Pages tagged "rainforest"


Obama Administration Rewards Malaysia with Improved Human Trafficking Status One Day After Wall Street Journal Exposes Human Trafficking on Palm Oil Plantations

Trans-Pacific Partnership deal coincides with sudden shift in Malaysia’s ranking; WSJ reports: "They buy and sell us like cattle," says palm oil worker.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, Emma@ran.org, (425) 281-1989 | Christopher Herrera, Christopher@ran.org, (510) 290-5282

 

July 27, 2015 (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) - The Obama administration has removed Malaysia from the list of worst offenders for human trafficking and forced labor today, one day after The Wall Street Journal published an extensive report on human trafficking and forced labor on Malaysian palm oil plantations that directly supply major U.S. companies. Malaysia is one of 12 nations in the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and inclusion of a country with the lowest ranking in the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report would be problematic for the administration. The report is an annual assessment on human rights-related issues.

The Wall Street Journal article “Palm-Oil Migrant Workers Tell of Abuses on Malaysian Plantations,” details extensive and pervasive worker abuses on Malaysian palm oil plantations controlled by Felda Global Ventures. Major U.S. companies, including Cargill and Procter & Gamble, are buying palm oil directly from Felda Global Ventures. As the FDA has increasingly restricted, and now banned, trans fat from the U.S. food supply, the demand for palm oil has skyrocketed over recent years — resulting in massive deforestation, climate change impacts and egregious labor violations. Today, palm oil is found in personal care and snack food products from Nestle, The Hershey Company, Kellogg Company and countless other major brands in grocery stores in the U.S. and across the globe.

Workers quoted in the article describe the terrible conditions. “They buy and sell us like cattle,” said one Bangladeshi worker. “There is no escape,” said another, “They bring policemen and threaten to send us to jail.”

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has been working since 2007 to convince companies to reform their policies on the production and purchase of this commodity.  But with today’s announcement from the State Department, the Obama administration has taken a major step backwards in fighting human trafficking across the globe. In response to the article, RAN Senior Campaigner Robin Averbeck issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement from the State Department is nothing short of shocking. The conditions faced by workers in Malaysia — well documented by The Wall Street Journal — are deplorable and a clear case of modern day slavery in the palm oil industry. Unfortunately, the Journal’s story on Felda Global Ventures’ plantations is only the tip of the iceberg in exposing the systemic abuses faced by migrant workers in the Malaysian palm oil industry.

"Felda’s Conflict Palm Oil finds its way onto the shelves of American grocery stores thanks to companies such as Cargill and Procter & Gamble. This commodity ends up in U.S. homes in the form of Old Spice Deodorant, Pop-tarts, and myriad other snack foods and personal care products. Cargill and Procter & Gamble must act immediately to ensure that Felda remedy these serious workers rights violations in a transparent manner, or publicly sever all financial ties with Felda.

"This is a critical test for Cargill and Procter & Gamble. Both companies have recently adopted responsible palm oil policies prohibiting the abuse of human and labor rights in their palm oil supply chains, and their response to these new allegations will be proof of their commitment to these issues."

“Nestle, The Hershey Company, Kellogg Company, and other members of the Snack Food 20 are at high risk of sourcing Conflict Palm Oil from Felda. They must press Cargill, and all suppliers, to remedy these violations in a transparent manner and cut ties with any suppliers not willing to take strong action to address labor violations.

“The U.S. Department of Labor has highlighted, since 2010, the widespread use of forced labor in the Malaysian palm oil industry in its List of Goods Produced with Child Labor or Forced Labor, and in 2014, the U.S. State Department downgraded Malaysia to Tier 3, its lowest ranking in its annual Trafficking in Persons report. Today’s announcement of their improved ranking seems to be a direct response to Malaysia’s support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — despite the continuing human rights and human trafficking allegations outlined in The Wall Street Journal.”

