow to Sekong, one of the major tributaries of the Mekong River. The project dates back to June 1993, when the Thai and Laotian governments signed a memorandum of understanding on the trade of 1.5 million kilowatts (kW) of electricity. The following year, Dong-A E&C, a Korean company, signed a contract with the Laotian government to develop a hydropower plant, with a total investment of US 498.41 million dollars.

The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance (MOSF) provided part of the required financial resources to its Economic Development and Cooperation Fund (EDCF) for developing the dam. The Dong-A Group, however, went bankrupt in May 1998, shortly after the outbreak of the Asian Financial Crisis, and its subsidiary, Dong-A E&C, also filed for bankruptcy in November 2000. This left the dam project in an indefinite halt.

The project resurfaced when SK Engineering & Construction, another Korean company, and Korean Western Power Company (KWPC) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Laotian government in 2006 to resume the project. In 2011, the Laotian government applied for financial aid from Korea’s cooperation fund EDCF. The MOSF and its Laotian counterpart signed an agreement shortly afterwards. (4)

Besides South Korea’s investment, the Thai Ayudhya Public Company Bank also co-financed this joint venture. The Bank is currently under the umbrella of Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). Also, Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) owns shares worth around a billion and a half yen (approximately 14 million US dollars) of the Krungthai Bank, another Thai co-financer of the joint venture, as well as credits worth over 6 billion yen (approximately 59 million US dollars) of the Export-Import Bank of Korea, which finances the Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE), which created the joint venture. (5)

The consortium advertised that the hydropower dam, capable of 410 MW of electricity after completion, would generate handsome profits for the next 27 years by exporting its product to the Thai Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding power company. The ads, however, avoid mentioning that indigenous people were forced again to leave their livelihoods as well as the many social and environmental risks that such a dam holds.

The silenced impacts

The indigenous Nyaheun people, who populated the area to be flooded by the Xe Pian -Xe Namnoy Dam Project, used to be self-sufficient; harvesting enough rice from their land, while the nearby river and forests also provided them with food and water.

However, shortly after the dam project contract was signed, they were forced to migrate to the mountainous region, leaving their generations-back fishing livelihoods behind and obliged to harvest coffee. The mountainous region, however, was home to another native ethnic group known as the Jhru. The Jhru and the Nyaheun had historically been on unfriendly terms with each other. The Nyaheun migration into the Jhru area meant a decrease in available drinking water as well as damage to the fertility of local soil, which resulted in reduced harvests and the necessity to use fertilizers. Migration has drastically compromised the quality of life for both groups. (6)

When Dong-A E&C’s project failed two decades ago, the Nyaheun began to return to their home villages. However, when the construction resumed, they were again forced to leave.

Moreover, Cambodian villages around the lower Mekong, for example, already experienced abrupt changes in water volumes, rapid decreases and changes in the amounts and species of fish available for fishing, and the dramatic change in the way of life (including the necessary fixings on the structures of houses in response to sudden changes in water volumes) at the time the report was being written. These villagers have been experiencing such rapid changes all in the last decade since the construction of the dam was commenced in full force. Even more worrisome is the fact that these environmental changes have translated into an increasing detriment of food sovereignty.

A disaster, but not a natural disaster” (7)

While being under construction, on July 23, the top of a saddle dam installed at one of the reservoirs of the Xe-Pian – Xe-Namnoy hydropower project collapsed, releasing a massive amount of water. As a result, six villages located downstream were inundated, while 13 other villages were also affected by severe flooding. As this dam construction was under a transboundary tributary of the Mekong River, the heavy flow of water also reached into Cambodia, causing damage to boarder communities in the Stung Treng Province. (8). The tragedy caused more than 30 people being dead, hundreds of missing people and uncountable loss of households and livelihoods.

After the dam collapse, the government of Laos announced all new proposed dams would be halted pending a review of all existing hydropower facilities. Yet, the day after this announcement, it initiated the prior consultation process on a new, highly controversial Mekong mainstream project — the Pak Lay dam. (9)

The bottom line is that mega dams are not new to controversy and environmental and social disasters, so why do dam-building plans in the Mekong River and elsewhere continue despite urgent calls to prevent their detrimental impacts?

