During its annual shareholder meeting, P&G leadership faced investor dissatisfaction and protests from Indigenous Indonesian community members, national U.S. organizations, descendants of the founders of P&G and Cincinnati residents over failure to address irresponsible wood pulp and palm oil supply chains.
(Cincinnati, OH — Oct. 11, 2022) — Today, commodity giant Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) leadership faced pressure both inside and outside its Annual General Meeting for its failure to address its role in driving the destruction of climate-critical forests. As executives convened with shareholders in a virtual meeting, a broad coalition of climate, forest and human rights advocates gathered at P&G headquarters to drive home longstanding demands that the company take action to address its toll on tropical and boreal forests essential to avoiding climate catastrophe and on the Indigenous communities who live there.
Two protestors were arrested after climbing flag poles in front of P&G’s headquarters. The company says they will press charges.
Major investor shareholders including New York State Common Retirement Fund, New York City pension funds, and Norway’s sovereign wealth fund all voted against Moeller during today’s AGM meeting.
Outside P&G’s headquarters during the shareholder meeting, dozens of people held a colorful demonstration outside its Cincinnati headquarters that delivered messages from Indonesian community members directly impacted by P&G’s operations, representatives from Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Cincinnati climate advocates and descendents from both of P&G’s founding families. Earlier today, over 70 Indigenous Batak men and women from nine different communities who are all in conflict with a pulp and paper company linked to P&G’s supply chain held a coordinated demonstration against P&G in North Sumatra, Indonesia, gathering on their contested customary land to deploy a massive banner that says “Indigenous Women Against Deforestation.”
Today’s protests come as the company’s leadership faced investor scrutiny for its failure to meaningfully address unsustainable sourcing of wood pulp from climate-critical forests in the Canadian boreal and palm oil from southeast Asia. At P&G’s 2020 shareholder meeting, 67 percent of voting shareholders urged the company to increase the scale, pace, and rigor with which it addresses environmental and social harms linked to its sourcing of pulp and palm oil. In response to P&G’s inaction, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and RAN urged shareholders to vote against the reelection of the three board members most responsible: CEO and Board Chair Jon Moeller, Angela Braly, and Patricia Woertz.
As both the protestors and the exempt solicitation highlighted, P&G, the world’s largest consumer company, is failing to live up to its own claims and commitments. This includes continuing to source from suppliers the company knows are causing serious human suffering and environmental harm. On the pulp side of its operations, one of P&G’s notorious suppliers, Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), is connected to a controversial pulp and paper company that’s been operating on dozens of Batak Indigenous lands in North Sumatra, Indonesia without their consent. One of the impacted communities, Pargamanan-Bintang Maria, has over 40 percent of their customary forest under the company’s concession and is at risk of deforestation indefinitely. The same company has a long history of criminalizing and attacking Indigenous human rights defenders as recently as this past August.
And NRDC’s latest Issue with Tissue report and scorecard, which evaluates the sustainability of toilet paper brands, found that more companies are bringing sustainable tissue options to the market than ever before. Yet P&G remains last among the largest three American tissue companies to still receive straight “F” scores across all of its tissue brands, including Charmin, Puffs, and Bounty due to its use of virgin pulp from centuries-old forests in the Canadian boreal.
On the palm oil side of P&G’s operations, Rainforest Action Network recently released a damning report exposing direct lines of connection between P&G’s palm oil suppliers and illegal deforestation occurring in the nationally protected Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve in Indonesia’s globally important Leuser Ecosystem. This new investigative report, Carbon Bombs Scandal: Big Brands Driving Climate Disaster for Palm Oil, reveals that public commitments by P&G and other major global brands are failing to stop illegally produced palm oil from entering international supply chains.
Using evidence obtained through field investigations, satellite imagery analysis, and supply chain research, RAN’s investigation proves that palm oil produced in this protected nature reserve, in violation of Procter & Gamble’s deforestation-free commitments, continues to make its way into the products sold by the company. Just last week, Bloomberg reported that P&G followed other consumer goods companies in suspending business with subsidiaries of Indonesia’s second largest palm oil producer due to human right violations and governance failures, following a long campaign by Friends of the Earth groups in Indonesia and the U.S.
KSPPM (Sumatra-based human rights and forest advocacy organization)
“P&G is contributing to landgrabbing and intimidation against Indigenous Batak communities in Indonesia through its business with Royal Golden Eagle. P&G must immediately suspend its business ties and demonstrate it respects Indigenous communities,” said Delima Silalahi, Program Director of KSPPM.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
“We have provided the leadership at Procter and Gamble with years worth of hard evidence connecting their operations with land stealing from Indigenous communities and the destruction of some of the world’s highest conservation value rainforest in Indonesia,” said Maggie Martin, Senior Forest Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network. “The price of continued inaction by P&G is mass human suffering, deforestation and climate chaos, and we cannot accept that.”
Friends of the Earth (FoE)
“P&G knows its palm oil supply chain is riddled with human rights problems and associated environmental destruction, yet P&G’s leadership consistently denies, delays and obfuscates,” said Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager with Friends of the Earth U.S.. “P&G may be known as a leader in home health care products, but when it comes to caring for the Earth and defenders of human rights, they repeatedly show it is their last priority.”
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
“Over the past two years, P&G has met investors’ calls for the company to address its forest impacts with a master class in industry spin, offering hollow announcements, disingenuous talking points, and even new forms of climate denial,” said Jennifer Skene, NRDC’s Natural Climate Solutions Policy Manager. “What should have been a wakeup call for the company to embrace real change to its forest-destroying practices instead revealed how ill-suited P&G’s leadership is to shepherd the company through a changing climate and to face the realities—and the opportunities—of a shifting marketplace.”
Representative of Procter and Gamble family descendents
“P&G must act now! Executives claim to take the climate disaster seriously, but they are clearly more concerned with endless financial growth than with ensuring a livable planet for everyone. As a descendent of James Gamble, I stand with the communities around the world impacted by P&G’s extraction and call on company executives to address the climate and human rights abuses in its supply chains now, before it’s too late.” Justine Epstein