Unilever, Marks and Spencer and Sime Darby are at the forefront of working with governments and communities to meet their zero deforestation commitments, writes Eric Marx
Human rights concerns about the failure to establish free prior and informed consent (FPIC) are high in Liberia’s fast-growing palm oil industry.
According to Ali Kaba of Liberia’s Sustainable Development Institute, the Liberian government’s decision to award 50% of publicly owned land – where most Liberians live though they have no legal claim – to foreign investors under long-term leases for agro-forestry, logging and mining between 2005 and 2010 has led to many people being forced off their land.
People are losing most of their farmland, which is increasing food insecurity
“The companies started to obtain free and informed prior consent but most of it was through the government intimidating community leaders,” Kaba told a press conference in London in 2016. “People are losing most of their farmland, which is increasing food insecurity. Women are having to walk two hours to collect water, when they used to take half an hour. Logging activities are creating water pollution, and it is creating social fragmentation between leaders in communities.” (See Indigenous mission to EU tell of palm oil horrors)
Problems establishing FPIC have prevented Malaysian company Sime Darby, the world’s biggest producer of certified palm oil, from developing the concession of 220,000 hectares...