Article based on information from:
(1) Mekong Eye, Laos expects to have 100 hydropower plants by 2020, July 2017.
(2) Green W. and Baird, I (2016) Capitalizing on Compensation: Hydropower resettlement and the commodification and decommodification of nature-society relations in Southern Laos, Annals of the American Association of Geographers.
(3) International Rivers, Power Surge: The Impacts of Rapid Dam Development in Laos, 2008.
(4) South Korean Presence on the Mekong Hydropower Development Market: Current Status and Issues, LEE Kangjun (Director, Energy and Climate Policy Institute)
(5) Mekong Watch, Grave damage caused by dam collapse in southern Laos, July, 2018.
(6) Idem (4)
(7) Mekong Watch statement.
(8) Idem 5
(9) New Delhi Times, Water Experts Question World Bank’s role in Laos Dam, October 2018.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

New step towards a Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Humans Rights

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:43

The fourth Session of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) of the United Nations Human Rights Council was held in Geneva from the 15th to 19th of October. Violations of human rights and the rights of peoples and nature have become inherent to transnational corporations operations. But at the international level there is no binding rule for corporations on Human Rights. For this reason, this WG has been created to elaborate a meaningful binding treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with respect to the violation of Human Rights.

The Global Campaign to reclaim peoples’ sovereignty, dismantle corporate power and stop impunity (Global Campaign), an international network integrated of hundreds of social organizations and movements, actively participated in this fourth session.  The Global Campaign has been committed from the beginning of this process, not only with the creation of the mandate of the Working Group for it to elaborate a binding treaty with respect to the TNCs and their follow-up, but also with the elaboration of a draft Treaty that was presented last year to this WG as a way to contribute to the construction of the definitive Treaty on TNCs and Human Rights at the United Nations Organization. Please see here.

We share here the Declaration of the Global Campaign for the closing of this 4th session of the Working Group, which highlights some key elements for the elaboration of a meaningful instrument that allows those affected to have access to effective justice. See here.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Court orders chilean company, Arauco, to return land to the Mapuche community

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:41

On September 28, the Chilean courts ruled in favor of the Ignacio Huilipán community, located in the Contulmo Commune, Bío Bío region. The ruling forces the company, Forestal Arauco (formerly Forestal Celco SA), to restitute 97 hectares of land that were usurped decades ago in order to expand its tree plantations. The court charged Arauco with having tried to prove ownership of the land in bad faith, and it recognized the “Merced Title”* from 1904 that the community claimed. See here.

Forestal Arauco made no statement regarding the usurpation of lands; it just filed an appeal against the order that decrees payment for the cost of the trial and the consequent claim for compensation for the impacts caused in the community over the last decades. See here.

(*) Property titles that the state delivered to Mapuche communities between 1884 and 1929.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Press release: Organizations Denounce the RSPO for Greenwashing the Oil Palm Industry’s Destruction and Violence

World Rainforest Movement - Sun, 11/11/2018 - 15:40

(November 12, 2018) Press release: Organizations Denounce the RSPO for Greenwashing the Oil Palm Industry’s Destruction and Violence

 

On November 12, with the endorsement of organizations from five continents, Friends of the Earth International and World Rainforest Movement publish an open statement denouncing the failure of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to eliminate the violence and destruction that oil palm plantations cause in the territories where they are established.

This statement is made public internationally before the start of the RSPO Annual Conference, taking place in Sabah, Malaysia from November 12-15.

RSPO presents itself to the public with the slogan “transforming the markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm”. Nonetheless, since its inception 14 years ago, RSPO the has been a tool that served the corporate interests of the oil palm sector. The RSPO certification scheme allows the oil palm industry to expand while greenwashing the destruction and human rights violations it is responsible for.

Palm oil has become the cheapest vegetable oil available on the world market, making it the preferred choice for the group that controls RSPO membership: the big buyers of palm oil. “They will do everything to secure a steady flow of cheap palm oil ,” the statement warns.

The key to the corporate success story of producing “cheap” palm oil is a particular model of industrial production, with ever-increasing efficiency and productivity which in turn is achieved by: (1) planting on a large-scale and in monoculture, frequently through conversion of tropical biodiverse forests; (2) using “high yielding” seedlings that demand large amounts of agrotoxics and abundant water; (3) squeezing cheap labour out of the smallest possible work force, (4) making significant up-front money from the tropical timber extracted from concessions, which is then used to finance plantation development or increase corporate profits; (5) grabbing land violently from local communities or by means of other arrangements with governments (including favourable tax regimes) to access land at the lowest possible cost.

Those living on the fertile land that the corporations choose to apply their industrial palm oil production model, pay a very high price. Violence is intrinsic to this model: violence and repression when communities resist the corporate take-over of their land, sexual violence and harassment against women in and around the plantations, child labour and precarious working conditions that go hand-in-hand with violation of workers’ rights, exposure to excessive agrotoxin application and loss of communities’ food sovereignty.