For The Wall Street Journal article “Palm-Oil Migrant Workers Tell of Abuses on Malaysian Plantations”, see http://tinyurl.com/q68g2cr

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has detailed the progress of major U.S. companies in addressing the use of Conflict Palm Oil in their online report card on what they have termed The Snack Food 20. http://www.ran.org/sf20scorecard

 

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Joint NGO Statement: Modern Day Slavery Found on RSPO Member Felda Global Venture’s Plantations

Screen_Shot_2015-07-27_at_10.51.33_AM.png

Coalition of NGOs calls on the RSPO, Malaysian Government and international buyers for an open investigation into The Wall Street Journal’s findings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, Emma@ran.org, (425) 281 - 1989

 

July 27, 2015 (San Francisco, CA) - On the heels of a major investigative article from The  Wall Street Journal exposing serious human rights and labor abuses in Malaysian grower Felda Global Venture’s plantations, a coalition of civil society groups is calling on the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for an open investigation into the abuses. Conditions including human trafficking, forced labor, and withholding of wages were documented, all of which are violations of the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria, as well as basic human rights.  

“Malaysia’s palm oil industry is heavily dependent upon the labor of migrant workers, and time and time again, these workers fall prey to serious exploitation at the hands of their employers or recruitment agencies,” said Glorene Das, Executive Director of Tenaganita, a Malaysian NGO that campaigns for the rights of migrant workers, laborers and women. “The findings found on Felda Global Venture’s plantations must be investigated by the RSPO, as well as the Malaysian government, and immediate action taken,” Das said.

Felda operates over 700,000 hectares of palm oil plantations throughout Indonesia and Malaysia. The company joined the RSPO in 2004 and over 300,000 hectares of its palm oil plantations are RSPO certified. It’s unclear if the plantations visited by the TheWall Street Journal are RSPO certified, but the RSPO does not allow major non-compliances with its Principles and Criteria even on uncertified plantations. Unless immediately remedied, the violations documented by The  Wall Street Journal should result in the RSPO revoking the certification of all of Felda’s operations and suspending Felda’s RSPO membership.

“We are calling on the RSPO to openly investigate TheWall Street Journal’s findings,” said Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director of Finnwatch, a Finnish NGO that focuses on global corporate responsibility. “If the open investigation confirms the findings of the WSJ, the RSPO must uphold its own Principles and Criteria and suspend Felda’s membership until these very serious violations are proven to be remedied,” she said.

International buyers named in the article include Cargill, Procter & Gamble, and Cargill customer Nestlé. Many other major buyers are purchasing from Felda directly and numerous others indirectly.

“It is imperative that all international buyers, including Cargill, Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, as well as those unnamed, act immediately to remedy labor violations in their supply chains. If Felda does not remedy all labor violations in a transparent manner, buyers must publicly sever all financial ties with the company,” said Robin Averbeck, Senior Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network.  

Malaysia has well-documented, severe problems with the abuse of migrant workers, including widespread forced labor and human trafficking. In 2014, the U.S. State Department’s Annual Trafficking in Persons report gave Malaysia the lowest possible rating, meaning the Malaysian government “does not fully comply with the minimum standards (to end human trafficking) and is not making significant efforts to do so.” Despite the State Department’s recent controversial decision to upgrade Malaysia to the Tier 2 Watch List, there is wide agreement among trafficking experts that abuses continue unabated and the government has failed to take meaningful steps towards addressing its severe trafficking problem.

This is not the first time a prominent RSPO palm oil grower has been in the spotlight for serious labor and human rights abuses on its plantations. In 2014, Finnwatch released a report finding serious labor rights violations in RSPO certified estates in Malaysia. The U.S. Department of Labor has highlighted the widespread use of forced labor in the Malaysian palm oil industry since 2010 in itsList of Goods Produced with Child Labor or Forced Labor.

In March of 2015, a coalition of human rights, workers, and environmental organizations and unions from Indonesia, Malaysia, Liberia, North America and Europe released theFree and Fair Labor in Palm Oil Production: Principles and Implementation Guidance. The guide is the first of its kind and details comprehensive recommendations to implement fair labor practices in the palm oil sector.

