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.
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.
[caption id="attachment_23422" align="alignleft" width="227"] 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"] 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.[/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.[/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. "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.
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:
2. Post this message on Smucker's Facebook wall:
3. Tweet at Smucker's:
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. 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.
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:
2. Post this message on Kellogg's Facebook wall:
3. Tweet at Kellogg's:
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.