RSPO’s proclaimed vision of transforming the industrial oil palm sector is doomed to fail because the Roundtable’s certification principles promote this structural violent and destructive model. And whereas the RSPO raises a smokescreen hiding this violence from consumers and financiers, governments often do not take measures to stop the expansion of plantations and the growing demand for palm oil—because they assume the RSPO will offer a seeming guarantee of sustainability.

“Voluntary certification schemes cannot provide adequate protection for forests, community rights, food sovereignty and guarantee sustainability. Governments and financiers need to take responsibility to stop the destructive palm oil expansion that violates the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples“, the statement concludes.

Read and download the complete statement here.

Contacts:

Friends of the Earth International
Contact Person: Isaac Rojas (isaac@coecoceiba.org // isaac@foei.org), Phone: +50683383204

World Rainforest Movement
Contact Person: Elizabeth Díaz (lizzie@wrm.org.uy) Phone: +598 9272 5656

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Letter from the Collective of Women affected by monoculture oil palm from Gabon to FAO

World Rainforest Movement - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 09:43

Within the framework of September 21, International day of Struggle against Monoculture Tree Plantations, women affected by OLAM’s oil palm plantations, during a meeting in the village of Fera, in Gabon, decided to send a letter to FAO denouncing the impacts they are suffering.

The Collective of Women affected by monoculture oil palm tree plantations alert about the impacts of such plantations on food security and food production. The women criticize FAO´s policy in support of the expansion of industrial monocultures of oil palm because it severely affects food security and therefore it is in clear contradiction with FAO´s mandate of combating hunger in the world.

Moreover, the women report in their letter that the forest destruction caused by industrial oil palm plantations affects them and their traditional knowledge about and multiple uses of forests in particular.

Read the full letter here. (In French)

Categories: E1. Indigenous

We Were There to Protect the Water

Water Protector Legal Collective - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 08:44

At 19 years old, Dion Ortiz left his birthplace of San Felipe Pueblo for Denver. His basic plan was to escape the bad habits he’d picked up. After a few months, he landed a construction job, but didn’t see much else on the horizon. Before he could settle in during the summer of 2016, his Read More

The post We Were There to Protect the Water appeared first on Water Protector Legal Collective.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Press Release: Water Protector Wins Appeal at North Dakota Supreme Court

Water Protector Legal Collective - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 06:47

Mere Presence at Railroad Tracks Is Not Tampering With a Public Service: State Felony Conviction Reversed Rebecca Jessee (center) at her trial in ND District Court in Morton County Mandan, ND: Yesterday, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Water Protector Rebecca Jessee, reversing her lower court conviction arising out of a November Read More

The post Press Release: Water Protector Wins Appeal at North Dakota Supreme Court appeared first on Water Protector Legal Collective.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

DRC communities file complaint with German development bank to resolve century-old land conflict with palm oil company

World Rainforest Movement - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 17:33

RIAO-RDC, GRAIN, FIAN Germany, urgewald, WRM, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, CNCD-11.11.11, FIAN Belgium, SOS Faim, Oxfam Solidarité/teit, Entraide et Fraternité, AEFJN (Belgium), The Corner House (UK), Global Legal Action Network | 7 November 2018

DRC communities file complaint with German development bank to resolve century-old land conflict with palm oil company

(7 November 2018) – Nine communities from the DR Congo took a historic step this week by filing a complaint with the complaints mechanism* of the German development bank (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft – DEG). The communities of the DR Congo want a resolution to a land conflict that dates back to the Belgian colonial period with a palm oil company that is currently being financed by a consortium of European development banks led by DEG.

In 1911, the Belgian colonial administration unilaterally awarded Lord Leverhulme of Britain a massive one-million-hectare land concession covering the territories of these communities and many others. Leverhulme, with the support of the Belgian army, used forced labour and violent repression to extract palm oil from the forests for his Sunlight soap factories in the UK and eventually erected several oil palm plantations within the concession area that would come to be owned and operated by the multinational food giant Unilever. In 2009, Unilever sold its DRC oil palm plantation subsidiary, Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC), along with a set of contested concession contracts totalling over 100,000 hectares, to a Canadian company with no previous experience with plantations– Feronia Inc.

The nine communities filed their complaint with the DEG’s complaints mechanism on Monday, November 5, 2018. They say that the illegal theft of their traditional lands and forests has deprived them of the means to feed and house their families and earn their livelihoods. Some of the people from the communities work on the plantations, but the vast majority of jobs are as day labourers where wages are below the costs of living. Poverty and malnutrition within the communities are rampant and severe, and the communities say that conditions have worsened since Feronia took over the plantations from Unilever.

