Pages tagged "malaysia"


A New Chapter for the Publishing Industry: Putting Promises into Practice

pubreport_720x720We 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.

RSVP to join me in a chat on May 27, 2014 to find out how you can help us keep publishers on the right track or to read the report here.

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.


Revelations on illegal Indonesian logging sends clear message to governments and buyers

Last week the former governor of Riau province in Sumatra, the epicenter of deforestation in Indonesia, was sentenced to 14 years in prison by Indonesia’s anti corruption court for taking bribes for illegally issuing logging permits to nine suppliers of APRIL’s Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper and APP’s Indah Kiat mills. This conviction follows similar convictions of Riau’s Palalawan and Siak district regents (Bupatis).

This week a diverse and influential civil society network called the “anti forest-mafia coalition” released an in depth and ground breaking analysis of the Indonesian “Forest Legality Verification System” (SVLK) finding flaws in the SVLK standard and its application and detailing sweeping changes required for the system to be credible and contribute to improved forest governance in Indonesia.

The SVLK timber legality assurance system comes out of an agreement between the EU and Indonesian governments aimed at improving forest governance and ensuring that Indonesian forest products are produced, harvested and shipped in compliance with the laws and regulations of Indonesia. SLVK certification is intended to assure forest products (wood, paper, etc.) customers and trading partner governments that products are legal and to secure access to foreign markets. In Europe, the intention is that SVLK certified products gain automatic access to the market. In the US, SVLK certification will not provide a guarantee that forest products imported into the US will meet the requirements of the Lacey Act.

Nevertheless, Indonesian forest product companies like APRIL and their customers are already promoting their SVLK certification and hoping that SVLK will fulfill the due diligence requirements of the Lacey Act. However, given systemic governance problems and recent revelations from Indonesia, such assertions are premature. In fact, the anti forest-mafia coalition’s report, and the long list of forest crime cases being considered by Indonesia’s Anti Corruption Commission (KPK) suggests that the Riau former governor’s crimes are just the tip of the iceberg. The Riau convictions and the anti forest-mafia coalition’s report are a wake up call for governments, customers and investors alike. Forest governance in Indonesia and the SVLK certification system still have a long way to go before they can provide confidence in the rule of law or any assurance that it is being implemented and enforced.

The message to customers, investors and importing governments in the EU, Japan, China, the US and around the world is that Indonesian forest products are rife with legal risks and links to corruption and that the current SVLK system does not provide adequate assurance that products are legal or produced in an environmentally or socially responsible manner.

The message to the Indonesian government and producers is that they must tackle corruption, improve forest governance, laws and enforcement and revamp the SVLK standard and its implementation if they are to be trusted and preferred in the international marketplace.

Encouragingly, there is good news that Indonesians and the international community alike can take heart in and support amidst these sobering reports.

First, the Riau prosecutions themselves demonstrate the importance and success of Indonesia’s Anti Corruption Commission (KPK), an institution that is repeatedly demonstrating its integrity, veracity and worth in the face of significant opposition from many powerful interests that it threatens. And second, last week, perhaps the nation’s most well known and important political reformer for clean and improved government and the rule of law, Joko Widodo (or Jokowi as most know him), officially announced his candidacy as presidential candidate in the upcoming elections in July.