 

To see the Free and Fair Labor in Palm Oil Production: Principles and Implementation Guidance, visit:  

 http://www.humanityunited.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/PalmOilPrinciples_031215.pdf  

To see TheWall Street Journal’s “Palm-Oil Migrant Workers Tell of Abuses on Malaysian Plantations,” visit

http://tinyurl.com/q68g2cr



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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit:www.ran.org

 


Indonesian Logging Giant APRIL Releases Major New Sustainability Commitments

Forest activists express cautious optimism, but say results on the ground will be the true measure of the new policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989, Emma@ran.org

 

San Francisco, CA - After years of pressure from environmental and human rights organizations, one of the largest and most controversial companies driving deforestation in Indonesia appears on the verge of dramatically changing course. The Rainforest Action Network welcomes reforms from Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) to transform its business model by eliminating deforestation, expansion into peatlands and human rights violations from its operations and supply chains, as well as action to address and remedy its legacy of adverse social and environmental impacts.

Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) has a long and well-documented history of displacing local communities from their lands and failing to respect community rights to free, prior and informed consent. The company has clear-cut and pulped vast areas of Indonesia’s biologically diverse natural rainforests and carbon-rich peat lands, converting these areas into industrial pulp-wood plantations.

In January 2014, APRIL published a Sustainable Forest Management Policy that committed it to stop pulping rainforests by 2020. This received broad criticism as a ‘too little too late’ half-measure by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and others. Since then APRIL and its suppliers are reported to have maintained a rate of thousands of acres of rainforest clear-cut every month, as well as failing to resolve numerous land conflicts with local communities.

RAN launched its first campaign targeting Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper companies - APRIL and Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) - in 2009. Working with local and international civil society allies, this work led to contract cancellations by major corporate paper customers and resulted in a successful petition to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to disassociate the certification body from APRIL. RAN has worked closely with leading paper buyers in the publishing, office supply and luxury sectors in the US, Japan and Europe to establish purchasing guidelines that prevent paper linked to deforestation, peatland loss, land conflict and human rights violations from entering their supply chains.

Following escalating pressure from the company’s customers, bankers and others, APRIL has been reaching out to RAN and others over the past three months to consult about revisions to its policy and establishing an immediate moratorium on further clearance of rainforests. 

In response to APRIL’s June 3, 2015 announcement of its revised Sustainable Forest Management Policy and moratorium on further cutting of natural forests, Lafcadio Cortesi, Asia Director with Rainforest Action Network, issued the following statement: 

“APRIL is one of the few remaining major companies to pulp natural rainforests to make paper. Today's announcement of a moratorium on further clearance and improvements to its policy is a welcome step forward. However, the policy commitment must be supported by a transparent, time bound implementation road map, decisive actions and independent monitoring and verification of outcomes on the ground. This would mark a significant contribution to the conservation of Indonesia’s rainforests and respect for local communities and their rights. RAN urges customers and investors to assess their business relationships with APRIL based on demonstrated and independently verified outcomes on the ground and to avoid business with APRIL and affiliates unless policies on paper are translated into action and improved results for communities and forests on the ground.

“In moving forward, APRIL must also address its legacy of land conflict, deforestation of critical species habitat and peatland conversion. We will be watching APRIL to see whether the company can transform its corporate culture and demonstrate transparency including independent monitoring and verification of its performance on key issues. In its operations and before any expansion, APRIL must go beyond paper promises to proven outcomes, demonstrating to its customers, investors and to the communities and landscapes that have been harmed by its operations that it is accountable for and will remedy past and prevent future adverse impacts.”