Over the years, the communities within the concessions claimed by PHC have sought to regain control over their lands and have called for negotiations with the company and government authorities to determine the conditions under which the company may be allowed to continue to operate. These communities have issued multiple letters, memos and declarations that have been addressed to or have been sent to government authorities, company representatives and the development banks financing Feronia and PHC.

In full knowledge of this on-going legacy land issue, the DEG and other development banks from the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the US have, since 2013, provided Feronia Inc and its subsidiary PHC with upwards of US$180 million in financial assistance. The development funds of the UK, Spain, France and the US directly or indirectly hold shares of Feronia Inc while PHC has received US$ 49 million in loans from a consortium of lenders led by DEG that includes the development banks of Belgium and the Netherlands. Considering their significant involvement and the direct link between denied access to land and hunger and poverty in the communities, development banks have a responsibility for ongoing abuses of human rights and the failure to resolve the conflicts that the two companies are embroiled in.

The nine communities have filed this complaint with the DEG’s complaints mechanism in the hopes that the consortium of lenders led by DEG, will finally force the company into a dispute resolution and mediation process with the communities that resolves the land conflict by defining the area of land on which PHC can operate and the conditions under which it may do so. All development banks have justified their investment in Feronia or PHC with their mandate to support development in Africa, which, in this case, cannot be achieved without a resolution of the land conflict.

The nine communities are being represented by the Congolese NGO RIAO-RDC, and are supported by an alliance of international organisations and NGOs from countries with development banks involved in financing Feronia. These organisations are listed at the bottom of this communiqué.

RIAO-RDC and its international partners want to see a fair and urgent resolution of this land conflict. This is a test case to see if the complaints mechanisms established by the development banks can indeed address the concerns raised by communities affected by the agribusiness operations of companies financed by the DEG and other development banks. It will also set a precedent when it comes to legacy land issues. The DEG and the UK’s CDC, which is more heavily invested in Feronia than any other development bank, recently established a policy to guide how their clients should deal with such legacy land issues. We will be watching closely to see if this policy is more than just words.

Please see the accompanying background document for more information: https://farmlandgrab.org/28543

* The complaints mechanism is a joint initiative of the DEG and the Dutch development bank FMO. Since July 2018, the French Development Finance Institution Proparco has also joined the Mechanism. All have provided funding to Feronia Inc’s DRC plantation operations.

Media contacts:

Jean-François Mombia Atuku, RIAO-RDC (Senegal) – FRENCH

Tel: +221 77 346 96 21

Email: jfmombia.at16@gmail.com

Sophie Rebours, CCFD-Terre Solidaire — FRENCH

Tel : +33 1 44 82 80 64 / +33 7 61 37 38 65

Email: s.rebours@ccfd-terresolidaire.org

Stéphane Desgain CNCD-11.11.11 – FRENCH

Tel : +32.475.76.90.61

Tel : +32.2.250.12.64

Email: stephane.desgain@cncd.be

Devlin Kuyek, GRAIN (Canada) – ENGLISH, FRENCH

Tel: +1-514-571-7702

Email: devlin@grain.org

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Sign the statement! RSPO: 14 years failing to eliminate violence and destruction from the industrial palm oil sector

World Rainforest Movement - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 08:55

We invite organizations to sign on and support the statement, which denounces that the RSPO, since it was created 14 years ago, has been a tool that served the corporate interests of the oil palm sector.

Dear friends and colleagues,

In light of the upcoming Annual Conference of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Friends of the Earth International and the World Rainforest Movement are launching an open statement.

We invite organizations to sign on and support the statement (see below), which denounces that the RSPO, since it was created 14 years ago, has been a tool that served the corporate interests of the oil palm sector. The RSPO certification scheme allows the oil palm industry to expand while greenwashing the destruction and human rights violations it is responsible for.

We invite organizations from all over the world to sign on until November 9, 2018.

The statement can be read and signed here:

RSPO: 14 years failing to eliminate violence and destruction from the industrial palm oil sector (please, only organizations or groups) Read the petition First Name Last Name Email ORGANIZATION

RSPO: 14 years of failure to eliminate violence and destruction from the industrial palm oil sector

During its 14 years of existence, RSPO – the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – has failed to live up to its claim of “transforming” the industrial palm oil production sector into a so-called “sustainable” one. In reality, the RSPO has been used by the palm oil industry to greenwash corporate destruction and human rights abuses, while it continues to expand business, forest destruction and profits.

