Campaigns on supply-chains:Public art campaign aims at Sumatra’s palm oil industry, Campaigning matures with Mighty Earth, MEPs call for clampdown on unsustainable palm oil and use in biofuel

NGO campaigns, advocacy, technical work for and deals with corporate supply-chains has been a key feature of the 2010s. We can see several "waves" in the palm oil industry. First wave of WWF-Roundtables (mostly with Oxfam and others who are WWF members), followed by a second wave with of escalated policy via TFT-Forest Heroes-Ran (RSPO non-member NGOs) and now there is the rise of a third wave of social issues that is anticipated - here, other NGOs should be prominent, including those working on social and labour issues including Verite and others. Class actions and other campaigns also covered.

23 May 2017: Public art campaign aims at Sumatra’s palm oil industry 

Where there’s a wall there’s a way: artists take aim at Sumatra’s palm oil industry - When smoke from Indonesia’s palm oil industry reached the studio of artist Ernest Zacharevic in Malaysia, a unique project was born. Intent on making the world reconsider the environment, Zacharevic sold one of his prints to raise funds for Splash and Burn, a public art campaign. The title is a play on the ‘slash and burn’ practices used by palm oil producers to clear land for farming by Kate Lamb  15 May 2017

Each work in the Splash and Burn series was designed to highlight unregulated farming practices in the palm oil industry. Collaborators included the Sumatran Orangutan Society, a charity based in Oxfordshire, the Orangutan Information Centre in Indonesia, and a slew of local NGOs...Zacharevic says Splash and Burn is not so much anti-palm oil as a call to reconsider our environment.

26 April 2017: Documentary "The Borneo Case" 

Bruno Manser Fonds, 26 April 2017 -  The official Trailer of the documentary "The Borneo Case" Swiss cinema release in May - buy tickets here:

24 April 2017: Campaigning matures with Mighty Earth - it also questions meat, soy, cacao and more

Editor's note: Supply chain campaigning seems to be maturing with some wider ranging deforestation campaigning by Mighty Earth of the USA. It's not just about palm oil (note: recent deal with Olam, with World Resources Institute participant, below). It also talks about deforestation problems with beef-soy  and cacoa. Interestingly, many NGOs working hard on palm oil have been surprisingly silent on the consumption problem. The feeling was that it was too hard to talk to consumers, and beef and soy were of limited campaign interest (consumers are hooked on beef etc.), although contributing more to global deforestation than palm.

Olam and Mighty Earth on Gabon and Southeast Asia supply chains
  • Olam and Mighty Earth agree to collaborate on Forest Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture in Highly Forested Countries Washington D.C., February 21, 2017
  • Olam to pause land clearing in Gabon in truce with Mighty Earth February 22, 2017 by ANDREA SOH
THE ULTIMATE MYSTERY MEAT. Exposing the Secrets Behind Burger King and Global Meat Production. Report by Marisa Bellantonio, Glenn Hurowitz, Anne Leifsdatter Grønlund and Anahita Yousefi, RFN and Mighty Earth

  • 1,000,000 Square km dedicated to soy production
  • This soy production has left an enormous scar on the Earth’s surface. More than one million square kilometers of our planet - equivalent to the total combined area of France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands - are dedicated to growing soy.
  • In South America, soy and cattle interests have converted vast areas of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s Cerrado, the Argentine Chaco, Bolivian lowland forests and the Atlantic Forest in Paraguay from diverse native ecosystems into soy monocultures. From 2001-2010, an average of approximately four million hectares of forests were destroyed each year, mostly for soy and cattle.
  • The kind of deforestation we found in the Cerrado and Bolivia is not inevitable. In the Brazilian Amazon, Cargill, Bunge and other companies have figured out how to protect ecosystems and still grow their businesses.
  • After pressure from consumers who wanted sustainably produced meat, the major players in the soy industry teamed up and announced that they would no longer buy any soy grown on land deforested after 2006 (later amended to 2008) in the Brazilian Amazon. The results were dramatic: in the two years prior to the announcement, 30% of new soy plantations in the Brazilian Amazon came from destruction of forests. After the agreement, that number dropped to just one percent. 
  • On October 19th, 2016, Brazil’s Environment Minister, José Sarney Filho, attended an event to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Soy Moratorium. He cited the success in the Amazon, and called for an extension of the mechanism to the Cerrado.

For the beef-soy problem, Mighty Earth writes:

Change your habits. As an individual consumer, there are a few ways you can change your own life that can disincentivize deforestation for crops like soy.
  • Consume less meat. 75% of soy goes to feed for livestock. To help reduce deforestation for soy (and your overall carbon footprint), reduce your own demand for it. One consumer might not make that much of a difference on their own, but together we can be part of the start of a larger culture shift that decenters meat consumption.
  • Make more meals at home. One of the best ways to keep an eye on your own consumption habits is to cook more meals yourself. Not only can you better meet sustainability concerns when you buy all of your own ingredients, home cooked meals can be healthier, too. This isn’t a practical suggestion for everyone, but if you have the time and the resources, preparing more of your own meals can be a great move for our forests.

  • We Need Your Help to Stop the King of Deforestation MARCH 17, 2017
  • The Chocolate Crisis MARCH 16, 2017 
  • Cargill and Bunge face escalating pressure to clean up supply chain MARCH 13, 2017
Source: Mighty Earth website

Source: Guardian

5 Apr 2017: MEPs call for clampdown on unsustainable palm oil and use in biofuel -  approved by 640 votes to 18, with 28 abstentions

MEPs call for clampdown on imports of unsustainable palm oil and use in biofuel PLENARY SESSION  Press release - Environment − 04-04-2017 - 13:02 --  approved by 640 votes to 18, with 28 abstentions...

MEPs vote to ban the use of palm oil in biofuels -- MEPs say a ban, which needs approval from the European commission, is needed to avoid renewable targets contributing to deforestation, Arthur Neslen in Brussels 4 April 2017 18.04 BST -- While the report is not binding, EU lawmakers are now drawing up amendments to EU legislation which would be legally enforceable if approved by the European commission and council. “Today’s vote is just the beginning,” said Kateřina Konečná, the report’s rapporteur. “The European parliament has showed that it will no longer be silent on this issue, and we have asked the commission to act.”....Emmanuel Desplechin, the secretary-general of the European renewable ethanol association, said: “We call on the European parliament to translate its position into binding requirements and limit the contribution of transport fuels from palm oil and its derivatives to the share of renewables in transport in the renewable energy directive until peatland drainage is halted.”... Europe’s lobby of biofuels producers is one of the most powerful in Brussels, spending €14m a year and employing 400 lobbyists in total – more than the commission’s entire energy directorate, according to Oxfam.....

European Parliament votes in favour of strict new palm oil measures By Louis Gore-Langton, 04-Apr-2017 -- Today the European Parliament voted to implement tough new palm oil resolutions, which if enforced would see its elimination from use in biofuels and enforce stricter regulations on production and certification throughout the continent.

4 Apr 2017: Tasmanian dairy, deforestation pressure and conflicts

Tasmanian dairy uses palm oil spin-off in its cow feed - The Australian, April 3, 2017 -- Chief executive David Beca stressed that the product — which is linked to deforestation in Southeast Asia, including of orangutan habitats, as well as to biosecurity breaches and altered fat levels in milk — had certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. “(It is) the highest ethical and environmental standard accepted in Europe,” Mr Beca said. “PKE is a feed source of high protein and energy, which is safe to feed to milking cows, dry stock and young calves.”

Snake eats human in Sulawesi, under pressure of deforestation: Expert by Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Makassar | Wed, March 29, 2017 -- According to Rahmansyah, the forest was the python’s natural habitat but had continued to expand into a palm oil plantation. “It’s becoming more difficult for the animals to find their natural food,” he said....

Environmental Damage, Social Conflicts Overshadow Future of Indonesia's Palm Oil Sector By : Ratri M. Siniwi & Muhamad Al Azhari | March 21, 2017 -- Palm oil is an important commodity for Indonesia's economy, contributing $17.8 billion, or about 12 percent, to its export revenue. While this year the production of crude palm oil is likely to increase 16 percent, to up to 33 million tons, with expected conducive weather conditions, environmental issues and social conflicts continue to overshadow the sector's future in the world's biggest palm-oil producing country.

28 Mar 2017: Nestlé "very concerned" over deforestation links to Wilmar palm oil - RAN report, ZSL analysis reveals almost one million undisclosed hectares “missing” 

Nestlé "very concerned" over deforestation links to Wilmar palm oil By Louis Gore-Langton, 27-Mar-2017 Nestlé says it is "very concerned" by allegations that its palm oil supplier Wilmar International has again been implicated in sourcing palm oil from the protected Leuser ecosystem in Indonesia, according to a report by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Rainforest Action Network report here:

ZSL analysis reveals almost one million undisclosed hectares “missing” from corporate palm oil landbanks, 21st March 2017 -- 50 producers assessed... many have shown evidence of increasing the transparency of their operations in recent years. However, ZSL’s study  identifies that more than half of these companies have published inconsistent figures across their annual reports, sustainability reports and/or corporate websites, potentially leaving nearly one million hectares either currently unaccounted for or being used for unclear purposes.

Report here:

18 Mar 2017: Doubts on transparency in corporate commitments, fire-free programme, biodiversity issues, Indonesia land ownership inequality in spotlight 

Growth in deforestation commitments hides transparency issues By David Burrows, 17-Mar-2017 -- The number of manufacturers using one of the four key commodities linked to deforestation has increased from 67% to 71%, but a worrying number of targets have been missed or forgotten, according to a new report.

Fire Free Alliance Welcomes Malaysian Palm Oil Giants - Muhamad Al Azhari | March 16, 2017 -- The Fire Free Alliance, a voluntary multi-stakeholder platform to aid in the resolution of land and forest fires in Indonesia, has welcomed aboard Malaysian corporations Sime Darby and IOI Group, thus further extending the reach of their program across Indonesia and Malaysia.

Paichit – the baby elephant saved from a palm oil plantation in Indonesia - Orphaned at a few months old and nursed back to health by a local wildlife centre, Paichit’s story has serious implications for critically endangered Sumatran elephants - Kate Lamb in Indonesia,  16 March 2017

An impact analysis of RSPO certification on Borneo forest cover and orangutan populations

EDITORIAL: Inequality in asset ownership, The Jakarta Post March 16, 2017 -- The Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry has set itself a target of granting 5 million land titles this year at a cost of Rp 2 trillion (US$148 million), which will be fully financed by the state budget. Land titles will empower the poor to take maximum benefit from their physical assets, such access to bank loans. Usually, registering a property can be an arduous and costly procedure. Ministry data shows that of the 136 million plots of private land across the country, only 46 million plots have legal titles... Encouraged by the smooth implementation of a land reform pilot project last year, the ministry will also speed up the redistribution of neglected land, estimated at 12.7 million hectares across the country, to landless people around forests through local customary communities.,,Many plantation companies hold land concessions of more than 500,000 ha, or more than six times the land area of Singapore. We are afraid that if the expansion of plantations, especially oil palm, by big companies remains at its current rate of more than 100,000 ha per year, mounting problems of inequality of income, wealth and land conflicts could threaten the long-term sustainability of the plantation industry, even the macroeconomic stability.

National park fights back against illegal plantations, Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post March 11, 2017 -- More than 2,000 hectares within the National Park had been converted into plantations, which were mostly spread throughout Langkat, North Sumatra and Southeast Aceh. The forest conversions were mostly committed by local people who were supported by payments from outside investors. “Most of the investors come from Medan,” Joko said...

11 Mar 2017: Indonesia oil palm concession maps win for Forest Watch Indonesia, Amnesty-Wilmar, 

Indonesian Supreme Court orders Jokowi administration to hand over palm oil permit data - 10 March 2017 / Philip Jacobson -- Forest Watch Indonesia has been trying to force the Ministry of Land and Spatial Planning to release in full the maps of oil palm companies' concessions, known as HGUs. The Supreme Court's decision hands the NGO a victory in its freedom of information request, launched in 2015.. Once it receives the hard copies of the documents, FWI will scan and upload them on its website.. Forest Watch Indonesia, an NGO, has won its freedom of information request.