RAN Rocks Expo West Conference

[caption id="attachment_23422" align="alignleft" width="227"]Conflict Palm Oil giant Cargill at the Natural Food Expo Conflict Palm Oil giant Cargill at the Natural Food Expo[/caption] Health food companies selling products with Conflict Palm Oil are called to address the Orangutan in the room. Last weekend, RAN took the truth on Conflict Palm Oil to the Expo West Natural Foods Conference in Anaheim, CA. A sea of 67,000 natural food industry exhibitors showcased everything from snackfood to health and beauty products. The majority of the companies attending market themselves as organic, vegan, healthy brands - but the truth is, many of them are still using Conflict Palm Oil in their products. If there was any doubt that Conflict Palm Oil and health food don’t mix, keynote speaker Dr. Andrew Weil, who has been writing about the dangers of trans fats for over 20 years, cleared that up during his packed presentation. “It’s important not to confuse healthy, raw palm oil with the highly processed versions that are commonly used in the industrially-produced packaged foods found in most American’s diets. These types of palm oil are unhealthy for the human body. And their irresponsible cultivation in tropical areas is unhealthy for the planet.” Dr. Weil’s statement serves as a warning to health food entrepreneurs who are considering increasing their use of Conflict Palm Oil – do not replace trans fats with Conflict Palm Oil. [caption id="attachment_23424" align="alignleft" width="550"]Raj Patel asks hundreds in to take a stand for orangutans. Hundreds take a stand for orangutans, thanks to Raj Patel.[/caption] For me, the most inspiring moment was when keynote speaker and food movement author Raj Patel called on concerned citizens to stand up to injustice through organized political action, protests, and environmental campaigns - not just through conscious lifestyle choices and consumer purchases. Leading by example, Raj gave Strawberry the Orangutan the floor and collected an #inyourpalm photo petition from the audience. It was a call to join a movement whose influence is greater than what we can achieve through our personal choices. I couldn’t agree more with Raj’s powerful message. It’s your direct communication with corporate giants through Facebook, Twitter, emails, phone calls, stickering, and photo petitions that demonstrates to these companies that they can no longer get away with greenwashing tactics and using Conflict Palm Oil in their products. [caption id="attachment_23425" align="alignleft" width="300"]Michael Franti gets it. Michael Franti gets it.[/caption] Like many Americans, the majority of the food that I was raised on was highly processed, coming directly from a box or a bag directly to the dinner table. As an adult, I strive to eat nutritious and minimally processed foods from my garden or the farmer’s market. I was a lifestyle activist who chose to fight big agribusiness by reading every label, when I began my 6 month internship with RAN. But since joining the Palm Oil Action Team, I have witnessed the true power of collective action and community organizing. It's amazing that thousands of people like me have joined us to fight for an end to Conflict Palm Oil in our food supply. Our collective actions have real power and the more we organize, the stronger we grow, and the more change we drive in the palm oil industry. [caption id="attachment_23426" align="alignright" width="300"]Saxophone in one hand, activism in the other, Karl Denson takes action before taking the stage. Saxophone in one hand, activism in the other, Karl Denson takes action before taking the stage.[/caption] At Expo West, our movement to eliminate the rainforest destruction by Conflict Palm Oil grew stronger and gathered new voices. Musicians Michael Franti of “Michael Franti and Spearhead”, and Karl Denson of “Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe” pitched in. Both Franti and Denson have traveled extensively and seen first hand the devastation that Conflict Palm Oil has caused, and both were excited to take action with us before taking the stage. Check out their #inyourpalm photos! They weren’t alone in taking action - renowned mycologist Paul Stamets and wife Dusty Yao, who believe old growth forests are our greatest resource for medicine, also took a stand for the world’s last wild orangutans. Your voice gives this campaign the power to tell companies that health food and Conflict Palm Oil don’t mix. Whether you are passionate about fixing our broken food system, protecting biodiversity, or preventing forced labor, join Raj Patel, Michael Franti, and thousands of others by uploading your own #inyourpalm photo petition here. [caption id="attachment_23427" align="alignleft" width="225"]Paul Stamets and wife Dusty Yao take a stand against Conflict Palm Oil. Paul Stamets and wife Dusty Yao take a stand against Conflict Palm Oil. "Knowledge is Power!" Dusty's hand reads.[/caption] And to get even further involved, with local actions and more, join me and the rest of the Palm Oil Action Team here. Together, we can cut Conflict Palm Oil from our food supply.


