Frustrated by years of inaction from P&G, Indigenous rights and environmental advocates escalate actions aimed at pushing the company to act
Cincinnati, OH — Just days before Procter and Gamble’s annual shareholders meeting, a group of environmental and human rights advocates have deployed a massive, 1600 square foot banner off the top of Cincinnatti’s iconic Roebling Suspension Bridge against the Cincinnati skyline that reads “P&G: Stop Forest Destruction.” The historic bridge over the Ohio River has been part of downtown Cincinnati for nearly as long as the 185 year old Procter and Gamble company, and was the longest bridge in the world at the time of its construction. Today’s demonstration occurs amidst a rapidly escalating, multi-faceted campaign calling on the consumer goods giant to meaningfully address systemic failures of its corporate policies and actions to prevent forest destruction, climate pollution and conflicts with local communities that result from its large scale use of forest risk commodities like palm oil and wood pulp in its products. Several activists were arrested in the peaceful action.
Procter and Gamble is the largest consumer goods company in the world, and its annual shareholder meetings have become flashpoints of controversy in recent years, with a broad, international coalition of stakeholders, including local Cincinnati organizers, Indigenous leaders from communities impacted by the operations of P&G’s suppliers and business partners, descendents of both the Procter and Gamble founding families and representatives of conservation and human rights organizations traveling to the company’s headquarters to speak out against P&G’s continued refusal to take the actions necessary to end its role in driving climate chaos, deforestation and rights violations. P&G has made numerous corporate commitments to end deforestation and protect human and worker rights in its supply chain, but activists say its policy has major loopholes and it is failing to make good on its word.
“For years now, the leadership at Procter and Gamble has been presented with ample evidence of widespread forest destruction and rights violations being driven by its sourcing practices and business partners, but again and again the company has chosen empty rhetoric and half measures rather than showing the resolve necessary to clean up its act,” said Maggie Martin with Rainforest Action Network. “We are here today to demonstrate that we will not give up until P&G takes accountability and turns its paper promises into real world action.”
Procter & Gamble, the maker of well-known brands like Tide, Head & Shoulders, Olay and Crest, knowingly sources the ingredients for its products from suppliers that are complicit in destroying critical forests and the livelihoods of Indigenous communities. Among many examples, a Rainforest Action Network (RAN) investigation called the Carbon Bomb Scandals implicated Procter & Gamble (P&G) in illegal palm oil development in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem, in an area known as the “orangutan capital of the world.” Though P&G publicly committed to work with its suppliers to restore illegal palm oil plantations, an increase in deforestation in this globally important conservation area has recently been documented.
Ahead of this year’s shareholders meeting, descendants of the founders of both the Procter & Gamble founding families are urging their fellow shareholders to vote against current members of the board of directors, ‘due to the company’s failure to address unsustainable sourcing of wood pulp and palm oil from climate-critical forests in the Canadian boreal and southeast Asia.’ Environmental advocacy organizations NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Rainforest Action Network, and Friends of the Earth US all support the recommendation.
Under pressure from advocates across the world to improve its deforestation and human rights practices, in May of this year, P&G released a new Forest Commodities Policy that is actually worse than the policies it had in place previously.
In Indonesia, one of P&G’s largest palm oil suppliers is the palm oil arm of the notorious Royal Golden Eagle group. Many Batak communities in North Sumatra, Indonesia — including the Indigenous Batak community of Pargamanan-Bintang Maria — are fighting to get their lands recognized and against a RGE company named PT. Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) for decades, working to save their land from further destruction and for their legal land rights to be recognized in the face of constant threats.
A colorful rally is planned at P&G’s Cincinnati headquarters during the company’s annual general meeting where concerned citizens and advocates are invited to join in the call for P&G to end deforestation and rights abuses, next week at noon on Tuesday, October 10th.