Palm Oil Giant Denies Covering up Labor Abuses in Indonesia By : Beh Lih Yi | March 08, 2017 -- Amnesty said in a statement on Tuesday that Wilmar — the world's largest palm oil processor — had asked its workers to sign a document to deny the investigation findings during a recent meeting with trade union representatives. Wilmar rejected the claim and said the union representatives had "voluntarily" signed the letters as "a show of support" to the company.

National park fights back against illegal plantations by Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post

9 Mar 2017: Some information on Europe grants here

Where the forest grants went, 6 March 2017 / Commentary by Harriet Williams -- What is the flow of grant finance around specific issues, forest regions, and theories of change? Where do gaps and opportunities lie? How do forest programmes operated by foundations and governments compare? The views expressed are those of the author.

22 Feb 2017: HSBC promises to cut ties forest-peat clearing companies

Editor's note: Reader asks if this is presumably done at concession company level and not on group basis?

HSBC promises to cut ties with forest-trashing palm oil companies, Blogpost by Annisa Rahmawati - 21 February, 2017 -- HSBC’s new policy - released today - says they will no longer provide funding to companies involved in any kind of deforestation or peatland clearance, both of which were missing from previous versions. Another big step forward is insisting that all HSBC's customers must publish their own forest protection policies by the end of June.

16 Feb 2017: Greenpeace gathers 228k Malaysia signatures in HSBC-deforestation campaign

Palm Oil Workers Investigated For Killing, Eating Endangered Orangutan
Slaughtering orangutans is a common crime on Borneo, but rarely prosecuted.
 02/15/2017 07:45 pm ET Dominique Mosbergen  Reporter, The Huffington Post

NGOs Slam IndoAgri Over Labor Rights Abuses and Poor Sustainability Policies

Malaysian customers urge HSBC to stop funding forest fires in Indonesia 14th February 2017 -- Dissatisfied Malaysian customers on Tuesday presented HSBC with a mock cheque with 228,434 signatures urging the bank to "Stop Funding Forest Fires in Indonesia." ..."We are asking customers to join this movement to urge HSBC to stop funding deforestation. In the past five years alone, HSBC has been part of banking syndicates that arranged $16.3 billion of loans to six companies whose palm oil operations have destroyed vast areas of rainforest, peatland, and orangutan habitats in Indonesia," said Octyanto Bagus Indra Kusuma, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner....Last year, the IUCN changed the classification of the Bornean orangutan from endangered to critically endangered, citing destruction, degradation, and fragmentation of their habitats, including conversion to plantations, as a main reason for the decline in population

Islanders take on challenge to go Palm Oil Free for a month 16th February, 2017  -- Members of the Isle of Wight Green Party are challenging themselves and members of the public to try to live palm oil-free during March. Find out why they are giving up Palm Oil for Lent.

Documenting the consequences of palm oil production beyond Southeast Asia 6 February 2017

Banks Finance More Palm Oil Than Investors: Investors Face Indirect Exposure Feb. 16, 2017 -- Published by Chain Reaction Research, and written by Fenneke Brascamp, Aidenvironment; Alexandra Christopoulou, Profundo; and Gabriel Thoumi, CFA, FRM, Climate Advisers. By financing the massive expansion of the palm oil sector, banks are contributing to deforestation, peat development and social conflicts. Analysis of bank financing - both loans and equity and debt underwriting - of 16 major palm oil companies from 2006-2015 shows that banks are more important financiers than equity and debt investors.

27 Jan 2017: How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia, Politician’s son a suspect over illegal land clearing in Leuser Ecosystem, Norway $400 million fund by 2020 in deforestation-free agriculture investments  

Editor's note: I understand that this is building upon the oligarchs-patronage theme that is now emerging, see 30 Dec 2016 posting and Eye on the Forest's latest report alleging tax and other irregularities.

How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia 16 January 2017 / Alice Cuddy - Slash and burn is big business in the archipelago country -- A “fire economy” has emerged in Indonesia in which the blazes tearing through the country’s land and forests, driven largely by the global demand for palm oil, are lining the pockets of local elites and their patronage networks, according to a new study.

Politician’s son named a suspect over illegal land clearing in Leuser Ecosystem 26 January 2017 / Junaidi Hanafiah Adapted by Philip Jacobson - A window into Indonesia’s problem with encroachment in its protected areas, often the work of powerful actors.  The son of a local parliament chief has been named a suspect over illegal land clearing in the Singkil Swamp Wildlife Reserve, a heavily protected area home to the densest population of Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii).... The case is the just the latest example of encroachment in Indonesia’s protected areas. The blame tends to fall on impoverished villagers, but the revelation of Rizal’s involvement highlights the role often played by more powerful actors....

Norway announces fund that will raise $400 million by 2020 and could lead to over $1.6 billion in deforestation-free agriculture investments. Fund will protect 5 million hectares in countries that are working to reduce deforestation and forest and peat degradation.

World Bank loans support high-carbon development in Indonesia: report 26 January 2017 / Isabel Esterman -- An analysis of the World Bank’s Development Policy Loans finds support for investment incentives that flowed to coal and other fossil fuel projects. -- Despite their stated aim of boosting low-carbon growth, World Bank policy loans to countries like Indonesia are creating subsidies for coal, gas and oil projects, according to a report released today by the nonprofit Bank Information Center. At the same time, these policy programs undercut efforts to conserve forests, protect land rights and develop renewable energy, the report argues. The report examined Development Policy Finance (DPF) operations in four countries: Indonesia, Peru, Egypt and Mozambique, which received a combined total of US$5 billion in funds from 2007 to 2016. Governments applying for these loans must agree with the World Bank on a policy reform agenda, which the funds are then used to support – money goes into the country’s general budget rather than to individual projects -- In Indonesia, DPF-backed programs were found to support the development of coal-fired power plants and roads in sensitive forest areas. Similar patterns were found in the other countries studied....

Link to BIC report here:

26 Jan 2017: Ceres-Oxfam guide to palm transparency, palm oil failed certification policies?

NGOs publish best practice guide on transparency in palm oil supply chain By Niamh Michail+, 25-Jan-2017 Environmental and scientific organisations, including Ceres and Oxfam, have published a best practice guidance on how to improve transparency in the palm oil supply chain.

The real impact of palm oil and failed policies  By Jakub Kvapil, Stanislav Lhota, Zoltán Szabó  Jan 23, 2017

18 Jan 2017: Greenpeace on HSBC. Grants list relating to banks and finance on sustainability policy from selected (mostly US) foundations.

Editor's note: Greenpeace's Dirty Bankers campaign features HSBC. Useful also to refer again to excerpts from the Climate and Land Use Alliance website on funding on sustainability policy relating to banks and finance. The largest individual grants (over US$ half million each) for finance or similar in its title or description amount to some US$12.7 million (see bottom of today's post). I am also reminded by a reader on a report on the tropical forest conversion impacts by commodity (report below ranks biggest by far as cattle, then soy, timber & pulp and palm oil is fourth on annual hectare count).

Revealed: HSBC linked to forest destruction Posted by Annisa Rahmawati — 16 January 2017 
This is a guest blog from Annisa Rahmawati, Senior Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Today we’ve let the cat out of the bag that HSBC - the biggest bank in the UK - is funding destructive palm oil companies.... Now customers across the globe are waking up to the news that the bank card in their pocket is linked to the destruction of already-endangered forests.

Greenpeace challenges HSBC on financing for palm oil companies - Claims bank funds groups alleged to be behind deforestation  JANUARY 17, 2017 by: Emiko Terazono and Martin Arnold

Greenpeace says HSBC among banks funding palm oil companies ‘destroying’ Indonesian rainforests PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017

Supply Change - Tracking Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-free Supply Chains, 2016 06 June 2016 | London, England

Excerpts from the Climate and Land Use Alliance website - search for "bank" in project title and description:

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to increase the World Bank Group’s commitment to engaging constructively in the forest
sector and to ensure the availability of more and better project‐level finance to reduce deforestation
and protect the rights of forest communities
AMOUNT:  $300,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: April 2016

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to develop a forest sustainability screen to reduce the impact of investments by the
International Finance Corporation and other lenders on forests and forest‐dependent peoples
AMOUNT:  $300,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: April 2015

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to ensure the World Bank develops adequate safeguards to protect people and forests
AMOUNT:  $300,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: April 2014

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to ensure the World Bank develops adequate safeguards to protect people and forests
AMOUNT:  $300,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: April 2014

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to ensure that multilateral REDD+ finance complies with relevant safeguards, and to promote
the rights and effective participation of forest‐dependent communities in its planning and
AMOUNT:  $100,000.00
DURATION:  3 months / Start date: January 2014

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to ensure that multilateral REDD+ finance complies with relevant safeguards, and to promote
the rights and effective participation of forest‐dependent communities in its planning and
AMOUNT:  $400,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: January 2013

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to contribute to the effective design and implementation of multilateral REDD+ initiatives by
ensuring meaningful participation of forest‐dependent communities and sound environmental and
social due diligence
AMOUNT:  $350,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: January 2012

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to strengthen safeguards, accountability, and informed civil society engagement in
multilateral REDD initiatives
AMOUNT:  $350,000.00
DURATION:  13 months / Start date: February 2011

Bank Information Center (BIC) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  for support in strengthening transparency and informed engagement in International
Financial Institution REDD initiatives
AMOUNT:  $321,750.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: January 2010

Bank Information Center (BIC) – Moore Grant
PURPOSE:  to support the final year of BIC's campaign to strengthen the requirements contained in the World Bank's Environmental Assessment safeguard policy
AMOUNT:  $250,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: February 2014

Excerpts from the Climate and Land Use Alliance website - search for "finance" and similar in project title and description:

Burness Communications – ClimateWorks Contract
PURPOSE:  to increase media attention on deforestation‐free commodities, forests, the role of
indigenous peoples in the climate change agenda, and opportunitis for effective climate finance in the
forest sector
AMOUNT:  $223,225.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: March 2016

Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to increase recognition of forest peoples’ rights in global policies, intergovernmental
initiatives, and finance, in an effort to address the drivers of tropical deforestation
AMOUNT:  $200,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: May 2016

Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to increase recognition of forest peoples’ rights in global policies, intergovernmental
initiatives and finance in an effort to address the drivers of tropical deforestation
AMOUNT:  $200,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: May 2015

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US – Ford Grant
PURPOSE:  to engage financiers of key palm oil companies to encourage better business practices that reduce deforestation and protect community rights
AMOUNT:  $200,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: July 2016

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US – Ford Grant
PURPOSE:  to engage financiers of palm oil companies in efforts to reduce deforestation and land
grabbing by plantation owners, improve global norms for palm oil production, and strengthen
community resource rights
AMOUNT:  $100,000.00
DURATION:  12 months / Start date: November 2015

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US – Packard Grant
PURPOSE:  to promote the adoption of strong Environmental Social and Governance policies by
institutions financing  palm oil supply chains, in line with global best practices.
AMOUNT:  $400,000.00
DURATION:  24 months / Start date: January 2016

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE:  to ensure forests are included in the discussion on the new post‐2015 development agenda
and emerging financing modalities
AMOUNT:  $250,000.00
DURATION:  14 months / Start date: November 2013

Pivot Point – Ford Grant
PURPOSE:  to develop options for delivering climate finance to community forestry and systems for
monitoring performance
AMOUNT:  $278,000.00
DURATION:  30 months / Start date: July 2014

Editor's note: Above are 10 of 46 found... please refer to more listings here..., and among the largest (over US$0.5 million each) are the following that total some US$12.7 million:

Stichting AERA (Aidenvironment) – Packard Grant
PURPOSE:  to investigate palm oil industry players and their sustainability risk profiles, and publish
findings in financially actionable terms for a global audience
AMOUNT:  $800,700.00
DURATION:  18 months / Start date: April 2015

World Resources Institute (WRI) – Moore Grant
PURPOSE:  to improve transparency and enable measurement of financial institutions’ and companies’ progress toward deforestation‐free commodity commitments
AMOUNT:  $1,554,439.00
DURATION:  28 months / Start date: November 2014

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Moore Grant
PURPOSE:  to move key financial institutions to make and implement commitments to eliminate
deforestation and illegality within agriculture (and seafood) supply chains in their lending and
investment portfolios
AMOUNT:  $7,994,616.00
DURATION:  25 months / Start date: March 2016

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Moore Grant
PURPOSE:  to support a transition to deforestation free supply chains for key commodities through the implementation of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) commitments and engagement of relevant
financial institutions
AMOUNT:  $900,000.00
DURATION:  32 months / Start date: December 2013

Ceres – Moore Grant
PURPOSE:  to support shifting businesses, investors and financial markets towards more sustainable
practices and policies
AMOUNT:  $660,000.00
DURATION:  25 months / Start date: November 2013

Stichting AERA (Aidenvironment) – Packard Grant
PURPOSE:  to investigate major palm oil industry players and their sustainability risk profiles, and to
publish findings in financially actionable terms for a global audience
AMOUNT:  $830,000.00
DURATION:  19 months / Start date: October 2013

17 Jan 2017: $13 million from Ford, Packard and ClimateWorks for efforts on palm oil sustainability (1Q2017 report list)

Editor's notes: These refer only to the Ford and Packard Grants and ClimateWorks Contracts and Grants for campaign efforts which refer specifically to palm oil in their purpose (there are others that cover palm oil in a broader purpose; possibly within World Resources Institute (WRI) c.$2.2 million and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) c.$9 million of funding received - not counted in the $13 million summation below), on sustainability policies starting 2010-2016. 