RSPO presents itself to the public with the slogan “transforming the markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm”. Palm oil has become the cheapest vegetable oil available on the global market, making it a popular choice among the group that dominates RSPO membership, big palm oil buyers. They will do everything to secure a steady flow of cheap palm oil. They also know that the key to the corporate success story of producing “cheap” palm oil is a particular model of industrial production: Ever-increasing efficiency and productivity which in turn is achieved by: (1) planting on a large-scale and in monoculture, frequently through conversion of tropical biodiverse forests; (2) using “high yielding” seedlings that demand large amounts of agrotoxics and abundant water; (3) squeezing cheap labour out of the smallest possible work force, employed in precarious conditions so that company costs are cut to a minimum; (4) making significant up-front money from the tropical timber extracted from concessions, which is then used to finance plantation development or increase corporate profits; (5) grabbing land violently from local communities or by means of other arrangements with governments (including favourable tax regimes) to access land at the lowest possible cost.

Those living on the fertile land that the corporations choose to apply their industrial palm oil production model, pay a very high price. Violence is intrinsic to this model:

- violence and repression when communities resist the corporate take-over of their land because they know that once their land is turned into monoculture oil palm plantations, their livelihoods will be destroyed, their land and forests invaded. In countless cases, deforestation caused by the expansion of this industry, has displaced communities or destroyed community livelihoods where companies violate customary rights and take control of community land;
- sexual violence and harassment against women in and around the plantations which often stays invisible because women find themselves without possibilities to demand that the perpetrators be prosecuted;
- child labour and precarious working conditions that go hand-in-hand with violation of workers’ rights; working conditions can even be so bad as to amount to contemporary forms of slavery. This exploitative model of work grants companies more economic profits while allowing palm oil to remain a cheap product. That is why, neither them or their shareholders do anything to stop it
- exposure of workers, entire communities and forests, rivers, water springs, agricultural land and soils to the excessive application of agrotoxics;
- depriving communities surrounded by industrial oil palm plantations of their food sovereignty when industrial oil palm plantations occupy land that communities need to grow food crops.

RSPO's proclaimed vision of transforming the industrial oil palm sector is doomed to fail because the Roundtable's certification principles promote this structural violent and destructive model. The RSPO also fails to address the industry's reliance on exclusive control of large and contingent areas of fertile land, as well as the industry's growth paradigm which demands a continued expansion of corporate control over community land and violent land grabs. None of RPSO's eight certification principles suggests transforming this industry reliance on exclusive control over vast areas of land or the growth paradigm inherent to the model.

Industrial use of vegetable oils has doubled in the past 15 years, with palm oil being the cheapest. This massive increase of palm oil use in part explains the current expansion of industrial oil palm plantations, especially in Africa and Latin America, from the year 2000 onward, in addition to the existing vast plantations areas in Malaysia and Indonesia that also continue expanding.

On the ground, countless examples show that industrial oil palm plantations continue to be synonymous to violence and destruction for communities and forests. Communities' experiences in the new industrial oil palm plantation frontiers, such as Gabon, Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Peru, Honduras, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, are similar to past and ongoing community experiences in Indonesia and Malaysia.

RSPO creates a smokescreen that makes this violence invisible for consumers and financiers. Governments often fail to take regulatory action to stop the expansion of plantations and increasing demand of palm oil; they rely on RSPO to deliver an apparently sustainable flow of palm oil. For example, in its public propaganda, RSPO claims it supports more than 100,000 small holders. But the profit from palm oil production is still disproportionally appropriated by the oil palm companies: in 2016, 88% of all certified palm oil came from corporate plantations and 99,6% of the production is corporate-controlled.

RSPO also claims that the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is key among its own Principles and Criteria. The right to FPIC implies, among others, that if a community denies the establishment of this monoculture in its territory, operations cannot be carried out. Reality shows us, however, that despite this, many projects go ahead. Concessions are often guaranteed long before the company reaches out to the affected communities. Under these circumstances, to say that FPIC is central to RSPO is bluntly false and disrespectful.

RSPO also argues that where conflicts with the plantation companies arise, communities can always use its complaint mechanism. However, the mechanism is complex and it rarely solves the problems that communities face and want to resolve. This becomes particularly apparent in relation to land legacy conflicts where the mechanism is biased against communities. It allows companies to continue exploiting community land until courts have come to a decision. This approach encourages companies to sit out such conflicts and count on court proceedings dragging on, often over decades.

Another argument used by RSPO is that industrial oil palm plantations have lifted millions of people out of poverty. That claim is certainly questionable, even more so considering that there is also an important number of people who have been displaced over the past decades to make space for plantations. Some indigenous communities have in fact lost their fertile land, forests and rivers to oil palm plantations, adversely affecting their food, culture and local economies.