Climate Culprits Exposed In New Scorecard

RAG_UCS Scores We know that keeping forests standing, along with keeping fossil fuels in the ground, offers Earth’s best hope for fighting catastrophic climate change. Yet everyday rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands are destroyed, burnt and replaced with row upon row of palm oil plantations. This destruction has propelled Indonesia, the world's largest exporter of palm oil, into becoming the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions behind only China and the US. So why are we still destroying the rainforests that are the key to securing a safe climate future? We’re losing forests because companies like PepsiCo, Kraft, Heinz and ConAgra Foods buy cheap palm oil to use in their products without making sure that the palm oil they buy is not linked to rainforest destruction. Today, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a scorecard that ranks 30 companies on the basis of the commitments each has made, and the actions each has taken, to address the climate and forest impacts of the palm oil in their supply chains. Ten of the 30 major companies ranked in the scorecard are companies we’ve dubbed the Snack Food 20. RAN chose these twenty corporations because they are globally significant snack food manufacturing companies that consume palm oil. These companies have the power to engage their global supply chains, driving a transformation of the way palm oil is produced and ending the destruction of rainforests. This scorecard reveals that PepsiCo, Kraft, Heinz and ConAgra Foods are the 4 packaged food companies that have taken the least action to address the impact of their palm oil supply chain on the climate and forests we all rely on. So while other companies in the palm oil sector are adopting ambitious responsible palm oil policies that, once implemented, will break the link between their products and rainforest destruction, these companies are refusing to clean up their supply chains. With your help we will force the worst offenders to change the way they do business. These companies invest millions of dollars to gain your trust. You have enormous influence. All you need to do is put your power into action and join the movement telling these companies to remove Conflict Palm Oil from their products. Please join us and invite your friends and family to do the same as we take on these brands—and win. We have the opportunity to right so many wrongs simply by speaking out and refusing to stand by brands that use Conflict Palm Oil. Protecting forests will not only help combat climate change, it will also secure the homes of the world’s last orangutans and the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on these forests for their survival. The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. The full scorecard can be found at www.ucsusa.org/palmoilscorecard.

Stand With Orangutans On World Wildlife Day

Today is World Wildlife Day, and orangutans need your help more than ever. The rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia that the world's last remaining wild orangutans rely on are being destroyed for Conflict Palm Oil—but you can change that. With your help, we're calling out 20 of the top snack food brands that are using palm oil tied to rainforest destruction and demanding that they change their ways. Stand with orangutans this World Wildlife Day by making a generous donation now. No orangutans—or Sumatran tigers, or pygmy elephants, or any other wildlife that calls the rainforest home—should lose their homes for cheap snack foods. Can you make a generous contribution and help stop orangutans' rainforest homes from being bulldozed for Conflict Palm Oil?

Tell Mars, Inc. To Set an Example for the Snack Food 20

Today I visited the corporate headquarters of Mars, Inc. with Strawberry, an orphaned orangutan from Indonesia, to let the company know that consumers all across the world want Mars to stop using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. Unlike some of its fellow Snack Food 20 companies, like Kraft and Smucker’s, Mars is on the move. We have a chance to push Mars, the maker of wildly popular brands like M&Ms, Snickers, and Combos, to become an industry leader in sourcing responsible palm oil. After RAN put the snack food sector on notice last April, Mars, Inc. responded by strengthening its palm oil commitment. The company has committed to working towards sourcing 100% of its palm oil from traceable sources that are not associated with deforestation, expansion on carbon-rich peatlands and the violation of human and labor rights. Mars needs to hear from you right now! Tell the company to turn its new commitments into a global palm oil policy and take action to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products immediately. 1. Call Mars at 1-800-627-7852. Here's a call script you can use:
“Hi, my name is [your name] from [your city]. I’m a [student, mom..] and one of your valued customers! It concerns me that your company cannot guarantee that it is not using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. Mars, Inc. must demand responsible palm oil from its suppliers and eliminate conflict palm oil from its products. I encourage you to build on Mars, Inc.’s existing palm oil procurement commitments by adopting a new global responsible palm oil procurement policy and implementation plan that ensures that the palm oil in your company’s supply chain is fully traceable, legally grown, and sourced from verified responsible palm oil producers not associated with deforestation, expansion onto carbon-rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations. Thank You!”
2. Post this message on Mars’ Facebook wall:
Hey Mars, Inc., I’m standing with orangutans, and I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict Palm Oil. Demand responsible palm oil from your suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products. The power is #InYourPalm.
3. Tweet at Mars:
@MarsGlobal I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict #PalmOil. The power is #InYourPalm.
At the Mars HQ, Strawberry and I gave representatives of the company a copy of the RAN report Conflict Palm Oil: How US Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations and outlined RAN's demand to cut Conflict Palm Oil. Can you call Mars and encourage the company to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products and set an example for the rest of the Snack Food 20? And if you haven't yet, sign our petition to all of the Snack Food 20 companies, including companies like Kraft, Smucker's, and Kellogg's, in addition to Mars, to cut Conflict Palm Oil from their products.