Excerpts from Climate and Land Use Alliance website:
At the global level, we aim to support public and private sector policies and finance that help achieve large cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from land use, and improve the land rights of indigenous peoples and rural communities.
Grants List »

Climate Advisers – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to encourage major palm oil producers to make commitments to produce palm oil with no deforestation, peatland expansion, or exploitation
AMOUNT: $250,000.00
DURATION: 9 months / Start date: February 2015

Conservation International – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to accelerate U.S. market conversion to sustainable palm oil and develop similar initiatives in emerging markets including Indonesia
AMOUNT: $250,000.00
DURATION: 15 months / Start date: October 2014

Food and Environment Reporting Network – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to produce news stories regarding biofuel and palm oil production, with a preference for success-oriented, solutions-oriented approaches
AMOUNT: $60,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: December 2015

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US – Ford Grant
PURPOSE: to engage financiers of key palm oil companies to encourage better business practices that reduce deforestation and protect community rights
AMOUNT: $200,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: July 2016

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US – Ford Grant
PURPOSE: to engage financiers of palm oil companies in efforts to reduce deforestation and land grabbing by plantation owners, improve global norms for palm oil production, and strengthen community resource rights
AMOUNT: $100,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: November 2015

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to promote the adoption of strong Environmental Social and Governance policies by institutions financing palm oil supply chains, in line with global best practices.
AMOUNT: $400,000.00
DURATION: 24 months / Start date: January 2016

Green Century Capital Management, Inc. – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to effectively implement the no-deforestation, no-peat, no-exploitation agreements made by palm oil companies
AMOUNT: $78,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: April 2016

Greenpeace Fund, Inc. – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE: to support continued work on campaigns and commodity market pressure to end deforestation caused by palm oil expansion in Indonesia
AMOUNT: $1,000,000.00
DURATION: 15 months / Start date: September 2013

Greenpeace Fund, Inc. – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to end deforestation caused by palm oil expansion in Indonesia through campaigns and commodity market pressure
AMOUNT: $1,000,000.00
DURATION: 24 months / Start date: January 2015

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to ensure companies implement policy commitments to minimize the social, environmental, and climate impacts of global palm oil trading operations
AMOUNT: $1,000,000.00
DURATION: 17 months / Start date: November 2015

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to minimize the social, environmental, and climate impacts of global palm oil trading operations
AMOUNT: $1,300,000.00
DURATION: 24 months / Start date: September 2013

Stichting AERA (Aidenvironment) – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to investigate palm oil industry players and their sustainability risk profiles, and publish findings in financially actionable terms for a global audience
AMOUNT: $800,700.00
DURATION: 18 months / Start date: April 2015

SumOfUs – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to support a campaign to move large consumer brands to improve their palm-oil sourcing policies
AMOUNT: $250,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: September 2015

SumOfUs – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to support a campaign to encourage large consumer brands to improve their palm oil sourcing
AMOUNT: $250,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: July 2014

TFT - The Forest Trust – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to develop and share innovations for North American companies to source responsibly produced palm oil and convert a major portion of the industry to responsible purchasing
AMOUNT: $228,000.00
DURATION: 18 months / Start date: July 2014

Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to reduce deforestation and its associated greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia by improving oil palm landscape management through better monitoring, reporting, verification and accountability
AMOUNT: $997,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: February 2015

Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to help transform the palm oil sector to a sustainable model via a transparency toolkit
AMOUNT: $250,000.00
DURATION: 7 months / Start date: July 2014

Ceres – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to encourage major consumer-brand companies to commit to sourcing Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO)
AMOUNT: $50,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: November 2013

Climate Advisers – ClimateWorks Contract
PURPOSE: to support a World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Deforestation to identify meaningful targets for sustainable supply chain management in four key commodity supply chains (beef, soy, palm oil, paper and pulp)
AMOUNT: $185,675.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: July 2014

Climate Advisers – ClimateWorks Contract
PURPOSE: to assess opportunities and risks for promoting sustainable palm oil supply chains in China
AMOUNT: $50,000.00
DURATION: 4 months / Start date: June 2014

Climate Advisers – ClimateWorks Contract
PURPOSE: to support a campaign to remove deforestation, peatland conversion, and rural violence from palm oil production (co-funded with Packard Foundation)
AMOUNT: $25,000.00
DURATION: 7 months / Start date: December 2012

Climate Advisers – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to encourage major palm oil traders to make commitments to sourcing palm oil produced without deforestation, peatland expansion, or exploitation
AMOUNT: $250,000.00
DURATION: 9 months / Start date: April 2014

Climate Advisers – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: for a communications campaign coordinated with rapid-response research on deforestation, peatland, and rural violence-free policies in the palm oil industry
AMOUNT: $75,000.00
DURATION: 4 months / Start date: February 2013

Climate Advisers – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to work with the Center for International Environmental Law to secure a favorable decision by EPA to not include palm oil in the Renewable Fuel Standard
AMOUNT: $71,650.00
DURATION: 7 months / Start date: November 2012

Conservation International – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to accelerate market conversion to sustainable palm oil
AMOUNT: $185,500.00
DURATION: 9 months / Start date: November 2013

Forest Trends Association – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE: to develop, produce, and disseminate a new Ecosystem Marketplace branded report on corporate commitments to low “forest footprint” commodities focused on palm oil, cattle, paper, and soy
AMOUNT: $245,000.00
DURATION: 13 months / Start date: January 2014

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US – Ford Grant
PURPOSE: to engage financiers of palm oil companies in efforts to reduce deforestation and land grabbing by plantation owners, improve global norms for palm oil production, and strengthen community resource rights
AMOUNT: $300,000.00
DURATION: 12 months / Start date: November 2014

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US – Ford Grant
PURPOSE: to engage palm oil financiers to reduce deforestation, improve global norms to reduce land grabbing, and strengthen community resource rights
AMOUNT: $400,000.00
DURATION: 18 months / Start date: May 2013

Glenn Hurowitz – ClimateWorks Contract
PURPOSE: to assess opportunities to reduce emissions associated with the expansion of palm oil
AMOUNT: $123,820.00
DURATION: 6 months / Start date: June 2012

Glenn Hurowitz – ClimateWorks Contract
PURPOSE: to support a global assessment examining opportunities to reduce palm-oil driven deforestation
AMOUNT: $105,000.00
DURATION: 6 months / Start date: December 2011

Glenn Hurowitz – ClimateWorks Contract
PURPOSE: to build support for U.S. and international policies and financing for tropical forest protection and to develop a campaign with the Girl Scouts to convince major palm oil users to take steps to reduce the deforestation caused by their products
AMOUNT: $100,000.00
DURATION: 6 months / Start date: April 2011

Greenpeace Fund, Inc. – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE: to further Greenpeace's campaign to stop deforestation and peat land clearance for palm oil expansion in Indonesia
AMOUNT: $400,000.00
DURATION: 13 months / Start date: December 2012

Meridian Institute – ClimateWorks Contract
PURPOSE: for organization and facilitation of CLUA-sponsored meetings on palm oil
AMOUNT: $87,060.00
DURATION: 4 months / Start date: September 2012

Oxfam America, Inc. – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE: to influence the food and beverage sector to make emissions-reducing changes in agricultural supply chains, particularly those of palm oil, soy, and sugarcane
AMOUNT: $250,000.00
DURATION: 15 months / Start date: January 2014

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE: to scale up ongoing work to reduce negative impacts of palm oil expansion through development of an integrated global campaign
AMOUNT: $400,000.00
DURATION: 10 months / Start date: November 2012

Stichting AERA (Aidenvironment) – Packard Grant
PURPOSE: to investigate major palm oil industry players and their sustainability risk profiles, and to publish findings in financially actionable terms for a global audience
AMOUNT: $830,000.00
DURATION: 19 months / Start date: October 2013

Stichting Oxfam Novib – Ford Grant
PURPOSE: to support work on scaling up sustainable palm oil production, building improved models for smallholder production of oil palm, and linking this work to NOVIB's on-going engagement on improving the sustainability of key internationally-traded commodities,
AMOUNT: $200,000.00
DURATION: 17 months / Start date: August 2010

TFT - The Forest Trust – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE: to promote responsible supply chains within the U.S. palm oil sector, including commitment to no expansion onto High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests or peat lands
AMOUNT: $201,000.00
DURATION: 18 months / Start date: July 2012

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) – ClimateWorks Grant
PURPOSE: to incubate a quarterly or semi-annual report on deforestation, peatland degradation, and rural violence related to palm oil expansion
AMOUNT: $240,000.00
DURATION: 10 months / Start date: January 2013

5 Jan 2017: Brazil Amazon rainforest ingredients featured

FOOD FROM BRAZIL’S AMAZON FINDS ITS WAY TO METROPOLITAN TABLES 2 January 2017 / Carolina Torres -- From small eateries to Michelin-star restaurants, food establishments are increasingly sourcing ingredients from the Brazilian Amazonian rainforest.

30 Dec 2016: 14 oligarchs and 4 million workers? Consumer pressure to reach Indonesia’s oil palm plantation giants, deforestation/palm-free global equity fund

Fourteen of the 32 Indonesian billionaires identified by Forbes magazine are palm oil tycoons, having accumulated their wealth at least in part through the industry. That includes six of the country’s 10 richest, and 12 of its wealthiest 20... (oligarchs and)... The industry is said to employ nearly 4 million people in Indonesia, although a substantial portion of them are day laborers who earn next to nothing.... The country represents a particularly extreme example of oligarchic dominance and distortion in part because wealth is unusually concentrated.
Jeffrey Winters, political scientist.....

Refers to: Focusing just on the net worth of the top 500 individuals or families in each case, the Senators of Rome were about 10,000 times richer than the average farmer or slave living in the Roman Empire. In the United States today, wealth is twice as concentrated – the top 500 Americans are about 20,000 times as wealthy as the average citizen. Singapore’s ratio is slightly higher than that of the U.S., at about 25,000 to 1. But in Indonesia, the top 500 oligarchs are about 600,000 times richer than the average Indonesian.

Consumer pressure to ditch deforestation begins to reach Indonesia’s oil palm plantation giants - A new report by Chain Reaction Research finds that some of the Southeast Asian nation’s biggest oil palm growers have issued stronger sustainability policies in response to interventions from their buyers. Will the trend continue? By Tara MacIsaac 28 December 2016

The Chain: Dimensional Fund Advisors Divests From Some Palm Oil Positions to Mitigate Risks By GabrielThoumi on December 25, 2016

Palm Oil Divestment Goes Mainstream - World's First Broadly-Diversified "Deforestation Free" Global Equity Portfolios Now Available to Everyday Investors - December 23, 2016 ( Newswire)

21 Dec 2016: Campaigners for no deforestation need to focus on human diets, Indonesia’s forestry ministry takes Greenpeace to court over maps, 187 Kalimantan land conflicts mapped, Sarawak Dayaks lose right to claim forests as communal area 

Editor's note: Reading findings on diet-production feasibility of a no-deforestation approach suggests that NGOs also need to focus on human diets as that is the "'strongest determinant of the biophysical option space, stronger than yields or cropland availability" i.e. vegan and vegetarian diets are more feasible scenarios for no deforestation campaigners.