 

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Indonesian Logging Giant APRIL Poised to Release Major New Sustainability Commitments

Forest activists express cautious optimism, but say results on the ground will be the true measure of the new policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989, Emma@ran.org 

 

San Francisco, CA - After years of pressure from environmental and human rights organizations, one of the largest and most controversial companies driving deforestation in Indonesia appears on the verge of dramatically changing course. The Rainforest Action Network welcomes reforms from Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) to transform its business model by eliminating deforestation, expansion into peatlands and human rights violations from its operations and supply chains, as well as action to address and remedy its legacy of adverse social and environmental impacts.

Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) has a long and well-documented history of displacing local communities from their lands and failing to respect community rights to free, prior and informed consent. The company has clear-cut and pulped vast areas of Indonesia’s biologically diverse natural rainforests and carbon-rich peat lands, converting these areas into industrial pulp-wood plantations. 

In January 2014, APRIL published a Sustainable Forest Management Policy that committed it to stop pulping rainforests by 2020. This received broad criticism as a ‘too little too late’ half-measure by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and others. Since then APRIL and its suppliers are reported to have maintained a rate of thousands of acres of rainforest clear-cut every month, as well as failing to resolve numerous land conflicts with local communities.

RAN launched its first campaign targeting Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper companies - APRIL and Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) - in 2009. Working with local and international civil society allies, this work led to contract cancellations by major corporate paper customers and resulted in a successful petition to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to disassociate the certification body from APRIL. RAN has worked closely with leading paper buyers in the publishing, office supply and luxury sectors in the US, Japan and Europe to establish purchasing guidelines that prevent paper linked to deforestation, peatland loss, land conflict and human rights violations from entering their supply chains.

Following escalating pressure from the company’s customers, bankers and others, APRIL has been reaching out to RAN and others over the past three months to consult about revisions to its policy and establishing an immediate moratorium on further clearance of rainforests.

In response to APRIL’s anticipated June 3, 2015 announcement of revisions to its Sustainable Forest Management Policy and moratorium on further cutting of natural forests, Lafcadio Cortesi, Asia Director with Rainforest Action Network, issued the following statement:

“APRIL is one of the few remaining major companies to pulp natural rainforests to make paper. A clear and strong policy commitment supported by a transparent, time bound implementation road map, decisive actions and independent monitoring and verification of outcomes on the ground would mark a significant contribution to the conservation of Indonesia’s rainforests and respect for local communities and their rights. RAN urges customers and investors to assess their business relationships with APRIL based on demonstrated and independently verified outcomes on the ground. Paper policies must be translated into action and improved results for communities and forests on the ground.

“In moving forward, APRIL must also address its legacy of land conflict, deforestation of critical species habitat and peatland conversion. We will be watching APRIL to see whether the company can transform its corporate culture and demonstrate transparency including independent monitoring and verification of its performance on key issues. In its operations and before any expansion, APRIL must go beyond paper promises to proven outcomes, demonstrating to its customers, investors and to the communities and landscapes that have been harmed by its operations that it is accountable for and will remedy past and prevent future adverse impacts.”

 

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Gaps in Indonesia’s Forest Legality Verification System Put Forest Products’ Customers at Material Risk

A new briefing for international buyers and customs authorities finds legality system does not provide adequate assurance that Indonesian or international human rights laws are being met -- Additional due diligence is needed.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989, Emma@ran.org

San Francisco, CA -- Indonesia’s wood products audit and certification system remains inadequate in assuring legality, a new briefing finds. The briefing provides detailed recommendations about how the system can be improved to address these shortcomings.

Buyers wishing to avoid products that violate community legal rights, as well as authorities charged with enforcing import legality legislation, should refrain from relying solely on the verification system for assurance that products certified by the system comply with Indonesian law.

Known as the Indonesian Timber Legality Verification System, or Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK), the certification system was put into place to regulate Indonesia’s forestry sector. However, the briefing finds that rigorous, enhanced due diligence into the sourcing of forest products is still needed, even when those products bear a SVLK “legality” or “sustainability” certificate, before buyers can be confident that Indonesian forestry companies are upholding communities’ legal rights.