The RSPO promise of “transformation” has turned into a powerful greenwashing tool for corporations in the palm oil industry. RSPO grants this industry, which remains responsible for violent land grabbing, environmental destruction, pollution through excessive use of agrotoxics and destruction of peasant and indigenous livelihoods, a “sustainable” image. What's more, RSPO membership seems to suffice for investors and companies to be able to claim that they are “responsible” actors. This greenwash is particularly stunning, since being a member does not guarantee much change on the ground. Only recently, a company became RSPO member after it was found to deforest over 27.000 hectares of rainforest in Papua, Indonesia.

Certification is structurally dependent on the very same policies and regulation that have given rise to the host of environmental devastation and community land rights violations associated with oil palm plantations. These systemic governance issues are part of the destructive economic model, and embedded in state power. For this reason, voluntary certification schemes cannot provide adequate protection for forests, community rights, food sovereignty and guarantee sustainability. Governments and financiers need to take responsibility to stop the destructive palm oil expansion that violates the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

As immediate steps, governments need to:
- put in place a moratorium on palm oil plantations expansion and use that as a breathing space to fix the policy frameworks;
- drastically reduce demand for palm oil: stop using food for fuel;
- strengthen and respect the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples to amongst others, self-determination and territorial control;
- promote agro-ecology and community control of their forests, which strengthens local incomes, livelihoods and food sovereignty, instead of advancing industrial agro-businesses

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Read the full statement below:

RSPO: 14 years of failure to eliminate violence and destruction from the industrial palm oil sector

 

During its 14 years of existence, RSPO – the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – has failed to live up to its claim of “transforming” the industrial palm oil production sector into a so-called “sustainable” one. In reality, the RSPO has been used by the palm oil industry to greenwash corporate destruction and human rights abuses, while it continues to expand business, forest destruction and profits.

RSPO presents itself to the public with the slogan “transforming the markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm”. Palm oil has become the cheapest vegetable oil available on the global market, making it a popular choice among the group that dominates RSPO membership, big palm oil buyers. They will do everything to secure a steady flow of cheap palm oil. They also know that the key to the corporate success story of producing “cheap” palm oil is a particular model of industrial production: Ever-increasing efficiency and productivity which in turn is achieved by: (1) planting on a large-scale and in monoculture, frequently through conversion of tropical biodiverse forests; (2) using “high yielding” seedlings that demand large amounts of agrotoxics and abundant water; (3) squeezing cheap labour out of the smallest possible work force, employed in precarious conditions so that company costs are cut to a minimum; (4) making significant up-front money from the tropical timber extracted from concessions, which is then used to finance plantation development or increase corporate profits; (5) grabbing land violently from local communities or by means of other arrangements with governments (including favourable tax regimes) to access land at the lowest possible cost.

Those living on the fertile land that the corporations choose to apply their industrial palm oil production model, pay a very high price. Violence is intrinsic to this model:

– violence and repression when communities resist the corporate take-over of their land because they know that once their land is turned into monoculture oil palm plantations, their livelihoods will be destroyed, their land and forests invaded. In countless cases, deforestation caused by the expansion of this industry, has displaced communities or destroyed community livelihoods where companies violate customary rights and take control of community land;

– sexual violence and harassment against women in and around the plantations which often stays invisible because women find themselves without possibilities to demand that the perpetrators be prosecuted;

– child labour and precarious working conditions that go hand-in-hand with violation of workers’ rights; working conditions can even be so bad as to amount to contemporary forms of slavery. This exploitative model of work grants companies more economic profits while allowing palm oil to remain a cheap product. That is why, neither them or their shareholders do anything to stop it

– exposure of workers, entire communities and forests, rivers, water springs, agricultural land and soils to the excessive application of agrotoxics;

– depriving communities surrounded by industrial oil palm plantations of their food sovereignty when industrial oil palm plantations occupy land that communities need to grow food crops.

RSPO’s proclaimed vision of transforming the industrial oil palm sector is doomed to fail because the Roundtable’s certification principles promote this structural violent and destructive model. The RSPO also fails to address the industry’s reliance on exclusive control of large and contingent areas of fertile land, as well as the industry’s growth paradigm which demands a continued expansion of corporate control over community land and violent land grabs. None of RPSO’s eight certification principles suggests transforming this industry reliance on exclusive control over vast areas of land or the growth paradigm inherent to the model.

Industrial use of vegetable oils has doubled in the past 15 years, with palm oil being the cheapest. This massive increase of palm oil use in part explains the current expansion of industrial oil palm plantations, especially in Africa and Latin America, from the year 2000 onward, in addition to the existing vast plantations areas in Malaysia and Indonesia that also continue expanding.

On the ground, countless examples show that industrial oil palm plantations continue to be synonymous to violence and destruction for communities and forests. Communities’ experiences in the new industrial oil palm plantation frontiers, such as Gabon, Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Peru, Honduras, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, are similar to past and ongoing community experiences in Indonesia and Malaysia.