Exploring the biophysical option space for feeding the world without deforestation by Karl-Heinz Erb et al. Nature Communications 7, Article number: 11382 (2016) -- ...human diets are the strongest determinant of the biophysical option space, stronger than yields or cropland availability. Unsurprisingly, vegan diets and diets with a low share of livestock products (for example, the VEGETARIAN variant) show the largest number of feasible scenarios.... doi:10.1038/ncomms11382

In pivotal decision, Dayaks lose right to claim forests as communal area BY SULOK TAWIE Published: December 20, 2016 -- In a 3-1 majority decision, the apex court allowed an appeal by the Forest Department and the state government in a case filed by headman Sandah anak Tabau and other seven other NCR landowners over an area in Ulu Machan, Kanowit.... Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Mohd Raus Shariff, in a written judgment, said there is no law in Sarawak that gives the force of law to customary rights claims by the Dayaks over virgin forests as NCR lands. He said the Sarawak Land Code, Tusun Tunggu (Codified Customary Laws), Iban Adat 1993 and a number of Rajah Orders only recognise cultivated land called “temuda” as NCR land.... Headman Sandah and the seven have claimed that they have customary rights over 2,712 ha of communal forest, also called “pulau galau”, in Ulu Machan, Kanowit, which they claimed as belonging to them since it is within their territorial domain, or called “pemakai menoa”. - See more at:

Study maps 187 land conflicts as palm oil expands in Kalimantan 20 December 2016 / Rachel Diaz-Bastin -- Indonesia is rife with disputes between indigenous communities and plantation firms, but the problem remains poorly understood.

Oil palm–community conflict mapping in Indonesia: A case for better community liaison in planning for development initiatives by Nicola K. Abram et al.  Highlights •Oil palm–community conflict occurrence was widespread in Kalimantan (187 villages). •Spatial patterns of conflict varied according to the differing types of conflict. •Forest-dependent communities were more likely to oppose oil palm establishment. •Opposition from forest-dependents' related to likely livelihoods/environment impacts. •Conflicts in transformed areas were associated with differing conflict types....

Indonesia’s forestry ministry takes Greenpeace to court over freedom of information request 19 December 2016 / Basten Gokkon -- The latest front in the battle for transparent management of the archipelago country’s natural resources.

12 Dec 2016: Olam in the spotlight on HCS and third-party sourcing

Olam takes aim at critical report on deforestation, palm oil sourcing December 12, 2016 by JAMIE LEE -- Olam said questions leading to the report came from a US-based communications and lobbying company, Waxman Strategies, working as Mighty Earth (Mighty) and with Brainforest, a Gabon-based non-governmental organisation (NGO). Olam took on two main claims made by the report. The first is that Olam is deforesting in Gabon through its operations there, and will not sign a no-deforestation commitment that adheres to the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) methodology. The second claim is that Olam's third party sourcing of palm oil comes from companies that are environmentally destructive and causing fire and haze.....

Olam International’s response to Mighty Earth and Brainforest report Singapore, December 12, 2016 - See more at:

Olam under fire over Africa deforestation

THE VIOLENT COSTS OF THE GLOBAL PALM-OIL BOOM By Jocelyn C. Zuckerman   December 10, 2016

8 Dec 2016: RAN investigator on mill linked to Leuser clearing, Wilmar stopped buying since October

CSR Sugar owner Wilmar International linked to palm oil deforestation in Indonesia orangutan habitat By Hayden Cooper Updated about 2 hours ago
The clearance has been taking place on a palm oil plantation which was part of the Wilmar supply chain, and in spite of a moratorium on land clearing in the Leuser Ecosystem announced by the Aceh Government..... The RAN investigators then filmed workers at the plantation loading a truck with palm oil fruit and followed the truck to a processing mill known as Raja Marga. The mill is listed by Wilmar International on its website as a supplier of its palm oil.... Ms Tillack acknowledged Wilmar had improved its sustainability performance in recent years, but said the latest footage undermined the company's efforts. "Two years ago, Wilmar did commit to stopping deforestation, to stopping the destruction of the peatland and the exploitation of workers and communities, so it has taken the first step with this commitment," she said. "But what we've found on the ground is that its third-party suppliers continue to destroy rainforests including those in the Leuser Ecosystem."....In a statement to 7.30, Wilmar said it shares the concerns about the Leuser Ecosystem and it has taken action on the processing mill which was filmed receiving the fruit from the land-clearing plantation. "Through Wilmar's own monitoring and due diligence, we have of our own accord halted buying from the company since October 2016," Wilmar said.

VIDEO: CSR Sugar owner accused of palm oil deforestation in Indonesia orang-utan habitat (ABC News) 

7 Dec 2016: Prince Harry calls for palm oil to be labelled 'like cigarettes' 

Prince Harry calls for palm oil to be labelled 'like cigarettes' on royal visit to Guyana - PRINCE Harry believes palm oil should come with a health warning because of the environmental damage caused by deforestation. By CAMILLA TOMINEY, SUNDAY EXPRESS ROYAL EDITOR IN GUYANA PUBLISHED: 03:32, Sun, Dec 4, 2016

MPOC comment, 6 Dec 2016, The Oil Palm <> is: As has been indicated previously on this blog and in research from the European Commission, Centre for Global Development and other organisations, the contribution of palm oil to deforestation is lower than beef, maize, soybean, and even infrastructure developments. In fact the deforestation footprint for beef is nine times higher than that of palm oil. If Prince Harry wants commodities labelled 'like cigarettes', other major commodities would also need to be labelled -- with even bigger warnings. Prince Harry is clearly oblivious to the fact that palm oil supports the lives of more than 3 million small farmers and their families in developing countries. 

1 Dec 2016: Amnesty International investigates Indonesia palm oil labour

By Amnesty International , 30 November 2016, Index number: ASA 21/5184/2016
The world’s most popular food and household companies are selling food, cosmetics and other everyday staples containing palm oil tainted by shocking human rights abuses in Indonesia.

Case studies: Palm oil and human rights abuses 30 November 2016, 00:01 UTC

Palm Oil and human rights: What you need to know 30 November 2016, 16:36 UTC


Firms such as Kellogg's, Unilever and Nestlé 'use child-labour palm oil' by Rob Davies 30 November 2016 -- “These findings will shock any consumer who thinks they are making ethical choices in the supermarket when they buy products that claim to use sustainable palm oil,” said the senior Amnesty investigator Meghna Abraham. “There is nothing sustainable about palm oil that is produced using child labour and forced labour. Something is wrong when nine companies turning over a combined revenue of £260bn in 2015 are unable to do anything about the atrocious treatment of palm oil workers earning a pittance.” She said allegations of child labour at Wilmar were not “isolated incidents but are systemic and a predictable result of the way Wilmar does business”...... When approached by Amnesty, seven of nine companies admitted that they use palm oil from Wilmar’s Indonesian supply network but only two – Kellogg’s and Reckitt Benckiser – offered any detail about which products were affected. The two companies cited “traceability” as a factor in why they had not been aware of abuses at the plantations supplying them palm oil through Wilmar. “Using mealy mouthed excuses about ‘traceability’ is a total cop-out from those companies,” said Amnesty’s business and human rights programme director, Peter Frankental. “You can be sure that if one of these companies’ products were contaminated and had to be taken off the shelves of supermarkets, they would ensure that they could trace the source to specific plantations.”...

29 Sep 2016: Slew of reports on palm oil 

Editor's note: Despite IOI Group’s reinstatement to RSPO on 8 August 2016, Greenpeace has a high-key and ongoing market campaign. It seeks redress for its allegations that its third-party suppliers that have been involved in primary forest destruction in Papua and Kalimantan, as well as peatland developments and human rights abuses. Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza, and kayakers blocked entrances to a docking jetty. The port reports that one harbour mooring (used only for palm oil coming from Indonesia) was affected while other traffic was not disrupted and that the activists were arrested. Media reports expect more Greenpeace direct actions in the near future.

What does Greenpeace's palm oil report mean for IOI & RSPO? By Niamh Michail+, 28-Sep-2016
Greenpeace's damning report on Malaysian palm oil supplier IOI, just one month after its membership of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was renewed, could be damaging for the certifier, according to one sustainability consultant.

Greenpeace report that accompanies the Rotterdam port blockade at Rotterdam...

Palm oil company with links to Tory donors accused of failing to prevent ‘thousands of acres’ of rainforest being destroyed - Former Prime Minister David Cameron once worked for the firm’s parent company, Jardine Matheson – largely controlled by the Scottish Keswick family which includes leading Conservative party donors by Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent Wednesday 28 September 2016

AidEnvironment‘s Sept 2016 report (for Rainforest Foundation Norway, Mighty, YMP and KKI Warsi)  alleges problems at Astra Agro’s Kalimantan concessions during the 2015 haze crisis; it cites a total of 677 fire hotspots in its concessions from July to October 2015, likely due to ineffective fire prevention and mitigation. 

At the launch of Mighty, Sept 2016, alleged illegal clearing for palm oil and timber by the Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo was launched in AidEnvironment’s report (Mighty, SKP-KAM, Pusaka, KFEM, FOE Korea, Rainforest Foundation Norway, Transport & Environment). The Indonesian government has launched its own investigation in response to the report, and that many of Korindo’s major customers have already suspended ties with the company. This week, our team is launching the campaign on Korindo’s home turf in South Korea

Rainforest Action Network notes that "PepsiCo’s Progress Report includes a new commitment to intervene on suppliers found to be violating its policy in Indonesia which is the frontline of palm oil expansion and human and labor rights violations in palm oil production" but seeks a deadline for it to break supplier links.

FORESTS & FINANCE - The banks and investors exposed to deforestation risks in Southeast Asia - 

See more at:              

5 Sept 2016: Korean palm oil firm accused by Mighty NGO

Korean palm oil firm accused of illegal forest burning in Indonesia - Some of the world’s biggest buyers have stopped trading with Korindo after the emergence of footage claiming to show illegal burning in Papua province, 1 September 2016 - Korindo’s alleged deforestation of pristine woodland in Papua province also threatens to destroy the last sanctuary of several birds of paradise and the tree kangaroo, according to a report by a new environmental alliance called Mighty. The group has collected evidence from drones, remote sensors, GPS satellites, and videographers and photographers on the ground, which it says proves that Korindo has flouted Indonesia’s no-burning laws and violated responsible sourcing requirements. Bustar Maitar, Mighty’s campaign director in Papua, told the Guardian: “Korindo is clear-cutting forests and then starting fires to clear the land of remaining biomass. That is forbidden by Indonesia’s regulations but during last year’s forest fires, most of the blazes in the Papua region happened in Korindo’s concessions.”... Korindo is active in Indonesia’s north Malaku region as well as Papua, holding around 620 square miles of forest concessions in total. The company, whose promotional video calls on viewers to “make the Earth green”, has already cleared around 193 square miles of forest. Maitar said that Korindo had not responded to letters sent by the new alliance, and that the new report was aimed at putting pressure on the Indonesian government......Several major buyers of Korindo’s palm oil acted to cut the firm out of their supply chains after hearing of the allegations.....NDPEs have become a palm oil industry standard in south-east Asia but the Mighty campaign argues that they are not working. Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty’s US campaign director, said that Korindo had been able to deforest 113 square miles of land since 2013, despite clearly visible satellite evidence of 894 hotspots in that period. “This investigation shows the true face of the palm oil industry in Indonesia even after No Deforestation policies,” Hurowitz said. “The current, mostly confidential company-by-company system is inadequate. We urgently need a transparent, systematic approach, as well as further action by government and prosecutors.”....