It's Smucker's Turn to Feel the Pressure

The Snack Food 20 are really feeling the pressure! You all have sent almost 20,000 messages to the Snack Food 20 demanding that they cut "Conflict Palm Oil" tied to rainforest destruction, orangutan extinction, and human rights violations from their products. We are well on the way to reaching our goal of getting 60,600 people to stand with the 60,600 orangutans left in the wild forests of Borneo and Sumatra. (If you haven't yet, take action now!) This morning, I accompanied Strawberry, an orphaned orangutan from Indonesia, on her visit to the J.M Smucker Company in Cleveland, OH—and we need you to echo our demands to the company. Let’s make a call for change so loud that Smucker’s can’t ignore it! Here are three things you can do right now to echo our demands to Smucker’s: 1. Call Smucker’s at (330) 682-3000. Here's a call script you can use:

“Hi, my name is [your name] from [your city]. I’m a [student, mom..] and one of your valued customers! It concerns me that your company cannot guarantee that it is not using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. Smucker’s must demand responsible palm oil from its suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products. I encourage you to secure a new global responsible palm oil procurement policy and implementation plan that ensures that the palm oil in your company’s supply chain is fully traceable, legally grown, and sourced from verified responsible palm oil producers not associated with deforestation, expansion onto carbon-rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations. Thank You!”

2. Post this message on Smucker's Facebook wall:

Hey Smucker's, I’m standing with orangutans, and I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict Palm Oil. Demand responsible palm oil from your suppliers and eliminate conflict palm oil from your products. The power is #InYourPalm.

3. Tweet at Smucker's:

@Smuckers I can’t stand by brands that use conflict #palmoil. The power is #InYourPalm.

At the Smucker’s HQ, Strawberry and her friends from the Ohio Palm Oil Action Team gave representatives of The J.M. Smucker Company a copy of the RAN report Conflict Palm Oil: How US Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations and outlined RAN's demand to cut Conflict Palm Oil. Rainforest Action Network at Smucker's HQ Can you call Smucker's now to add your voice to our demands? Today's visit to Smucker’s is the latest company stop on The Power Is In Your Palm Tour. In the past two weeks, Strawberry and our team have visited the headquarters of Kellogg’s, Mondelēz International and Kraft Foods Group to deliver the report and a similar set of demands. The Snack Food 20 is feeling the pressure. Let’s keep it up.


Strawberry the Orangutan Visits the Home of Tony the Tiger

Strawberry at Kellogg's HQ

Today an orangutan called Strawberry, along with RAN's Palm Oil Action Team and local residents from Battle Creek, Michigan, paid a visit to the home of Tony the Tiger, a.k.a Kellogg's headquarters, to call on the snack food giant to cut “Conflict Palm Oil” from its products.

Strawberry’s family lives in the forests of Indonesia on the island of Sumatra, but the expansion of palm oil plantations is threatening their home. After Strawberry learned that Kellogg’s was using Conflict Palm Oil in its products, she set out to tell her story to the company directly and ask the decison makers at Kellogg's to make sure they help protect her family’s home.

Strawberry hoped she might meet Tony the Tiger—thinking he might be a cousin to the Sumatran tigers she knows from home—but instead she met with his keepers. At the Kellogg’s HQ, she and her friends from the palm oil action team gave representatives of the Kellogg Company a copy of the report that RAN released last week, titled Conflict Palm Oil: How US Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations, and outlined RANs demand to cut Conflict Palm Oil.

Strawberry hopes that the folks at Kellogg’s listen to her story and take her demands to heart, but she needs your help to convince Kellogg’s to cut Conflict Palm Oil.