RSPO creates a smokescreen that makes this violence invisible for consumers and financiers. Governments often fail to take regulatory action to stop the expansion of plantations and increasing demand of palm oil; they rely on RSPO to deliver an apparently sustainable flow of palm oil. For example, in its public propaganda, RSPO claims it supports more than 100,000 small holders. But the profit from palm oil production is still disproportionally appropriated by the oil palm companies: in 2016, 88% of all certified palm oil came from corporate plantations and 99,6% of the production is corporate-controlled.

RSPO also claims that the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is key among its own Principles and Criteria. The right to FPIC implies, among others, that if a community denies the establishment of this monoculture in its territory, operations cannot be carried out. Reality shows us, however, that despite this, many projects go ahead. Concessions are often guaranteed long before the company reaches out to the affected communities. Under these circumstances, to say that FPIC is central to RSPO is bluntly false and disrespectful.

RSPO also argues that where conflicts with the plantation companies arise, communities can always use its complaint mechanism. However, the mechanism is complex and it rarely solves the problems that communities face and want to resolve. This becomes particularly apparent in relation to land legacy conflicts where the mechanism is biased against communities. It allows companies to continue exploiting community land until courts have come to a decision. This approach encourages companies to sit out such conflicts and count on court proceedings dragging on, often over decades.

Another argument used by RSPO is that industrial oil palm plantations have lifted millions of people out of poverty. That claim is certainly questionable, even more so considering that there is also an important number of people who have been displaced over the past decades to make space for plantations. Some indigenous communities have in fact lost their fertile land, forests and rivers to oil palm plantations, adversely affecting their food, culture and local economies.

The RSPO promise of “transformation” has turned into a powerful greenwashing tool for corporations in the palm oil industry. RSPO grants this industry, which remains responsible for violent land grabbing, environmental destruction, pollution through excessive use of agrotoxics and destruction of peasant and indigenous livelihoods, a “sustainable” image. What’s more, RSPO membership seems to suffice for investors and companies to be able to claim that they are “responsible” actors. This greenwash is particularly stunning, since being a member does not guarantee much change on the ground. Only recently, a company became RSPO member after it was found to deforest over 27.000 hectares of rainforest in Papua, Indonesia.

Certification is structurally dependent on the very same policies and regulation that have given rise to the host of environmental devastation and community land rights violations associated with oil palm plantations. These systemic governance issues are part of the destructive economic model, and embedded in state power. For this reason, voluntary certification schemes cannot provide adequate protection for forests, community rights, food sovereignty and guarantee sustainability. Governments and financiers need to take responsibility to stop the destructive palm oil expansion that violates the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

As immediate steps, governments need to:

– put in place a moratorium on palm oil plantations expansion and use that as a breathing space to fix the policy frameworks;

– drastically reduce demand for palm oil: stop using food for fuel;

– strengthen and respect the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples to amongst others, self-determination and territorial control;

– promote agro-ecology and community control of their forests, which strengthens local incomes, livelihoods and food sovereignty, instead of advancing industrial agro-businesses

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Chief Judge Daniel L. Hovland Grants Downward Variance: Dion Ortiz Sentenced to 16 Months for Civil Disorder

Water Protector Legal Collective - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 15:39

Dion Ortiz at home in San Felipe Pueblo, New Mexico Bismarck, ND: Dion Ortiz was sentenced on October 22, 2018 to a 16-month federal prison term pursuant to a non-cooperating plea agreement, becoming the fourth Water Protector arrested in relation to the DAPL pipeline resistance at Standing Rock to be sentenced to a substantial prison Read More

The post Chief Judge Daniel L. Hovland Grants Downward Variance: Dion Ortiz Sentenced to 16 Months for Civil Disorder appeared first on Water Protector Legal Collective.

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Outrage at Prince William's "racist" conservation video

Survival International - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 09:49
Prince William's video has been accused of perpetuating "white saviour" stereotypes.© Kensington Palace

A video about Prince William’s recent conservation trip to Africa has been criticised for only including non-Africans’ perspectives on conservation and promoting a “white saviour” stereotype.

Dr. Mordecai Ogada, Kenyan ecologist & author of The Big Conservation Lie, said today:

“This is a diagram of the new British Colonial paradigm. The kingdom of “conservation”. This is the only arena where the heir to the Throne can go around touring the colonies, and telling his subjects how they should be taking care of their own resources.

“HRH Prince William should not pontificate to us about wildlife trade while the UK is the world’s number one trader in ivory. Kenya banned ivory trade a full forty years before the UK. The Duke is most welcome to come visit as a tourist, but he should kindly let us conserve what is ours in the way that suits us best.”