Video: The devastating deforestation of Papua for the palm oil industry, from above by Cassie Werber September 02, 2016

Korean firm burns rainforest for palm oil in Indonesia   3 September 2016

8 August 2016: NZ's Landcorp to stop using, but Fonterra stays with palm 

New Zealand farm company to stop using palm oil products - New Zealand's state-owned farming company says it will stop using palm kernel products to feed its animals as it seeks to take better care of the environment Aug. 8, 2016, at 2:38 a.m.  --  Farmers typically use imported palm kernel cake, also known as expeller, as part of a diet for dairy cows, especially during the winter or when natural feed is low. The cake is a byproduct of palm oil production. Palm oil is a common ingredient in many household products, from margarine to lipstick.  Carden said the company will replace palm products with locally grown alternatives like maize silage and chicory. ........... Landcorp is one of the largest farming companies in New Zealand, with 140 farms and 850,000 animals. It uses about 15,000 metric tons of palm cake each year. But thousands of dairy farmers who provide milk to the country's biggest company Fonterra will continue to use the product, after Fonterra said Monday it had no immediate plans to stop using it....Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace said Monday it welcomed Landcorp's move and hopes that Fonterra will soon follow suit.....

27 July 2016: FOE on investors

US investors ploughing billions into palm oil, claims report - Friends of the Earth warns investors they could be unknowingly contributing to deforestation and land grabs, and calls on them to show leadership by Oliver Milman 26 July 2016 -- According to the FoE report, BlackRock, the Vanguard Group, JPMorgan and Fidelity Investments have almost $13bn in holdings in palm oil between them. In the report, FoE claims that pension funds CalPERS and TIAA-CREF also have investments of more than $100m each in palm oil activity, with overseas land and agriculture “widely perceived as low-risk asset classes” for investor portfolios. Joe DeAnda, a spokesperson for CalPERS, said: “We don’t have anything specific to palm oil – as such holding[s] are likely de minimus in the portfolio.” However, DeAnda says CalPERS has an extensive and detailed investment policy, which includes environmental considerations like climate change....

25 July 2016: Nigeria talks lipid and CVD and Texas story on biodiversity

‘You don’t need that much palm oil’ By: OYEYEMI GBENGA-MUSTAPHAon: July 21, 2016 In: HEALTH -- OYEYEMI GBENGA-MUSTAPHA writes that reducing the quantity of palm oil consumed can further reduce heart diseases. The rate at which Nigerians consume palm oil is raising concerns. This is because palm oil has been identified to be a significant factor causing cardio vascular diseases (CVDs). According to health experts, cooking at home with unmeasured palm oil, eating out at Bukateria, also known as Buka, Mama put or canteen, to eating assorted meats known as orisirisi, as well as consuming ‘butter and bread’ could cause CVDs such as heart attack.... The authorities converged at a summit on Lipids and Cardiovascular health among Nigerians. It was organised by the Nigerian Heart Foundation and National Heart Health and Nutrition... They also lamented that there are many brands of vegetable and animal oils in the market without appropriate labeling of their constituents and origin (plant or animal source).

Bornean orangutans now critically endangered, with change blamed on palm oil  Submitted by Joshua Cobb on July 20, 2016

Can palm oil be sustainable?  July 21, 2016 Source: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis Summary: A new study shows to where and to what extent palm oil plantations could be expanded, while avoiding further deforestation in pristine and carbon-rich tropical forests.

12 July 2016: More worries about food waste, palm, beef and seafood

The Hidden Consequences of Food Waste 07/11/2016 by Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA  -- Food waste is especially unforgivable. Millions of people are malnourished or going hungry, not only in developing countries but here in the US, while grocery stores, restaurants and homes are throwing away tons of perfectly edible and nutritious food every day. But the problem is not just the food that’s wasted when leftovers go in the trash. It’s also all of the greenhouse gas emissions, water, biodiversity loss and soil & air pollution that was generated to create that food only for it to be tossed away uneaten. To understand the full impact of wasting food, we have to look at where that food comes from and where the wasted food goes.

7 July 2016: IPOP disbands and NGOs call for soy, palm oil and beef deforestation laws, pulpwood tree plantations least popular with locals

IPOP disbands: A step backwards for sustainable palm oil in Indonesia? By Niamh Michail+, 05-Jul-2016 -- After less than two years in existence, the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge has disbanded to the dismay of environmentalists who say its member companies were bullied by the Indonesian government into adopting weaker standards.

NGOs call for soy, palm oil and beef deforestation laws By David Burrows , 05-Jul-2016 -- NGOs have urged the EU to expand regulations that curb deforestation beyond timber to encompass commodities like soy, palm oil and beef.

5 Food Commodities Produce More GHGs than Any Country Apart from China, U.S. June 27, 2016 by Sustainable Brands -- New research commissioned by Oxfam shows that rice, soy beans, corn, wheat and palm oil together lead to more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than any country’s individual footprint, with the exception of emissions giants China and the United States. The organization asserts that without making drastic emissions cuts to these five food commodities’ supply chains, the Paris Agreement’s goals to reach ‘net-zero’ by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will not be met.... Today, Oxfam released a report prepared by research consultancy CE Delft, Feeding Climate Change, as well as an online interactive data tool that illustrates the scale of greenhouse gases produced by various food commodities around the world. They also examine the global production and water scarcity footprint of each commodity....Greenhouse gasses produced annually by each commodity - Tonnes of CO2 equivalent ranks highest as rice, soybeans, maize, palm oil, wheat, sugar cane... 

links: and

What do locals think of large-scale tree plantations? Tree type can make a difference for people living near plantations in Indonesia. ROMAIN PIRARD 1 Jul 2016  -- For the study, CIFOR scientists conducted hundreds of interviews in a variety of tree plantations across the Indonesian archipelago. Results show that local perceptions vary depending on a number of factors, including tree species, rotation periods, level of economic development in the area, or plantation lifespans.... TREE TYPE MATTERS. Fast-growing and land-hungry pulpwood estates, using species like acacia and eucalyptus, are among the most negatively received. These pulpwood plantations have spread to cover millions of hectares of land across the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan in recent decades. In interviews, local populations complained of limited access to land for cultivation, few positive contributions to local livelihoods and several negative impacts on biodiversity and environmental services as a result of the plantations.   et there was some level of acknowledgment for the capacity of estates to open up areas with limited infrastructure.... In contrast, teak and pine plantations, such as those long established on the island of Java, are much more positively received. These estates are praised for providing jobs, revenue and improved environmental services, including clean water and local climate regulation. Specifically, pine plantations offer beneficial distribution of rights to tap resin, while teak plantations are seen to increase access to land, goods and services....Rotation periods were found to be an influencing factor for local perceptions. Pine and teak plantations with a long history of development and relatively long rotations appear to be well integrated in the social landscape of Java. Meanwhile, newly established acacia pulpwood plantations with short rotations are shown to trigger more antagonistic views and have a harder time earning local recognition of any positive impacts....

Latin America most dangerous region for environmentalists in 2015 by LINDSAY FENDT JUNE 19 2016 -- Latin America remains the most dangerous region for environmental activists, according to a new report from the U.K.-based watchdog group Global Witness. Now in its third iteration, the report, “On Dangerous Ground,” assembled information on the known worldwide murders of environmentalists and land defenders in 2015.  With 185 recorded deaths, 2015 was the deadliest year on record for environmentalists. “As demand for products like minerals, timber and palm oil continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are seizing land in defiance of the people who live in it,” said Global Witness campaign leader Billy Kyte. “Communities that take a stand are increasingly finding themselves in the firing line of companies’ private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers.”  More than 65 percent of the murders tallied by Global Witness in 2015 occurred in Latin America, with 50 environmentalists killed in Brazil alone. Activists were also killed in Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Most of the murders in the region stemmed from conflicts related to mining, agri-business and hydroelectric dams, according to Global Witness, with indigenous people disproportionality affected.

24 June 2016: Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil kicks off soon

Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil kicks off on Monday 27 June at Marina Bay Sands - convened by WWF, Unilever, Ayam Brand and Ikea. 

Rainforest Action Network: Workers Exploited at Indonesia's Palm Oil Estates, 11 June 2016 -- San Francisco-based environmental organization Rainforest Action Network (RAN) released a report last week that claims Indonesian workers - including children - at North Sumatran palm oil plantations are being exploited. On two palm oil plantations owned by PP London Sumatra Indonesia, a unit of the Indonesian Indofood Group, researchers of RAN found evidence of child labor, unethically low wages, as well as other forms of worker exploitation. The report also links American multinational food and beverage firm PepsiCo Inc's products to the exploitation....

Exploitation, child labor found in Indonesia palm oil linked to PepsiCo: charities BY BEH LIH YI Jun 15, 2016

13 June 2016: Worries about Indonesia "casual labour" and issues. EU activists are concerned about rise of palm biodiesel.

Editor's note: The Indonesia labour problem of high use of “casual labour” was discussed at RSPO RT in Nov 2015, so the emergence of NGO reports on this is expected. Malaysia’s labour problem is on migrant labour.

Palm Oil's Human Cost Alleged in New Report - Indonesian plantations are accused of exploitative labor conditions and other harmful practices by a coalition of nonprofit groups., JUNE 8, 2016 -- The report, "The Human Cost of Conflict Palm Oil," details the results of an on-the-ground investigation into the conditions of workers on two representative palm oil plantations in Sumatra, Indonesia.....  Roughly 50 percent of workers on the two plantations are casual laborers who do a variety of jobs, from harvesting to caring for the oil palms. Many of these workers lack health care and other benefits and are paid low wages. While casual workers are supposed to be temporary (no more than three months), many have been employed for years without promotion to permanent status.... Allegedly unrealistic daily quotas set by the company force harvesters to hire helpers, called “kernet workers,” who have no direct employment relationship with companies and are paid by the workers themselves. These invisible workers.... Children often help their parents or other harvesters meet high quotas by collecting fruit and transporting fruit bunches. Typically, the children drop out of school. It’s a vicious circle....women workers and child laborers—who perhaps suffer the most under the impossibly high quotas and unethically low inability to organize and collectively bargain through independent unions....  spraying pesticides and spreading fertilizer, with a disproportionate number of women in these positions. However, they are often not provided with health and safety equipment, and many workers report using the pesticide Gramoxone, which contains Paraquat, a hazardous herbicide banned in many Western countries.....
Source: Image of cover of Rainforest Action Network et al report on Indonesia labour. Excerpt: In order to understand the impact of this exclusion on palm oil workers, a team of researchers investigated the living and working conditions of laborers on two palm oil plantations ...(of) PT PP London Sumatra Tbk‘s (Lonsum), located on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.... Investigations were conducted in September and October 2015 by a team of researchers through one-on-one interviews with workers; examination of workers’ documents such as pay slips, letters and work agreements; and on-site observation of workers performing their work duties, workers’ living conditions and the plantations’ amenities. Forty-one Indofood workers were individually interviewed for this investigation.

Forest-destroying palm oil powers cars in EU: report by Marlowe Hood, June 1, 2016 AFP --

Biodieselgate? British industry leads EU on elimination of palm oil biofuels, says REA 1 June 2016, source edie newsroom --

Unclear if France will revisit ‘discriminatory’ palm oil tax 6 June 2016 / Loren Bell

New GRAIN article: ADM’s offshore links to Wilmar, world’s worst environmental offender by GRAIN | 08 June 2016 -- Wilmar, based in Singapore, amassed 600,000 hectares of oil palm plantations through deforestation and the violent eviction of local communities. Newsweek magazine ranked it as the world’s “worst” corporation in terms of environmental performance. But this criticism of Wilmar rarely spills over to ADM, one of its top shareholders. Few people appear to be aware of the offshore structure through which ADM and Wilmar are so deeply entwined.