The time for action is now. Here are three things you can do right now to echo our demands to Kellogg's: 1. Call Kellogg’s at 1-800-962-1413. Here's a call script you can use:

“Hi, my name is [your name] from [your city]. I’m a [student, mom..] and one of your valued customers! It concerns me that your company cannot guarantee that it is not using conflict palm oil in its products. Kellogg Company must demand responsible palm oil from its suppliers and eliminate conflict palm oil from your products. I encourage you to build on the Kellogg Company existing palm oil procurement commitments by adopting a new global responsible palm oil procurement policy and implementation plan that ensures that the palm oil in your company’s supply chain is fully traceable, legally grown, and sourced from verified responsible palm oil producers not associated with deforestation, expansion onto carbon-rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations. Thank You!”

2. Post this message on Kellogg's Facebook wall:

Hey Kellogg Company, I’m standing with orangutans, and I can’t stand by brands that use conflict palm oil. Demand responsible palm oil from your suppliers and eliminate conflict palm oil from your products. The power is #InYourPalm.

3. Tweet at Kellogg's:

@KelloggCompany I can’t stand by brands that use conflict #palmoil. The power is #InYourPalm.

Since April, RAN’s team and our supporters have been calling on Kellogg’s to adopt and implement a time-bound policy that builds on its existing commitment and ensures that the palm oil in the company's supply chain is fully traceable, legally grown, and sourced from verified responsible palm oil producers not associated with deforestation, expansion onto carbon-rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations.

In August, Kellogg’s responded to our call to action by releasing a strengthened palm oil commitment. Now Kellogg’s needs to turn that commitment into a robust global palm oil policy and remove Conflict Palm Oil from its products.

Adopting a global responsible palm oil policy is even more important now that Kellogg’s has entered into a joint venture partnership with the world’s largest palm oil trader, Wilmar International. Wilmar International currently does not have an adequate global responsible palm oil procurement policy and, like other global palm oil traders such as Cargill, they continue to buy and sell Conflict Palm Oil to companies like the Snack Food 20. It’s crucial that Kellogg’s only maintains joint venture partnerships with supply chain partners who are willing to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from their global supply chains.

Every day our Palm Oil Action Team is taking action and we are growing a national grassroots movement of US shoppers that are joining Strawberry and demanding that the Snack Food 20 eliminate Conflict Palm Oil.

Find out about the next stop on The Power Is In Your Palm Tour or join our Palm Oil Action Team if you want to help build the movement that will remove Conflict Palm Oil from snack foods. You can also visit www.inyourpalm.org to take action and call on all of the Snack Food 20 companies to cut Conflict Palm Oil from their products.

For more info, download the full Conflict Palm Oil report.


Tackling Indonesia’s Deforestation Crisis Together

[caption id="attachment_20338" align="alignleft" width="300"]A Duta Palma-owned palm oil plantation in Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan). Until Cargill adopts supply chain safeguards and publicly discloses its supposed 'No Trade List,' this rainforest destruction will persist in its palm oil supply chain. Photo: David Gilbert A palm oil plantation in Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan). Photo: David Gilbert[/caption] Jakarta - As fires continue to burn the rainforests of Sumatra and customers around the world continue to raise the volume of their demands for deforestation-free products, a group of powerful individuals have gathered to align on how to stop this spiraling crisis. The workshop is organized under the auspices of the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) and the goal is to find ways to eliminate deforestation in the supply chains of the 400+ Consumer Goods Forum companies. I am encouraged that everyone here—from Indonesia’s President and regional government representatives to high level executives of international commodities corporations to the region's most active environmental NGOs—seems to understand that this issue is urgent and that they have a responsibility to play a role in achieving real and lasting solutions. Auspiciously, the President of Indonesia stated in his welcoming address that he supports the Constitutional court’s recent decision recognizing traditional ADAT (Indigenous community) land rights as separate from state forests. A lack of clear land rights and a jumbled mess of different and often conflicting land ownership maps used by different levels of governments in Indonesia lies at the heart of the rampant rainforest destruction and human rights violations taking place throughout the country. The President discussed his government's initiative to develop 'One map for the Nation’ that all levels of Indonesia’s government can use that show the legal land tenure, ownership and usage rights for all lands in Indonesia. This is an important step, and inclusion of ADAT lands in this map could lead to the recognition of Indigenous people’s customary land rights. According to the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), there are an estimated 40 million hectares (nearly 100 million acres) of ADAT lands in Indonesia, most of which are unrecognized. Legal recognition and respect for human and land rights is urgently needed as Indigenous people and rural communities continue to have their land stolen from them to make way for more palm oil and pulp and paper plantations. Now that the stage has been set there is an opportunity for governments, consumer and producer companies and civil society to develop action-oriented partnerships to tackle deforestation and human rights violations in the pulp and paper and palm oil sectors. But real, concrete actions must be committed to today if we want to end deforestation and human rights violations in Indonesia. For example, companies can require that pulp and paper or palm oil companies that clear rainforests and violate human rights are not welcome in their supply chains and products. And in time, the Indonesian government can create mechanisms to better recognize and respect Indigenous Peoples' rights. RAN has developed a set of recommendations with our civil society partners in Indonesia that will help to protect Indonesia's rainforests and the people who live in and depend upon them. There is reason for guarded optimism coming out of these meetings—I anticipate that some companies will return home with a deeper commitment to zero deforestation and conflict in their supply chain. I also expect that we will need to continue to hold companies and policy makers accountable and to push them to move quickly to implement the solutions being generated. Your support will be crucial in the coming months to keep the pressure on and move the ball forward.

