Does the RSPO Care About Forests and People?

posted by Rainforest Action Network

Yesterday was the deadline given to IOI Corporation by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to resolve its social conflict with the community of Long Teran Kanan or else face penalties.

And guess what? The RSPO again failed to take decisive action against IOI. Meanwhile, IOI is sticking to its guns and defending its indefensible decision to open land for palm cultivation in violation of the law and the land rights of the Long Teran Kanan people.

Which begs the question: Does the RSPO even care about forests and people?

IOI Pelita Palm Oil Operations in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Photo:Eric Wakker
IOI Pelita Palm Oil Operations in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Click to view larger image. Photo: Eric Wakker.

The international community is outraged and sent the following Open Letter to the RSPO:

Dear RSPO Leadership,

With disbelief and outrage we have taken notice of RSPO’s announcement about ‘considerable progress in the past 21 days with regards to interaction between involved parties‘ on IOI Corporation Berhad Grievance Case. (RSPO website, 25 May 2011). We are dismayed with another prolongation by RSPO, and the lack of transparency in handling the process.

The complainants of the grievance have seen no improvement in the interaction with IOI nor with RSPO. Our feedback to RSPO, given jointly by all complainants, has also made sufficiently clear that we are deeply concerned that IOI Group’s current proposal will not resolve the issues.

Since the previous update on RSPO’s website from 4 May, we have not seen anything black-on-white proving that the company is willing to take responsibility for their illegal opening of land in Ketapang, or their willingness to mitigate the environmental damage done, or their commitment to recognize the land rights of the people of Long Teran Kanan. The company has not communicated with us directly about possible improvements of their action plan.

Instead of considerable progress, since May 4, we have merely seen IOI breaking down progress with increasingly vigilant public denials of its problems in Sarawak and Ketapang. An example of which is an article on IOI’s website that allegations against IOI would just be not true. This will not do.

We again call on the RSPO to take more decisive action to hold IOI Corporation to account, including a suspension of all RSPO certificates for IOI’s estates and mills, until the grievance issues are indeed solved.

With kind regards,
Lembaga Gemawan
Kontak Rakyat Borneo
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN-AP)
Rainforest Action Network
Sarawak Indigenous Lawyers Association (SILA)
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA)
Save our Borneo
Sawit Watch
Vereniging Milieudefensie
Friends of the Earth Europe
WALHI Kalimantan Barat