Three months since Procter & Gamble’s historic shareholder vote on forests, the company has no plans to end forest destruction.

The world’s largest consumer goods company continues failing to address concerns over its deforestation and forest degradation in the boreal forest of Canada and tropical forests of Indonesia and Malaysia. Read More

Today is Indigenous Peoples Day. Where is the finance sector?

Let’s be clear: all exploitation of resources by our industrial society depends on exploitation of the people within whose lands and territories those resources lie. Read More

BlackRock’s silence on forest destruction

Since 2012, BlackRock has had 15 chances to vote in favor of shareholder resolutions to halt deforestation. One hundred percent of the time, it voted against action on deforestation. Read More

In Crisis, Learning from Ecologies of Care

As we face this crisis, there are important lessons we can learn to build the future we want to see as we recover. One of those lessons should be that transforming our relationship with the natural world may be our best bet for safeguarding our future. Read More

We need our tropical forests more than ever

Our violent disregard for biodiversity and our own part in the web of life has generated a perfect storm of global proportions. When the world returns to normal – if the world returns to normal – let’s use this time to think about which parts of normal we want to return to. Read More

The Case for Deforestation Free Investing

Who wants to retire into a world blazing with wildfires, raging with floods, and boiling over with mass discontent? Read More

Harvard and TIAA’s farmland grab in Brazil goes up in smoke

TIAA, Harvard and the other institutions buying up farmland in Brazil and elsewhere around the world must stop pretending that their practices are sustainable. Read More

BlackRock’s recent statement on palm oil reveals an unhealthy addiction to climate risk

BlackRock, the $6.5 trillion Wall Street asset manager, has quietly released a statement on the company’s approach to engagement in the palm oil sector — an industry notorious for its role in destroying the planet’s last forests. Read More

In the Peatlands of South Sumatra: A Tale of Two Villages

The palm oil industry is responsible for destroying some 24 million hectares of Indonesian rainforest since 1990, much of it through burning. But because huge areas of Indonesia’s vast peat bogs have been drained and dried out to make way for the plantations, the industry has also unleashed flooding in places like Sumatra’s wetlands — flooding that claims lands and lives in a way that is largely invisible. Read More

RSPO should suspend membership of groups undermining Guatemala’s anti-impunity commission

Since 2017, Morales has been engaged in a battle against the U.N. commission, which was investigating his alleged violations of campaign finance law as well allegations of corruption by many of his associates, including close family members. The commission has also helped the Guatemalan attorney general bring charges against Guatemalan military leaders for massacres of indigenous peoples, as well as for acts of corruption by Guatemala’s former president, Otto Perez Molina, and several business executives allied with Morales. All told, during its 11 years operating in Guatemala, the U.N. commission filed corruption cases that implicated more than 600 people, including prominent businesspeople and elected officials. In January 2018, the commission’s investigation led to the arrests of three executives of Guatemala’s largest palm oil company, the HAME/Olmeca group, and its subsidiary REPSA. REPSA had earlier received international condemnation for a spill of toxic palm oil effluent that polluted the water and food sources of dozens of indigenous communities. In September 2015, when riots erupted following a court ruling of “ecocide” that ordered REPSA to temporarily suspend operations, Q’eqchi’ Maya leader Rigoberto Lima Choc was shot and killed. An international campaign ensued, which resulted in Cargill and Wilmar International — among the world’s largest palm oil traders — cutting ties to REPSA. Other companies, notably Nestlé, refused to accede to campaign demands, but finally cut ties with REPSA when the corruption scandal broke. Egregious as the case of REPSA was, it is just one of countless cases of violence against land defenders in Guatemala. Last year, 26 human rights defenders were killed in Guatemala, including seven indigenous land rights defenders killed in the month following a speech in which President Morales attacked indigenous organizations. Palm oil is the fastest growing agribusiness industry in Guatemala. Along with mining and hydroelectric projects, it is a major cause of land grabs that displace indigenous communities. Palm oil companies have been heavily involved in Morales’ campaign to stop the U.N. Commission Against Impunity. In an indiscreet interview given by the Guatemalan businessman who lobbied the U.S. Congress against the U.N. commission, it was revealed that NaturAceites, a company that already benefits from RSPO certification, played a key role along with HAME/Olmeca in supporting the effort to oust the U.N. commission. The consideration by the RSPO of increasing its membership in Guatemala comes at a moment when the human rights crisis in the country is becoming increasingly visible internationally, as Guatemalan migrants show up in record numbers at the U.S. southern border — many of them forced out by the expanding palm oil industry. Among the indigenous Guatemalans intercepted at the U.S. border was 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody last December. As a recent Reuters article explains, “Jakelin Caal, who died in U.S. custody after succumbing to a fever, left her village in the municipality of Raxruha with her father because he was struggling to earn enough to support his family as a corn farmer… While her father had not sold his land, others in the family have worked on palm plantations that surround their village.” With an unfolding constitutional crisis adding to Guatemala’s woes and clear indications that the country’s largest palm oil companies are playing a lead role in escalating that crisis, the RSPO has an obligation to send a clear signal showing which side of the crisis it falls on. Just a few months ago, the RSPO approved a revised set of principles for sustainable palm oil production that include the following: • Behave ethically and transparently. Drive ethical business behaviour, build trust and transparency with stakeholders to ensure strong and healthy relationships. • Operate legally and respect rights. Implement legal requirements as the basic principles of operation in any jurisdiction. • Respect community and human rights and deliver benefits. Respect community rights, provide equal opportunities, maximize benefits from engagement and ensure remediation where needed. In keeping with these principles, the board of directors and secretariat of the RSPO need to send a clear message to Guatemalan companies currently enjoying membership in the RSPO that they must comply with human rights norms, national laws and regulations, and international agreements. In order to responsibly address the unfolding political crisis in Guatemala, the RSPO should postpone the certification processes of all Guatemalan palm companies until GREPALMA and its members end their campaign to sabotage the U.N. Commission Against Impunity and desist from undermining the rule of law in the country. Read More

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