Clearing the Smog: RAN Pushes Companies and Governments to End Indonesia’s Deforestation Crisis

sing smogOn my way to Jakarta yesterday for a series of meetings with the Tropical Forest Alliance—a consortium of government and corporate leaders from around the world working to confront the world's deforestation crisis—I stopped for a layover in Singapore. I was immediately hit over the head by the urgency of our task. There, just outside the airport windows, the once rich rainforests of Sumatra hung suspended as a thick, sickly smoke polluting the tropical air. While the historic haze engulfing Singapore and parts of Malaysia right now is shocking and record-breaking, the tragic reality is that it is just the most visible symptom of the much deeper problem I traveled here to address. Widespread, illegal burning to clear rainforests and peatlands for palm oil and pulp and paper plantation expansion has become a well-established yearly ritual in Sumatra and Borneo. Rapidly expanding pulp, paper and palm oil plantations are driving one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. There is an urgent need to transform the way that these commodities are produced. Irreplaceable wildlife species like the orangutan and Sumatran tiger face a very real threat of extinction in our lifetimes, while land conflicts and human rights abuses plague rural and Indigenous communities across Borneo and Sumatra. I traveled across the world because a promising new opportunity is emerging that could deliver a transformation in these sectors with the potential to break the link between pulp, paper and palm oil production and deforestation and human rights violations. The Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) is a partnership between major companies (including the makers of many of America’s most popular foods) and governments. TFA aspires to achieve 100%-deforestation-free commodities by 2020. The TFA was launched last year at Rio+20 by the Consumer Goods Forum—which includes 400 major global companies—and the U.S. government. Since then, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Norwegian governments have joined the alliance. The TFA’s June 27th – 28th workshop aims to bring together the key players who produce, consume and set policies that impact the way pulp, paper and palm oil are produced. Singapore-Smog-Eases-As-Indonesian-Planes-Waterbomb-Fires-430x244 Rainforest Action Network is attending the workshop to encourage companies and governments to commit to decisive action to end deforestation and human rights violations. We will also call for the TFA to strengthen its commitment by pledging to achieve 100% deforestation AND social conflict/slave labor free commodities by 2020. The US government has an important role to play as the founder of the TFA. Seven leading groups, including Rainforest Action Network, have produced a report titled “Breaking the Link between Commodities and Climate Change” that outlines the steps the US government needs to take to tackle rainforest destruction and land conflicts associated with these commodities. One of the most important roles for governments is to support land management reforms in key countries so communities’ rights to their customary lands are recognized, respected and maintained. My greatest hope is that the international media attention being generated by the record smoke pollution enveloping Singapore right now will serve as a wake up call that pressures the members of the TFA to move quickly and meaningfully. The time for talking in circles and shifting blame is over. We still have a narrow window of opportunity to work together to create systemic change to preserve our remaining rainforests and stop the human suffering that producing these commodities currently causes. But that window is shrinking, and fast. Stay tuned for further dispatches this week from Jakarta as the meetings proceed.

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