RAN Finds Japanese Companies Misreporting Sustainability, Linked to Deforestation June 2, 2016 by Hannah Furlong -- NGO Rainforest Action Network (RAN) claims it has found many Japanese companies are either “systematically misreporting compliance” under Japan’s Corporate Governance Code, or have a “fundamental lack of understanding as to what constitutes meaningful sustainability reporting and stakeholder engagement.” In June 2015, Japan introduced a Corporate Governance Code intended to increase transparency and oversight related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. RAN marked the first anniversary of the its implementation by evaluating the Code reports of ten major Japanese companies with known links to tropical deforestation and associated social risks through their supply chains, trading divisions or financial relationships. The NGO asserts that none of the companies are sufficiently disclosing their risks, and advises shareholders to take heed....

30 May 2016: Cows and deforestation - a new worry for retail supply chains? One-third of Europe soy imports will be certified, Protesters Scale Iconic NYC Pepsi Sign to drop 100’ “Cut Conflict Palm Oil” Banner

Editor's note: Thanks to a reader for pointing out this article, and also to another for this link a few months ago on the same, 

Why cows are the new palm oil for retail supply chains by Christina MacFa... May 26, 2016... Based on last year’s annual Forest 500 assessment, only three (10 percent) of the 29 retailers received four out of the maximum five points available for policies related to cattle and deforestation. This reflects reasonable efforts by the three companies — Marks and Spencer, Burger King and Walmart — but also shows that strong policy leadership in this supply chain has yet to fully emerge.

Marketing sustainable soy: 'Invisible but important' or loud and proud? By Niamh Michail+, 24-May-2016 By the end of 2017 one third of soy imported into Europe will be certified, says the Roundtable on Responsible Soy, but will consumers know it?

The Price of Palm Oil Business Daily Listen in pop-out player, Mon 30 May 2016 15:32 Local time BBC WORLD SERVICE.... Murder and theft, as well as environmental destruction, lurk behind this staple ingredient of supermarket foods and toiletries - as presenter Manuela Saragosa discovers. A Colombian farmer recounts the crimes committed against his own family in order to take control of his land, while Agus Sutomo of the pressure group Forest Peoples Programme explains how palm oil farming goes hand-in-hand with human rights abuses in many parts of the world....

Rain forest advocacy group installs 15-foot banner on LIC Pepsi-Cola sign to protest palm oil  By Angela Matua  /  / Monday, April 25, 2016

BREAKING: Protesters Scale Iconic NYC Pepsi Sign to drop 100’ “Cut Conflict Palm Oil” Banner by JESSICA SERRANTE

Greenpeace, McDonald’s and the power of collaboration Bob Langert April 18, 2016

Wilmar International says it recognises issues raised in Indonesia NGO alliance report on illegal palm oil APR 15, 2016 -- Singapore-based Wilmar International has said that it recognises the challenges raised in an investigation by an Indonesian green coalition that found palm oil from illegal plantations in Sumatra had tainted the global supply chains of Wilmar and four other top palm oil companies. Wilmar is the top global player in the palm oil sector, producing and trading almost half the world's palm oil.

19 May 2016: Recent Greenpeace video, "Eye on Forest" report critiques traceability

Dove Onslaught(er) GreenpeaceVideo
Green Peace commercial about Palm. It’s still on TV in Europe.

No one is safe - Illegal Indonesian palm oil spreads through global supply chains despite global sustainability commitments and certification. Investigative Report, Eyes on the Forest, Published in April 2016. Eyes on the Forest (EoF) is a coalition of environmental NGOs in Riau, Sumatra: Friends of the Earth “Walhi” Riau Office, Jikalahari "Riau Forest Rescue Network" and WWF-Indonesia, Riau Program. EoF monitors the status of the remaining natural forests in Sumatra's Province of Riau and disseminates the information worldwide. 

For more news on Eyes on the Forest, go to: For photos and maps, go to: Email: editor(at)

17 April 2016: Indigenous campaigners to tour Europe

Indigenous leaders from threatened tropical forests to launch tour in Europe; will challenge ...14th April 2016; ...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.

4 Mar 2016: Greenpeace report on implementation of "no deforestation" pledges

Editor's note: Greenpeace has released a new report on palm oil use and deforestation pledges. I've put in screenshots from the Greenpeace imagery on the topic - note the messaging on the health of children and babies, oil palm being planted on burnt land and orangutans losing their habitat in the peat-fire driven burning.

Palm oil: who’s still trashing forests? Blogpost by Annisa Rahmawati - 3 March, 2016 at 3:451 comment; How 'clean' is the palm oil used by major brands around the world? Today, we're releasing the results of our investigation into which companies are keeping promises to stop deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil. Take a look now to see who's keeping up - and who's lagging way behind....

Leading brands unsure if palm oil in products comes from rainforest land - Greenpeace claims brands such as PepsiCo and Mars cannot guarantee palm oil used in products comes from environmentally sound sources by Kate Lamb in Jakarta Thursday 3 March 2016....

17 Feb 2016: News review in progress - deforestation and Wilmar supply-chain questions

Is this Malaysian palm oil firm still destroying forest in Borneo — and selling to Wilmar? A Greenomics report finds deforestation in the supply chain of Genting Plantations, a supplier of Wilmar International. By Jonathan Vit, Mongabay 11 February 2016

19 December 2015: China looks at printing industry, European consumers hypocritical says Porritt, the confusion of corporate forest commitments, Greenpeace and RSPO criticizes government authorities,  Europe pushes for more sustainable palm oil, Sierra Leone not ready for RSPO yet, Starbucks and RSPO criticised

China calls for the printing industry to move away from solvent-based technologies 16-Dec-2015 As the beauty label and package printing industry shifts its focus towards sustainability, the Chinese government is encouraging a move away from traditional solvent-based printing technologies and towards flexography.

European consumers hypocritical, says Porritt by Alexander Winifred December 14, 2015

Does the World Need More Corporate Forest Commitments? by Katie McCoy Head of forests, CDP  12/17/2015; In the run up to the historic climate talks just concluded in Paris, we saw an increasing number of companies announcing ambitious and unprecedented commitments to protect the environment, not least on deforestation. Arguably it was one of the many reasons why policymakers were emboldened to come to such an ambitious accord. While this is welcome, we all know that what matters most is not making promises, but keeping them. CDP's data shows that commitments around reducing or removing deforestation are yet to successfully transition to action. This begs the question, should we be asking more companies to make pledges in this area when few appear to be delivering on them? What point do these pledges serve in any case? How do we hold companies accountable to them? And what's holding them back from achieving them? ....  The data suggests that these commitments aren't coming through to the marketplace. While companies are often looking to buy certified products with labels like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), they are a long way from meeting their corporate goals. For example, 26% of companies are yet to get any certified palm oil (a key driver of deforestation in S.E. Asia) into their product supply chains, despite having commitments to do so.  And at the moment only a quarter of manufacturers and retailers are running workshops or training with their suppliers to help change this situation. Even fewer (13%) are working on joint projects with their supply is worth noting some of the strategies being taken by the big confectionery brands. Mars has analyzed over 250 Malaysian mills to start getting visibility in its palm oil supply chain; and Nestlé is working with TFT (The Forest Trust) to increase the resilience and adaptability of smallholder palm oil producers...

Can new sustainable palm oil study revolutionise efforts to protect rainforests? HCS+ study rejects 'zero deforestation' approach while advocating for 'carbon neutral' palm oil - But will it just confuse companies committed to sustainable supply chains?

Forest fires devastating for Papua, says Greenpeace 15 December 2015; The environmental group Greenpeace has criticised Indonesian authorities over the inadequate response to forest and peatland fires raging out of control across the republic including Papua...,-says-greenpeace

RSPO says ‘Govts should do more for smallholders to prevent haze’   By Meena Lakshana / The Edge Financial Daily   | December 14, 2015; Governments need to wake up and ramp up efforts to help oil palm smallholders adhere to sustainable practices to stop a "predictable catastrophe" such as the haze, the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) secretary-general Datuk Darrel Webber said. On the matter of Indonesian smallholders being held responsible for the haze that blanketed at least seven countries in Southeast Asia from September this year, Webber said it is inexcusable for them to resort to slash-and-burn activities after decades of having the same problem. darrel-webber_fd141215_theedgemarketsWebber: The government makes a ton of money from palm oil. Do something for goodness’ sake. The RSPO is a small organisation compared to what governments can do. The Edge file photo “I think governments need to wake up and smell the coffee in light of the haze situation which I call a predictable catastrophe,” he told The Edge Financial Daily in an exclusive interview on the future of sustainable palm oil....
Starbucks' Deforestation-Free Pledge Not Worth Beans 12/17/2015 by Elliott Negin, Union of Concerned Scientists; Today that coalition sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (above) urging him to strengthen his company's procurement policy to ensure it doesn't contribute to deforestation, a significant cause of global warming. The commodities in question include wood, paper products and palm oil, an ingredient in a number of Starbucks menu items, including its Java Chip Frappuccino and Cranberry Bliss Bar. The signatories on the letter include the Center for International Policy, Forest Heroes, the International Labor Rights Forum, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Foundation Norway, the Sierra Club, SumOfUs and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). In addition to the letter, more than 300,000 consumers have petitioned Starbucks to go "deforestation-free."... The company's pledge didn't impress the coalition. Its letter points out that "'a stronger focus' falls well short of the industry standard of a strict 'No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation' palm oil sourcing policy and time-bound implementation plan." Other fast food chains, including Dunkin' Brands, McDonald's and Yum! Brands -- owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell -- have adopted zero-deforestation procurement policies.....Starbucks also vowed to only buy palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, but the company acknowledges that RSPO certification is insufficient

Sustainable palm-oil body slammed over slave labour auditing By John Wood, 15-Dec-2015; A coalition of international labour rights and environmental groups has questioned whether audits carried out by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) were robust enough to root out members that used slave labour.

Five European nations make sustainable palm oil pledge By Poorna Rodrigo | 14 December 2015; The governments of five European countries – the UK, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands – have pledged to make palm oil production 100% sustainable by 2020. Officials have signed the Amsterdam Palm Oil Declaration in support of a fully sustainable palm oil supply. The pledge was made in support of a separate commitment from 11 private sector organisations. The so-called Commitment to Support 100% Sustainable Palm Oil in Europe is an initiative of the European Sustainable Palm Oil project, which has been convened by the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and the Netherlands Oils and Fats Industry (MVO).....Another of the 11 signatories, the International Margarine Association of the Countries of Europe (IMACE), said the 2020 goal sounds "ambitious" but is doable. However, Siska Pottie, the association's managing director, said along with RSPO reforms, other steps are needed. "Supporting producing countries to help them develop in a sustainable way, further alignment of definitions and criteria for sustainable palm oil, and a global approach in addressing deforestation is necessary to stop overall deforestation in the industry are necessary."

Sierra Leone News: SLPMC Struggles to Meet EU Standards to Export Palm Oil to Europe 17 Dec 2015; The Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Company (SLPMC) wants to export palm oil to Europe but the process of producing palm oil in the country does not meet the Roundtable Sustainable  Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, Henry Kamara, the Managing Director of SLPMC said in an interview. The RSPO is the requirement palm oil producers must follow to export to the European market. Sierra Leone has still not done the national interpretation of the certification...

12 December 2015: Supply chains class actions. California lawyers. UK DEFRA. Italy campaigns. Latin America spotlight. Fonterra and PK.

UK DEFRA - Legally defining sustainability: Edible palm oil must follow in biofuel footsteps By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn+ , 30-Nov-2015 Voluntary measures and government targets are great – but it is legislation that will push European palm oil users to true sustainability. The food sector could learn a lesson or two from biofuel here.

These Lawyers Want Slave Labor Warnings on Your Cat Food by Erik Larson December 11, 2015. Supply chains for foodmakers seen tainted from Africa to Asia. Costco, Hershey sued over shrimp, chocolate; Nestle wins round... “This item may be the product of slave labor.” Those jarring words could end up on candy bar wrappers, packages of frozen shrimp and even cans of cat food if some California lawyers get their way. Forced labor permeates supply chains that stretch across the globe, from remote farms in Africa and the seas off Southeast Asia to supermarkets in America and Europe. Almost 21 million people are enslaved for profit worldwide, the UN says, providing $150 billion in illicit revenue every year. Governments are pushing companies to better police suppliers, including proposed SEC reporting rules in the U.S. But that’s not enough for a group of law firms. They’ve sued name-brand companies doing business in California, like Hershey Co., Mars Inc., Nestle SA and Costco Wholesale Corp., hoping to use the state’s novel consumer protection laws to put the suffering of millions squarely in front of shoppers.

