Today marks two years since Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) abruptly changed course, silenced its bulldozers and announced a groundbreaking Forest Conservation Policy. For decades, the Indonesian logging giant had been one of the globe’s most notorious threats to rainforests and forest communities - taking over and mowing down tens of thousands of acres a year to produce wood pulp for books, copy paper, tissue and packaging.
But after steady years of nonstop pressure from RAN and other groups, we achieved one of the most dramatic shifts in corporate policy ever. APP’s Forest Conservation Policy has the potential to impact millions of acres of some of the most culturally and biologically diverse landscapes in the world -- and it would never have happened without the steadfast perseverance of supporters like you.
So THANK YOU once again!
But at Rainforest Action Network, we know that promises, especially of the corporate variety, can be broken.
So over the past two years, we have remained vigilant and active behind the scenes, working hard to turn paper promises into real change on the ground. Our goal is not a corporate PR moment, but real positive impact on the lives of local communities in Indonesia, and the protection of crucial habitat for endangered wildlife like the Sumatran tiger, elephant and orangutan. Working with Indonesian and other allies, our efforts have resulted in an improved process for conflict resolution with local communities, a commitment to effectively restore over two million acres of degraded forests, and we are still fighting for improvements and greater transparency throughout APP’s implementation process.
Just last month, RAN released an in-depth report on APP’s progress. Along with 10 allied organizations - including 9 based in Indonesia - this on-the-ground research consulted 17 Indonesian communities directly impacted by APP - and the results reveal significant policy implementation problems. Our report offers detailed recommendations for how APP can properly address hundreds of unresolved land conflicts remaining in its concessions, Just today the company has released an action plan outlining its response to our concerns and a third party performance evaluation of APP that we helped secure.
While we will continue to hold APP accountable, RAN also directly supports frontline communities living with the historic impact of APP’s deforestation. Our Protect-an-Acre program provides crucial grants that go directly to the local organizations and community groups working on these issues - groups like Yayasan Wahana Bumi Hijau (WBH) which recently supported villagers to successfully negotiate an agreement with APP to return 24,000 acres of their traditional lands to community stewardship. This story is just one of many, many more - please visit the Protect an Acre site to learn more and to pledge your support directly to the frontline communities that need it most.
Thank you for making this possible - and please help us keep up the pressure in 2015 and beyond.
For the Planet
You’re going to want to clear your schedule. This. Is. Huge.
I’m really excited to tell you about the next big thing happening with the Palm Oil Action Team: The first ever Palm Oil Action Leaders Summit!
The Palm Oil Action Team is making some of the largest companies in the world change their policies and their practices to protect the precious rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. We're winning, but there is still more work to be done. That's why I am so excited to invite you to join the Palm Oil Action Leaders Summit.
When you apply to join the Summit and become a Palm Oil Action Leader, here’s what you’ll get:
Attend the Palm Oil Action Leaders Summit in San Francisco, CA from March 27 - 31st where you will be trained in designing and coordinating creative actions, communicating clearly to the public about campaign work, and how to incite and inspire your community to take action!
Put your new knowledge from the Summit into practice by organizing creative actions in your community -- publicly exposing the ills of Conflict Palm Oil and holding PepsiCo and other companies that are using this controversial ingredient to account.
Be part of an incredible team of activists from around the country from March to September 2015 (and beyond!) that collaborate and support each other as part of the Conflict Palm Oil campaign.
In summary: Make an impact for rainforests, and the people and animals that depend on them, by gaining new organizing skills, being a part of a powerful team and having FUN!
Ready for the nitty gritty details? Here they are:
What: Palm Oil Action Leaders Summit
When: March 27-31, 2015
Where: San Francisco and Point Reyes, California
Why: RAN’s Conflict Palm Oil Campaign is on the way to victory, but we’ll need committed and passionate activists to lead the charge and raise the stakes for the Snack Food 20. We're committed to bringing together a powerful team and giving you the skills and training you need to be effective and have fun.
Who can join: Whether you are brand new to RAN’s campaigns or are a seasoned activist, we encourage you to apply. We will be looking for diversity in background, geographical location and experience in applicants.
