Korean and Indonesian NGOs launch OECD complaint against palm oil company Posco for environmental and social abuses

Friends of the Earth U.S. supports the action against Posco, urges BlackRock, TIAA and other shareholders to drop company

Korea – A network of NGOs from Korea and Indonesia filed a complaint against Posco International, a Korean multinational, at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last week. The complaint alleges that environmental and social abuses linked to Posco and two of its Korean financiers, the Korean National Pension Service (NPS) and the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM), violate the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. 

The complaint further alleges that Posco and its financiers are responsible for large-scale deforestation and destruction of biodiversity as well as failing to adhere to fundamental human rights standards by violating residents’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and violating residents’ right to water at the site of massive palm oil operations in Papua, Indonesia.

“The palm oil industry creates many difficulties for the indigenous people of Papua,” said Y.L. Franky, Pusaka Foundation’s Director. “The forest they have depended on is disappearing and social conflicts are on the rise due to land disputes.” 

Between 2012 and 2017, Posco International destroyed nearly 270 square kilometers of intact rainforest in Papua province, home to endangered species and the Mandobo and Marind indigenous clans, who have denounced the destruction of their lands.

As revealed in the Friends of the Earth U.S report BlackRock’s Big Deforestation Problem, U.S. money management titan BlackRock is the 2nd largest shareholder in Posco itself, and the 3rd largest shareholder in Posco International, the palm oil plantation subsidiary of Posco that is responsible for the alleged abuses in Papua. Posco’s shares also show up in portfolios managed by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and TIAA, which manages funds for academic professionals nationwide.

“Posco’s abuses in Papua, egregious as they are, are standard operating procedure for many companies in the palm oil sector,” said Jeff Conant, international forests program director at Friends of the Earth U.S “It’s time global investors take responsibility for financing these abuses. This formal complaint to the OECD should send a clear signal to Posco’s shareholders, including BlackRock, CalPERS and TIAA, to take serious action.”

The OECD complainants are requesting a mediated dialogue to negotiate solutions to the environmental and human rights damages that POSCO International has caused. They also call on the company to adopt and implement a comprehensive No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation (NDPE) policy to prevent further damages, and to respect the rights of the indigenous peoples of Papua by stopping operations until given full consent.

Friends of the Earth member groups from the U.S, Indonesia, the Netherlands and Melbourne, Australia supported the complaint. 

Korean Transnational Corporations Watch (KTNC Watch), Yayasan Pusaka (Indonesia), WALHI Papua (Indonesia), and SKP KAMe (Indonesia) have issued a full report on Posco’s violations of the OECD Guidelines, available here. The press release from the complainants in Korea and Indonesia is here

Expert contact: Jeff Conant, (510) 900-0016, JConant@foe.org
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

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