The video was released on Twitter on October 11, 2018 by Kensington Palace.

How did William got to be in charge of our African wildlife? All our conservancies should be left to locals who are original owners of the Lands to manage.

— John Kamau (@Johnn_Kamau) October 11, 2018

Only one black person is shown speaking to camera in the film. While all the other contributors share their expertise on conservation, her contribution in the video relates only to the Prince’s leadership abilities.

The people interviewed in the video are:

Charlie Mayhew, CEO of Tusk, who comments on tackling the illegal wildlife trade and later also on Tusk’s work in Africa.

Dr Naomi Doak, Head of Conservation Programmes at The Royal Foundation, who discusses engaging the private sector in conservation efforts and later on how important the Prince’s contribution is to the people he met on his visit.

Dr Antony Lynam, Regional Training Director at SMART for the Wildlife Conservation Society, who talks about the Prince’s support for the use of SMART technology for conservation.

Finally, Patricia Kayaga, the only black interviewee featured in the video, is a student at the College of African Wildlife Management, which the Prince visited on his tour.

The sea of white faces in Prince William’s “financial task force for United for Wildlife” has also been criticized.© Kensington Palace

Charles Nsonkali, a representative of a Baka indigenous community organization in Cameroon, earlier released an open letter to Prince William and Prince Harry which said: “Conservationists seem to think that outsiders are the only people who want to look after nature and can do it effectively but this makes no sense to me.”

Survival International has been highlighting the covert racism endemic in big conservation in an intensive social media campaign over several weeks in the run up to the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, taking place 11th-12th October in London. Its video comparing conservation to colonialism was released this week.

Survival International Director Stephen Corry said today:

“It’s hard to think of a more extreme example of the “white saviour” mentality than this video. It amounts to racist propaganda in its promotion of white people as the saviours of Africa. Non-Africans are presented in the film as the real experts on conservation, while the locals are not seen as having anything worthwhile to contribute other than their grateful thanks. The attitudes behind it are chronically outdated, and will destroy conservation if they don’t change; it is the local people who understand their environment and its wildlife better than anybody else and the conservation movement should not only listen to them, but take its lead from them.”

Categories: E1. Indigenous

Charles writes open letter to William and Harry ahead of key wildlife conference

Survival International - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 03:39
Prince Harry, Prince William, and Prince Charles. Conservation groups supported by the three royals fund ecoguards accused of multiple abuses against indigenous people.© Survival

Charles Nsonkali has written to Princes William and Harry calling for urgent action to stop horrific atrocities committed by the conservation industry against the Baka people of Cameroon. Charles is Program Supervisor at Okani, a community-based indigenous organization located in the East Region of Cameroon.

Charles Jones Nsonkali works for the Baka organization Okani. He has been fighting for Baka rights for 30 years.© Survival

Charles writes that eco-guards patrolling the protected conservation zones in central Africa “torture Baka people here and make their lives hell. They strip Baka naked and beat them, they humiliate them, forcing them to crawl on all fours and destroy their camps and possessions.”

The guards are funded, trained and supported by western conservation organizations including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Baka people from south-eastern Cameroon tell Survival International about their horrific experiences with eco-guards.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples, has released the letter to coincide with the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference (IWT), which the princes will be attending, taking place in London 11th-12th October.

Princes William and Harry are Ambassadors for United for Wildlife, a partnership of conservation organizations including both WWF and WCS. Their father, Prince Charles, is President of WWF UK.

A poster from Survival International's campaign to highlight the atrocities committed by ecoguards against the Baka and other indigenous peoples.© Survival International

As well as the violence suffered by Baka communities, the letter highlights the deliberate yet counter-productive exclusion of indigenous peoples from conservation efforts, despite the fact that they understand their environment and its wildlife better than anyone else. Charles writes:

“Conservationists seem to think that outsiders are the only people who want to look after nature and can do it effectively but this makes no sense to me….Who wants to look after nature more than the people who call it home and depend on it for their survival? Who understands how to care for nature more than someone who has walked through the forest every day of their lives and knows every plant, every tree, every creature? Work with them, not against them!”

Survival International has been campaigning against the abuses committed by conservation against indigenous people for more than thirty years. Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today:

“There is a worrying sense that some conservationists consider the lives of indigenous people a price worth paying to protect wildlife. However, we trust that their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex are as outraged by these atrocities as we are, and we hope they will speak out against the violence being committed in conservation’s name. If the conservation industry persists in robbing indigenous people of their land and persecuting them, it will not survive.”

Categories: E1. Indigenous

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