Between 27 April and 4 May 2016, indigenous representatives and community leaders from tropical forest countries in Asia, Africa and South America will tour Brussels, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK to raise concerns with high-level policy and decision-makers about palm oil supply chains and the impact they are having on their lands, forests and communities.

WHO:     Franky Samperante and Agus Sutomo from Indonesia; Ali Kaba from Liberia; Robert Guimaraes Vasquez and  Sedequías Ancon Chávez from Peru; and Willian Aljure from Colombia
WHEN:       Wednesday 27 April to Wednesday 4 May 2016
WHERE:     Multiple venues in Brussels, The Hague, Rotterdam Port, Bonn, Cologne and London

ISSUES AT STAKE: Europe’s increasing demand for palm oil threatens the livelihoods and very existence of many indigenous and forest dependent communities across the world. Rapid and aggressive expansion of industrial oil palm plantations and associated processing mills to supply global markets for edible oils and biofuels is generating multiple land conflicts, forced evictions, human rights violations, climate damage, forest loss and environmental harm in South East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Europe is a major importer of palm oil and associated “embodied deforestation” that supplies key ingredients for hundreds of processed food products, including margarine, chocolate and ice cream. Palm oil is also widely used in biofuels as well as in industrial lubricants, cosmetics, shampoos and detergents. Communities and civil society in producer countries complain that current private sector voluntary initiatives to regulate the industry, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and controversial climate standards like the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) are not sufficient to tackle the problem. They and allied European non-governmental organisations maintain that more robust regulation of palm oil products that come into the European Union is essential to better protect indigenous peoples and the forests that 1.5 billion people globally depend on for food and water security, livelihoods, rainfall and clean air.

In Brussels the delegation will meet with MEPs in the European Parliament and Director-Generals of the Environment, Trade, Energy, Climate and Development Aid at the European Commission as well as Commissioners’ cabinet members, to press for stronger EU regulation of palm oil entering the EU, including strict controls on the use of palm oil for biofuels. In the Netherlands the delegates will call on industry associations and importers to adopt a zero tolerance of tainted palm oil linked to land grabbing, rights abuse and forest destruction. The final leg of the tour in London will convene a press conference on 4th May to issue a public call for action to governments, international Banks, investors, and financial regulators demanding action to stop harmful investments and eliminate global finance feeding harmful expansion of the palm oil sector.

PROGRAMME

  • Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 April: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
  • Friday 29 April: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS
  • Friday 29 April: Meeting with German Governor and Climate Alliance in BONN, GERMANY
  • Saturday 30 April: ROTTERDAM PORT (Photo call), THE NETHERLANDS
  • Wednesday 4 May: LONDON, International Press Conference

Key Media Information

Delegates:

Franky Samperante is an indigenous representative from Sulawesi and is the founder-director of the indigenous peoples’ organisation Pusaka, which provides support to indigenous communities in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. In 2014, Pusaka published an atlas detailing extensive palm oil land grabs on indigenous peoples’ lands in Papua and West Papua.

Agus Sutomo is director of the Pontianak-based NGO LinkAR-Borneo, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The NGO works with communities whose lands have been taken over without their consent and helps them to file complaints with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

Ali Kaba is a program coordinator and senior researcher at the Sustainable Development Institute, a Liberian NGO working with rural communities in Liberia to protect their land in the face of ongoing, rapid large-scale land transactions.

Willian Aljure is a human rights defender from the plains region of Colombia (Los Llanos). He was forcibly displaced from his home in Mapiripán, Meta, Colombia, and has since campaigned to retrieve family lands and community territories lost to oil palm expansion. He has received death threats which prevent him from returning home.

Robert Guimaraes Vasquez is a member of the Shipibo-Conibo indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon and a longstanding leader and advocate of his peoples’ struggle to protect and secure their forest lands and resources. For the last 20 years, Robert has been a prominent figure within the indigenous peoples’ movement of Peru and is an outspoken opponent of palm oil encroachment onto indigenous ancestral lands in the Peruvian Amazon.

Sedequías Ancon Chávez is a representative of the Shipibo people in Peru and treasurer of AIDESEP (Asociación Interétnica de Desarollo de la Selva Peruana). Since 2014, AIDESEP have issued repeated warnings about the threat posed to Peru’s amazon by the rapid and recent expansion of palm oil in Peru.

Media Contacts:
For more details on the tour or to arrange an interview, please contact:

James Harvey, Forest Peoples Programme: james@forestpeoples.org
Tom Griffiths, Forest Peoples Programme: tom@forestpeoples.org
Wanda Bautista, Burness Communications: wbautista@burness.com

This event has been organised by Forest Peoples Programme in partnership with PUSAKA, Link-AR Borneo, AIDESEP, FECONAU, SDI, CIJP and CONPAZ; in collaboration with Both Ends, EIA, FERN, Global Witness, INFOE, SOMO, Oxfam International and Oxfam Novib.

As seen on Forest Peoples Programme on April 18, 2016