The report finds that  loopholes in the SVLK auditing standards and weaknesses in its application result in a failure to provide adequate safeguards against endemic corruption and violations of community rights. In one example, the SVLK standard so undervalues community rights that companies may be certified as “sustainable” even when an audit finds a company in violation of all of their legal obligations to local communities. Further, SVLK audits rely heavily on “desk study” of documents without any requirement for unannounced field evaluations to assess implementation. In this way, the report finds, companies are attaining legal and “sustainable” certifications even while violating human rights.

“Certifying forest products as legal, even while they are associated with significant violations of communities’ legal rights, contributes to the continued abuses of communities and misleads buyers about risks associated with forest products,” said Rainforest Action Network’s Lafcadio Cortesi. “Perversely, this false veneer of legality and sustainability may increase the market share of these forest product companies. What’s needed is for buyers to conduct enhanced due diligence and engage their suppliers, as well as the government of Indonesia, to improve practices, the SVLK standard and its application, so that communities’ legal rights are respected and enforced.”

The briefing recommends that forest product buyers and investors make it known to producer companies, home governments and the Indonesian government that communities’ legal and human rights are an important part of the legality of the supply chain and that the SVLK should be strengthened in order to provide better assurance that community rights are respected. Further, it calls on buyers to engage the EU government to refrain from offering a “green lane” to shipments with SVLK certificates until the weaknesses described in the briefing are addressed. The report also recommends that buyers and investors engage the Japanese government to further clarify and enforce Green Purchasing laws and to not accept SVLK as adequate assurance of legality until the weaknesses in the SVLK have been addressed.

For more information, the full briefing titled False Assurances: A Briefing for International Buyers and Customs Authorities On How Indonesia’s Timber Legality Verification System Fails to Protect Community Rights can be found, here.

 

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Activists Take to Grocery Stores Across US To Expose Controversial Ingredient in Quaker Products

Two year anniversary of campaign launches Week of Action against snack food giant for putting customers at risk of eating Conflict Palm Oil

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, 425.281.1989, Emma@ran.org

 

San Francisco, CA -- Today, hundreds of activists are taking part in a Week of Action in grocery stores and public spaces across the United States, engaging shoppers and rebranding grocery store shelves to warn customers that products from PepsiCo’s sub-brand Quaker may contain Conflict Palm Oil.

Activists are affixing stickers and placards to store food aisles to warn grocery store customers that they may be feeding their family Conflict Palm Oil. In addition, over a dozen activists have taken the lead to organize larger group actions, from street theatre to hanging banners, in Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stevens Point, WI, and Orange County and Arcata, CA.

The activists say that PepsiCo’s palm oil commitment, and that of its sub-brands like Quaker, does not go far enough to prevent Conflict Palm Oil from appearing in its products. Conflict Palm Oil is linked with deforestation, habitat loss, climate change and human and labor rights abuses. The activists organized themselves to send a clear message to PepsiCo: “The time to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from products is now.”

The Week of Action marks the two year anniversary of a campaign to pressure PepsiCo, the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world, to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its supply chain.

The campaign is part of a growing national movement to expose the threat of Conflict Palm Oil. Lindsay Vanderhoogt, a 24-year-old activist leading an action in Boston, said, “Whether we like it or not, palm oil is a part of our everyday lives. Palm oil is in everything from the food we eat to the shampoo we use. It's practically inescapable and irresponsibly produced Conflict Palm Oil is affecting our world in a very negative way.

“I'm excited to tackle this issue with my community in Boston not only because Conflict Palm Oil is something that affects everybody, but also because ever since the American Revolution, Boston has been a national leader. It's time for America to step up and take a stand against Conflict Palm Oil, and what better place to do this than in the ‘cradle of liberty’?” She said.

Rebecca Chung, a 16-year-old activist organizing a day-long event on Conflict Palm Oil in Orange County, CA, said, “I'm taking action in Orange County, because there's strength in numbers and education. I've always believed that if given an outlet to take action and given the information, the community would stand in solidarity against the injustices caused by Conflict Palm Oil.”