Costs: While the summit is free and all food, lodging, and training are provided at no cost, you will be responsible for the cost of travel to and from the Summit. Limited travel scholarships are available for those who need them in order to attend. We encourage everyone to apply regardless of their ability to pay for transportation.
Training Logistics: Meals at the Summit will be vegan and vegetarian and will fulfill any dietary needs. We will be staying in shared dorm rooms at the Point Reyes Hostel and at another hostel TBD in San Francisco.
How to apply: Spots are starting to fill up, and we are continuing to accept applications on a rolling basis! We will close the application process when all spaces are full. If this page is up there are spots still available, so click here to apply right now!
Commitment: We are asking everyone who applies to commit to attending the entire Summit and commit to doing roughly 10-15 hours of organizing per month from March 31 to September 31, 2015.
Do you have any questions about the Palm Oil Action Leaders Summit that aren’t answered here? Email me at Jess@ran.org
Last week, a team of RAN staff travelled to Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada to participate in the Tar Sands Healing Walk, which is organized and hosted by members of the local First Nations Communities.
Walking amidst the Tar Sands destruction was a humbling and powerful experience. We are putting together a series of blogs to share our impressions and reflections. This, our first one, is a photo-diary of the walk.
1. Grand Chief Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Derek Nepinak, Chief Allan Adam and Grand Chief Philip Stewart addressed the walkers at the beginning of our day. Each spoke about the importance of protecting land for future generations and the impacts that Tar Sands mining is having on First Nations Communities in Canada.
2. Aboriginal elders led procession under a banner reading “Stop the Destruction Start the Healing”. Along the way we stopped to pray for the land’s healing with offerings of tobacco, water and song.
3. We walked for more than nine miles around Syncrude’s excavation site, refinery and tailings ponds.
4. Many of the vehicles that passed our walk were transporting ‘potable water’. The local groundwater has been polluted by the Tar Sands mining operations.
5. This ‘Tailings Pond’ contains waste water from the Tar Sands extraction process. The neon work-suited scarecrows have been placed to deter birds from landing on the pond. 1600 ducks died after landing on a Syncrude tailings pond in 2008.
6. We were accompanied on the walk by two First Nations drum groups.
7. The air was thick and heavy with fumes from Syncrude’s refinery.
8. We passed a ‘work camp’ where Syncrude workers live, in the shadow of the refinery.
9. The RAN team, next to Syncrude’s refinery.
10. We passed several areas labeled as ‘reclamation’ sites. These bore no resemblance to the healthy Boreal forest ecosystem that existed before the mine was developed.
Stay tuned for future blog posts sharing our impressions and reflections.
We don’t get to do this as often as we would like. Today, we get to share some good news with you. Thanks to your hard work and support over the past four years, the world’s top publishers are moving in the right direction when it comes to eliminating rainforest destruction, human rights violations, and species extinction from their supply chains.
We’re publishing A New Chapter for the Publishing Industry: Putting Promises into Practice today, which outlines the shift in the entire sector as the implementation of publishers’ Indonesian forest commitments proceeds. Given the progress that publishers have undertaken in the last four years (since our 2010 report), we can confidently say that you have successfully prodded the 10 biggest publishers—and hence the whole industry—in the right direction. Click here to read the new report.
To really illustrate the point, we are pleased to tell you about two recently announced paper policies from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan. These policies go farther, in many ways, than past commitments from other companies. They demonstrate a new level of thoughtfulness and attention to detail—and a fierce commitment to eliminating controversial fiber and suppliers in order to protect the forests facing the greatest threats. Over the last four years, RAN has worked closely with publishers to develop and innovate the best practices for eliminating controversial fiber and suppliers from supply chains, and verifying and implementing forest commitments. What has emerged is a set of best practices (spelled out in the report) that could guide companies--not just in paper but in many forest commodities--in tracing their supply chains and protecting forests in the process. Of course, there’s still work to be done.
In order to translate this work to change on the ground, publishers should urge all of their supply chain partners to develop and implement strong, comprehensive paper policies. And, in particular, all companies should either stop buying (or maintain their no-buy stance) on controversial Indonesian pulp and paper giant APRIL and all affiliated companies.
Of course, this transformative work would never have been possible without you. While much of this work has happened behind the scenes, you were with us every step of the way through your commitment to RAN and its work.