Problem with Palm Oil (Or, Next Wave of Supply Chain Class Actions?) December 9, 2015 In previous post (here), we discussed a litigation trend that began in September of this year: putative class action lawsuits against U.S. retailers based on alleged unethical practices in their supply chains.  The first lawsuits asserted the presence of trafficked labor in the Thai and Indonesian shrimp and fishing industries, with complaints filed against Costco, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle, and other.  A later round of lawsuits alleged child labor at African cocoa plantations, with complaints filed against major U.S. chocolate producers.  Other lawsuits involved alleged unethical animal care practices by Whole Foods suppliers and general allegations of poor labor practices in supply chains supplying to mega-retailer Wal-Mart.  All of these lawsuits allege that the defendants’ practices differ from what they represent to consumers or shareholders. Now, the media has identified a new likely target: companies whose supply chains include palm oil....

The Italians fighting against an 'invasion' of palm oil 9 Dec 2015 - Calls for Italy to ban palm oil on health and environmental grounds are challenged by those who believe boycotts are not the best way forward...the EU’s second largest (pdf) importer of the oil, which some estimate is found in 90% of biscuits and baked goods in Italian supermarkets....

Analysis - Palm Oil’s Corporate Deception: Green-Washing a Dirty Industry 1 December 2015; .. The expansion of oil palm plantations around the tropical world presents a fierce assault on the climate in the name of corporate profits. While the industry green-washes palm oil under the guise of biofuels and so-called sustainable development, digging behind the corporate myths reveals a complex mess of deforestation, pollution, “carbon debt,” and destruction of biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and food security, often along with grave human rights abuses. ....Activists have slammed the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm, which purports to promote “sustainable development” and “green energy” through oil palm expansion, as “window dressing” to cover up the environmentally-destructive monopolization of land and resources and for turning a blind eye to land grabbing and grave abuses of human rights perpetrated by the industry.  According to Kerssen, author of “Grabbing Power: The new struggles for land, food, and democy in Northern Honduras,” biofuel uses actually makes up a small portion of the palm oil agricultural portfolio, which as a flex crop bends to where it maximizes corporate profits....

Fonterra to meet with Greenpeace 26 November 2015 Fonterra and Greenpeace will meet next week to discuss concerns about palm kernel expeller and major fires in Indonesia....

Fonterra 'linked to rainforest destruction' 21 November 2015 Greenpeace is accusing Fonterra of being directly linked to deforestation in Indonesia through the importation of palm kernel...'linked-to-rainforest-destruction'

Smoking out the truth on palm kernel by CHRIS LEWIS November 17 2015

From Minerals to Palm Oil: Another Supply-Chain 'Conflict By: Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain November 09, 2015 Blood diamonds. Conflict minerals. And now, conflict palm oil.... PNG government indicating logging for agricultural development will continue Eric Tlozek reported this story on Wednesday, November 11, 2015; ... TIM PALMER: Exploitation of Papua New Guinea's vast rainforests has seen the country become the largest exporter of logs in the world. The large-scale logging has intensified environmental concerns, and the PNG government has just promised to stop the export of unmilled rainforest logs, to improve forest sustainability. But logging operations are only ramping up, and exploiting special leases, meant for the development of agricultural projects, to clear forest on land belonging to customary owners. PNG correspondent Eric Tlozek reports. ..

14 Nov 2015: Latin America concerns, Malaysia labour system, Krabi farmers demand redistribution of land concessions to the poor

NGOs Demand Palm Oil Industry Stop Abuses in Latin America  12 November 2015 The coalition has called for big buyers of palm oil from the region to intervene into palm production activities in Latin America to put an end to alarming acts of violence against communities, especially environmental activists and human rights defenders....Campaigners highlight the targeted assassination of Rigoberto Lima Choc, a Guatemalan environmental and human rights activist fighting the contamination of Pasion River by polluted runoff from an oil palm plantation, as a particularly egregious example of the abuses caused by the rapidly expanding industry in the region.... Similarly, in Honduras, massive African oil palm monocultures in the northern Aguan Valley region are at the heart of an intense land struggle and brutal campaign of repression and criminalization against campesinos struggling for their rights to land and food sovereignty.... “In Guatemala, community members engaging in legitimate actions to protect their water quality and environment consistently face threats, attacks, and assassinations, often committed with impunity due to a lack of judicial independence, widespread government corruption, and ineffective oversight of corporate practices,” said Kelsey Alford-Jones, Executive Director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission.

Humans taking back seat to environment in palm oil impact talks, activists say, November 10, 2015.. Citing several migrant rights advocacy experts, UK daily The Guardian reported today an “abusive system” to be prevalent in Malaysia’s palm oil industry, involving human trafficking for labour, debt bondage and culminating in the birth of stateless children born to these foreign workers. “It is a very abusive system that includes labour-trafficking, debt bondage and unfair payments,” Eric Gottwald, legal and policy director at the International Labour Rights Forum, was quoted as saying. - See more at:

Palm oil farmers in Krabi block access to airport during protest - Scuffles broke out when residents whose businesses rely on tourism confronted the protesters. By Panu Wongcha-um, Channel NewsAsia 13 Nov 2015, ... The farmers have been protesting since Thursday, demanding redistribution of land concessions based on a 2003 Cabinet resolution on land distribution for the poor. They want to be able to farm their own land....

19 October 2015: Greenpeace Is Building Its Own Team Of Investigative Journalists, opinions by Conservation International, Jonathon Porritt, Nigeria Okomu, Leuser-Sumatra worries, campaigns on PepsiCo, FGV too

Why Greenpeace Is Building Its Own Team Of Investigative Journalists, September 28, 2015  - The environmental activists now have a new weapon in the fight against polluters... Greenpeace activists see this as a chance to boost the group’s watchdog power. The group's U.K. chapter has recently taken the unusual step of starting its own investigative journalism bureau, hiring several veterans to do in-house reporting on topics ranging from illegal logging to climate change.... The new team, which includes former reporters for the BBC and New York Times, will apply editorial judgment, evaluating what stories to tell and building storytelling that would meet standards of major media outlets. The unit also look to use technology, such as drones or satellite images, and rely on Greenpeace’s network of expertise on the ground in 40 countries around the world in its reporting....
Why Sustainable Palm Oil Is Possible  Mark Tercek, President & CEO, The Nature Conservancy; Author, 'Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature' Posted:  10/14/2015 2:36 pm EDT     Updated:  10/14/2015 2:59 pm EDT  ; .....And now in Indonesia, governments, businesses, communities and NGOs like the Nature Conservancy (TNC) are coming together to figure out how to make these commitments work on the ground with farmers. Small farms manage the majority of land planted with oil palm -- an estimated 60 percent. Helping those farmers produce more palm oil on less land is a key piece of the puzzle in balancing Indonesia's economic growth with healthy forests and vibrant communities. Together, we're developing and testing scientific tools, financial incentives and policy and regulatory measures to help shift palm oil production to already-degraded lands. We are improving the capacity of governments to prevent additional deforestation. We are helping companies compensate for forest lands they have damaged. And we are working with indigenous communities to help them obtain legal rights to sustainably manage their traditional lands. The crucial next step is to integrate these solutions in a way that meets the needs of diverse stakeholders today and into the future. Transforming an entire industry won't be easy -- it's extremely complex. But where there's a will, there's a way. Take the Amazon rainforest, for example. At the height of the soy boom a decade ago, Greenpeace and McDonald's pressured Cargill to ensure its soy was sustainably produced. The campaign worked. Cargill committed to stop buying soy from newly deforested land. The company pushed fellow soy traders to do the same, resulting in an unprecedented agreement that has brought deforestation in the Amazon due to soy expansion nearly to a halt. To ensure the success of the agreement, Cargill teamed up with TNC and other organizations to develop monitoring systems and incentives for farmers who comply with Brazil's environmental regulations....

A new business model for palm oil? The recent haze in Southeast Asia has sparked renewed calls for alternatives to palm oil products. In this interview, Forum for the Future founder Jonathon Porritt tells Eco-Business why the industry - which is also provides thousands of livelihoods worldwide - needs a new business model, not boycotts.  By Vaidehi Shah Friday 16 October 2015

ERA, communities decry indiscriminate land use by multinationals By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu and Michael Egbejule, Benin City on October 12, 2015 7:18 am  THE Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has expressed dismay by the activities of most big multinational companies in the country over the ugly trend of forcefully denying their host communities the use of their lands without any commensurate compensation.,,, Rita Uwaka, project officer of ERA in her research findings, told journalists that it was noted that Okomu Oil Palm firm grabbed more land across forest reserves for oil palm business and “another 11,000 hectares of farmland, including two forest reserves grabbed for oil palm plantation expansion by Okomu Oil Palm Plc- a member of the global SOCFIN Group, is worrisome, adding that community-based livelihoods, comprising mainly farming and fishing, had been truncated with over 20 communities risking eviction and human rights abuses....

Palm oil company caught destroying primary forest in endangered ecosystem  Tuesday 13 October 2015 by - RAN photo deforestation lesuer Non-profit forest group, Rainforest Action Network took pictures of the forest, which it says was cleared by palm oil company PT Tualang Raya in August 2015 in the Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra. Image: Paul Hilton/ RAN

The Forgotten Elephants of the Leuser Ecosystem Posted by International League of Conservation Photographers on September 30, 2015

As Fires Consume Indonesia, Pepsi Profits by Ivy Schlegel September 23, 2015 PepsiCo's updated sustainable palm oil commitment is another half step, but protecting forests requires a big leap.

Indonesia’s new emissions target actually a step back: Greenpeace The new target might seem like an improvement over Indonesia’s previous commitment to cut emissions growth by 26 per cent over projected business-as-usual levels by 2020, but it actually represents a regression, Greenpeace says.

FGVH said to be target of global anti-palm oil lobby by Mohamad Azlan JaafarWednesday, September 23, 2015; Several anti-palm oil groups are pressuring international manufacturers to boycott products from Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGVH), according to industry sources. FGVH, Malaysia’s largest oil palm planter, is being singled out for using “unfair labour practices” among other things. There has always been an anti-oil palm lobby, but recently several non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs) have canvassed local manufacturers of consumer product companies to stop buying products from FGVH. “It appears that there is a move to target FGVH products using labour practices as the excuse,” said an industry source. “The authorities should investigate this latest move to boycott FGVH products.” Previously, anti-palm oil lobbyists, comprising NGOs and consumer groups, have cited deforestation, destruction of peatlands, health concerns, habitat degradation, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses to spread t eir anti-palm oil gospel. Today, they have added “modern slavery” into their argument to force international food and consumer goods manufacturers to abandon palm oil in the production of their products.

As Fires Consume Indonesia, Pepsi Profits by Ivy Schlegel September 23, 2015 PepsiCo's updated sustainable palm oil commitment is another half step, but protecting forests requires a big leap.

14 September 2015: MPOC counters anti-palm oil propaganda in Paris 

MPOC counters anti-palm oil propaganda in Paris  Monday, 7 September 2015  By: DANIEL KHOO; KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) is launching a palm oil branding campaign in Paris on Monday in a move to balance the anti palm oil lobby in parts of Western Europe.

22 August 2015: Greenpeace promotes POIG, Starbucks under scrutiny, Norwegian fund excludes four Asian companies over palm oil

Greenpeace promotes POIG. How fixing palm oil could save orangutans from extinction; Blogpost by Achmad Saleh Suhada - 21 August, 2015 at 8:07 In Indonesia, we’ve shown that the palm oil sector was the single largest driver of deforestation between 2009-2011, accounting for about a quarter of the country’s forest loss. Orangutans face extinction in Borneo due to habitat clearing, which is underway across Indonesia and Malaysia; and if this continues, a staggering 75 percent of Southeast Asia’s original forest cover will be lost by 2030 according to the UNEP... OK, so that’s the bad news. But it’s not all doom and gloom....In 2013 we established the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), a joint Non-Governmental Organisation and business initiative that aims to promote environmental responsibility and community partnerships. It’s the first step in creating standards that can finally verify whether or not the palm oil you are consuming is free from deforestation.
And just recently, the scheme has approved three companies - two in Latin America and one in Papua New Guinea. Other companies, including operators in Indonesia, are also lining up for this 'top of the class' recognition....