PepsiCo is one of the “Snack Food 20” group of companies targeted by Rainforest Action Network’s Conflict Palm Oil campaign. PepsiCo consumes more than 450,000 metric tons of palm oil annually for its snack food brands like Quaker, Doritos and others in the U.S., Mexico, Latin America, Asia and Europe, and its consumption of palm oil is on the rise.

Gemma Tillack, Agribusiness Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network said, “PepsiCo is starting to take these issues seriously, but it is lagging behind its peers as it lacks a truly responsible palm oil policy. The requirements it currently has in place have critical gaps that must be addressed before PepsiCo can meet the new global benchmark for responsible palm oil procurement.

“For PepsiCo to meet consumer expectations, it must adopt a binding, time bound policy with an action plan that includes full traceability of palm oil back to its source and verifiable safeguards for human rights, forests and peatlands,” said Tillack.

Growing pressure from activists continue to demand that PepsiCo prove that it has broken the link between its products and rainforest destruction, climate pollution and human and workers’ rights violations.


Forests and Finance: New Cash for Conflict Palm Oil

RAN briefing finds pending $900 million deal threatens forests, peatlands and communities across Indonesia.

Indonesian palm oil firm BW Plantation (BWPT) approved last week a USD $900 million share rights offering in a bid to finance its merger with Green Eagle Holdings (GEH). New stock not purchased by existing shareholders will be traded on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (IDX) from Monday December 8. 

RAN released a briefing note, available here, on the controversial deal today, alerting investors to poorly disclosed Conflict Palm Oil risks.

The deal expands BWPT's holdings from just under 100,000 ha to over 400,000 ha, propelling it into the rank of Indonesia’s third largest palm oil company listed on the IDX. However, 75% of the new land bank - with holdings in Papua, Sulewesi, West, East and South Kalimantan and Sumatra - is unplanted and includes large tracts of rainforests, Indigenous and local community lands, and areas of carbon-rich peatlands.

Tom Picken, Senior Advisor for Forests and Finance campaign work at RAN, notes, “The last thing Indonesia needs is a near-billion dollar injection of cash that will simply fuel further Conflict Palm Oil production. We encourage potential investors to steer clear of this controversial deal until BWPT discloses the true extent of risks, and publicly commits to no deforestation, no exploitation, and no peatland expansion across its entire operations.”

The briefing finds evidence of aggressive clearance of High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest since 2010, orangutans needing to be rescued from a Kalimantan concession two weeks ago, at least one case of serious labour rights violations this year in Papua, as well as a number of community conflicts in the expanded holdings of the BWPT plantations group.

BWPT is already failing to comply with its obligations under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) relating to new plantations, much less meet the additional “no deforestation, no peatland expansion and no exploitation” criteria of its major customers.

Actions on the ground will tell the tale.  For now, BWPT looks like the new bad boy on the block, making it an important target for intensified public scrutiny and accountability.


"Without clean water, we cannot survive."

RAN is proud to be an original supporter of ClearWater, which has launched an incredible new website today. Here are a few words from our friends at Amazon Watch about the important work ClearWater is doing and how you can get involved. "Without clean water, we cannot survive," Emergildo Criollo told me recently. You may have heard of Emergildo. An indigenous leader of the Cofan Nation in Ecuador's northern Amazon, he has been a relentless advocate for his people, speaking out about oil giant Chevron's toxic legacy in his territory. But today, even as he continues the fight to hold Chevron accountable, Emergildo isn't waiting for a cleanup that seems always on the horizon. Emergildo is taking matters into his own hands, helping to bring clean water to thousands of Indigenous people who have suffered without for decades. Rainforest Action Network is proud to stand with Emergildo, and the other Indigenous leaders who are part of an effort to address that dire need. It's called The ClearWater Project.

//www.youtube.com/embed/J7yt54MQleE

ClearWater began with a big goal: provide safe, sustainable access to clean water for every Indigenous family in the region, whose ancestral waterways have been poisoned by oil production and ensuing industrialization. In just two years, ClearWater has installed more than 500 family-sized rainwater harvesting and filtration systems that serve thousands of people in communities that have long suffered an epidemic of cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses that numerous health studies in the region blame on a lack of access to safe sources of water for drinking, bathing, and cooking. Our efforts have been able to make this impact because, from the beginning, ClearWater has been a collaborative partnership between the five indigenous nationalities here—the Cofan, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa, and Waorani—and international supporters, such as water engineers, humanitarians, activists, and philanthropists. ClearWater believes in collaborative, integrative, community-led solutions, where someone like Emergildo is coordinating amongst the different Indigenous nationalities to install new water systems, local youth are using GPS to map their biological and cultural resources, and frontline leaders are learning new media techniques to broadcast their concerns to the world. Clean water, health, and dignity. From this foundation, Emergildo and the Indigenous people of Ecuador's northern Amazon are building a movement for rainforest protection and cultural survival. I’m proud that Rainforest Action Network is a founding partner in this project, and I hope you’ll join us, too. Explore ClearWater's impact by navigating around this cutting-edge interactive map designed by another Amazon Watch family member, Gregor MacLennan, now Digital Democracy's Program Director. Learn more about ClearWater on our website or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
han-headshot   Han Shan is an Amazon Watch Advisory Board Member.

#RANFastFacts: Orangutan Umbrellas

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Pulp and Paper Giant APRIL Rebuked, Put On Notice

 interiorThe World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a group of 200 international corporations who claim commitments to sustainability, has put APRIL, Indonesia’s second largest and now most destructive pulp and paper company, on notice. APRIL has been placed on probation and the WBCSD will revoke its membership unless it can prove that it has ended its long-standing practices of rainforest destruction. The WBCSD, which counts PepsiCo and Monsanto as members, isn’t your usual advocacy group. It’s essentially a club of large multi-national corporations. To have them find that one of their own is so bad they are expelled sends the unequivocal message that APRIL is a rouge company. It’s also a clear signal to businesses that buy pulp and paper or finance the company that they should sever ties with APRIL as well as the web of companies controlled by Sukanto Tanoto, APRIL’s notorious owner. However, it is unclear whether this condemnation will be sufficient to push an end to the egregious practices of APRIL and its sister companies. RAN worked with WWF and Greenpeace last year to convince the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to disassociate itself from APRIL due to its destructive social and environmental practices. Unfortunately, the FSC action failed to achieve any major changes from APRIL, which is still logging and converting to monoculture plantations an estimated 12,000 acres of rainforest a month, often on land stolen from local communities. APRIL has 12 months to comply with the WBCSD Roadmap, which outlines proposed steps to end forest conversion and to conserve natural forests. If APRIL and its sister companies follow the principles of the Roadmap that the WBCSD has laid out – which include an immediate cessation of logging of rainforests – it will be a good start. But the WBCSD provisions do not go nearly far enough to ensure responsible forestry practices by APRIL. The scope must apply to APRIL and its sister companies and their supply chain partners. Suppliers and their performance must be independently verified. These companies must address the myriad of social issues, land conflicts, and human rights violations that they and their suppliers are responsible for. They must end any further incursions on carbon-rich peatlands. And they must address the legacy of negative environmental and social impacts, properly resolve land and social conflicts, and restore key ecological and hydrological areas that have been destroyed. APRIL has a long history of broken promises, forest destruction, and human rights abuses. Clearing intact rainforests to feed its pulp mills appears to be its key business model, with 60% of its fiber supply coming directly from the rainforest. This is a clear signal from the business community that APRIL’s current practices cannot continue. This must stop now. Twelve months is too long. For years, APRIL has offered only broken promises. Until APRIL can come into compliance with responsible forest practices, even beyond what is outlined in the WBCSD’s Roadmap, companies must cancel their contracts with this notorious forest destroyer. To read the full text of the WBCSD complaint, click here.

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