Starbucks under scrutiny for palm oil policy 20 August 2015, source edie newsroom; Starbucks is the latest in a line of companies to have its sustainability credentials scrutinised by SumOfUs  Starbucks has become the latest major brand to come under fire from campaign groups for its palm oil policy, with a new video urging consumers to boycott the coffee shop chain.  The video is part of an ongoing campaign from the SumOfUs group, which has almost reached its petition goal of 200,000 signatures calling on Starbucks to cut conflict palm oil from its supply chain.

Norwegian fund excludes four Asian companies over palm oil - Norway's gigantic sovereign wealth fund announced on Monday it was divesting from four large Asian companies over the environmental damage their palm oil activities have on tropical forests.POSTED: 18 Aug 2015 03:16; Daewoo, South Korean steelmaker Posco and Malaysian groups Genting and IJM were targeted in the divestment decision by Norway's central bank, which manages the wealth fund that owns around 1.3 per cent of all stocks on global equity markets, with stakes in about 9,000 companies...

12 August 2015: Greenomics eyes Wilmar-Ganda - another smaller NGO questions a traceability giant

Not just any Wilmar supplier caught violating no-deforestation policy 30th July 2015 / Philip Jacobson - Published underMongabay Reporting Network; A subsidiary of Ganda Group, owned by Wilmar founder's little brother, presided over rainforest destruction for palm oil in Indonesia. •Greenomics identifies deforestation in two oil-palm concessions in Riau and West Kalimantan, including one controlled by Ganda •In the other concession, Wilmar blames encroachers; Greenomics believes clearing was company-directed •Wilmar the biggest buyer from both companies, giving it significant leverage to affect their practices...

Editor's note: Earlier, another major traceability integrated plantation group faced NGO heat via FPP's complaint to the RSPO. Read: 21 May 2015: TFT suspends Golden Agri takes (and hours later a new chief sustainability officer is appointed for the plantation giant - Agus Purnomo)/khorreports-palmoil/2014/01/garsinar-mas-back-in-ngo-focus.html

21 July 2015: Greenpeace responds to Tropical Forest Trust on moving 'Beyond Certification', Deforestation in Asia and Africa - FPP challenges Wilmar, Popular snack foods may cause rainforest destruction - environmental groups are stepping up a crusade, Rainforest Action Network -  specifically targeted PepsiCo, which uses 450,000 tons of palm oil a year

Greenpeace responds to Tropical Forest Trust on moving 'Beyond Certification'  Commentary by Grant Rosoman of Greenpeace  July 08, 2015 Editor's Note: Greenpeace submitted this commentary in response to an interview Mongabay recently conducted with Scott Poynton of Tropical Forest Trust (TFT). In the interview, Poynton said the forest commodity sector needs to move 'beyond certification' to effectively address social and environmental issues. The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Mongabay; We at Greenpeace believe certification schemes are far from perfect, nor are they the only tool to achieve environmental and social goals; however some schemes are stronger than others such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and we do believe that they have an important role to play. Here we respond to TFT's attack on certification..... TFT says certification "stifles innovation", is "falling behind" and has "weak standards". Clearly TFT is underestimating change that is occurring within certification schemes and standards. Just ask any forest manager or certification body working with FSC — they will say there is so much change that they can hardly keep up! TFT have disengaged from certification for several years so may be out of touch — it would pay for them to take a look at the certification systems and see what innovations are afoot. For example, over the last 5 years there has been a huge overhaul in FSC standards for responsible forest management, with international generic indicators being approved recently, which will now be translated into indicators at a national level together with stakeholders. This will be the most comprehensive and strongest set of standards for forest management to date. The standards development process has been highly transparent and with an enormous amount of stakeholder involvement — meaning we would expect TFT would support it. Of course, we still need these standards to be implemented strongly on the ground by companies and communities, and rigorous audits are required in the certification process — something that is not always done well.
..... Meanwhile, to reward a high level of performance in the palm oil sector, rather than focus on the RSPO certification scheme, Greenpeace has worked together with a group of progressive companies and other NGOs to create the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG). POIG has identified important additional requirements that are not addressed by existing standards, and has third-party verification as a core requirement. Traders, manufacturers and consumer goods companies can now preferentially buy from POIG producers and also pay a premium to reward performance. Here is a clear example of innovation and stronger standards linked to third-party verification and certification — yet TFT does not recommend companies join the POIG....TFT claim certification is "too expensive and too much money wasted". We agree that certification is too expensive and we need to find more streamlined ways of verifying compliance with standards. However, it must be remembered that much of the cost of certification is not the audit itself but the transformation, change and preparation required to meet the standards — work that TFT have done well for many years. In the next few years technology will help a lot, with better satellite 'eyes in the sky' that can save costly time in the field, and which will increase the current low rate of sampling. And certification has fallen into the trap of checking on a lot of things that are not critical for achieving performance on the ground. But for TFT to propose that companies should abandon certification in favor of spending their money on TFT's approach and local level monitoring smacks of self-interest, especially when their critique of certification is based on several false assumptions. ..... Declaration of interest: Greenpeace does not receive any funds from companies and has no financial interest or paid collaboration in relation to companies achieving certification. Grant Rosoman represented Greenpeace as a member of the FSC International board for 7 years including one year as board chair. Greenpeace is a member of FSC but is not a member of RSPO. ]  Read more:

Deforestation in Asia and Africa: Palm Oil Giant Wilmar Resorts to “Dirty Tricks” By Forest Peoples Programme Global Research, July 08, 2015; ...After a consortium of NGOs complained in 2008 to the International Finance Corporation that its client, Wilmar, was taking over community lands in Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo without their consent, the company agreed to the IFC’s independent Compliance Advisory Ombudsman mediating a conflict resolution process. Some land was returned and smallholdings reinstated in two villages in West Sumatra but the communities remain critical of Wilmar: “It was all just for show,” says Sajingan Kecil community leader and head of the oil palm cooperative, Pak Muksidin ruefully. “We did get our smallholdings along with a business deal to repay the costs of land clearance and planting, but then the company provided no follow up. The roads have not been maintained, we can’t get the palm fruits to the mill and we are just left with unpayable debts.” Banks and investors should not ass me that companies with strong commitments in place are free of social, environmental, legal and market risks. “Investors and buyers must look very carefully at what is happening on the ground when they assess company promises of no deforestation and no exploitation. Wilmar’s commitments are impressive on paper, but the company needs to radically improve its actual performance” says Patrick Anderson, a policy advisor with Forest Peoples Programme....  Through a raft of subsidiaries the Singapore-based company holds a ‘land bank’ of over 600,000 hectares, principally in Sabah, Sarawak, Sumatra and Kalimantan in Malaysia and Indonesia.... It is also expanding its operations into Africa. It accounts for about 45% of all globally traded palm oil. About 30% of the crude palm oil that Wilmar processes in its huge refineries comes from its own estates while the rest is bought from other suppliers... Resources...

Popular snack foods may cause rainforest destruction By    Dan Ashley  Friday, July 10, 2015 01:06PM; SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --  Environmental groups are stepping up a crusade to make sure the food people eat is good for the planet. They are focused on palm oil, a common ingredient in a lot of processed food most people eat every day without knowing the cost to the environment. Activists from around the country recently gathered at a secret location in San Francisco to train and strategize about how to get big snack food companies to crack down on environmental and human rights abuses in the palm oil industry. The meeting was put on by the Rainforest Action Network. Activists practiced staging non-violent events to spread awareness about industry practices.... Activists fighting abuses in those countries face extreme danger. ABC7 News spoke with one activist visiting the Bay Area from Indonesia. He asked that he not be identified. He is particularly concerned about threats to the highly prized Leuser Ecosystem, a protected area of rainforest on the island of Sumatra. The man said palm oil "is good only for companies, not people." He says workers are often badly paid and poorly treated and a lot of land is being stolen from indigenous people. It's almost impossible for American shoppers to figure out all the products that contain palm oil and whether it was grown responsibly. The Rainforest Action Network has just released a scorecard and interactive website, grading the twenty biggest snack food companies.... Rainforest Action Network also called out companies it says are not doing enough. The group has specifically targeted PepsiCo, which uses 450,000 tons of palm oil a year, sold under a lot of different brand names... PepsiCo responded with the following statement: While the Rainforest Action Network has been critical of PepsiCo and our robust sustainable palm oil plan, this year, the Union of Concerned Scientists, an ally of the RAN, gave PepsiCo an 80 on their palm oil scorecard, which in their ranking equates to having strong palm oil commitments. We have met our stated commitment to exclusively purchase 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil for our products by this year and we are starting to source 100 percent physical RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified palm oil in a couple of markets.  After checking with the Union of Concerned Scientists, they sent a statement of their own to ABC7 News: PepsiCo talks a good game, but the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is skeptical about PepsiCo's ability to follow through on its commitment....

15 July 2015: Moratoria beat certification to reduce deforestation for soy, palm oil, cattle  - says study in Mongabay's Tropical Conservation Science journal

Moratoria beat certification to reduce deforestation for soy, palm oil, cattle BY  Sean Mowbray July 14, 2015; .... Voluntary agreements to reduce deforestation have become common in places without effective regulations. A new study in Mongabay's open access journal Tropical Conservation Science compares four such initiatives in the tropics to examine how they vary in effectiveness and determine what makes such endeavors work, or not.... Study author Karen Meijer, an environmental policy researcher with the German Development Institute, focused on four initiatives: the Soy Moratorium, the Cattle Agreement, and the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) in Brazil, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Indonesia. The first two involved temporary bans, with major companies pledging not to buy from producers linked to deforestation. The last two are certification schemes involving members from all links in the supply chain, from farmers to retailers and everyone in between. The study found that the temporary bans tended to be more effective in terms of achieving compliance within the supply chain and setting stricter goals than the certification schemes.  The two moratoria — the Soy Moratorium and the Cattle Agreement — involved large companies near the top of the supply chain temporarily refusing to buy from suppliers linked to deforestation. Because of their market sway — companies participating in the Soy Moratorium represented 90 percent of Brazil's total soy market — these companies were able to impose their will on those further down the supply chain who depended upon their business, resulting in higher compliance rates than found in certification schemes. Read more:

27 June 2015: Industry observers and Greenpeace have defended Nutella, Ségolène Royal apologises for Nutella boycott call , Wellington Zoo puts pressure on to unmask palm oil

You're really spoiling us: has Ferrero been wrongly accused over Nutella? Industry observers including Greenpeace have defended the confectionery firm on sourcing sustainable palm oil after a French minister urged citizens to stop buying its spread Friday 19 June 2015 11.28 BST; It is not often that government ministers urge their citizens to boycott a specific product. But that is just what the French environment minister Ségolène Royal did with Nutella this week – claiming that the palm oil it is made from contributes to deforestation and does “considerable damage” to the environment. Cue irritation from the Italian company Ferrero that makes the chocolatey spread and a backlash from Royal’s opposite number in Italy. Industry observers including Greenpeace and WWF also leapt to the defence of the company, pointing out that it has in fact led the industry in cleaning up its act and goes much further than most competitors on responsible sourcing of palm oil. The company has met its commitments to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the voluntary mechanism for controlling the practices of the industry, a year ahead of time. This means it can trace 100% of its palm oil from RSPO registered oil mills.
Ségolène Royal apologises for Nutella boycott call By Caroline Scott-Thomas+, 22-Jun-2015 French ecology minister Ségolène Royal has apologised for urging a Nutella boycott over its palm oil content after learning that parent brand Ferrero uses sustainably sourced palm oil.

Wellington Zoo puts pressure on to unmask palm oil Monday, 22 June 2015, 1:27 pm Press Release: Wellington Zoo   Wellington Zoo will deliver thousands of postcards to Food Safety Minister Hon Jo Goodhew asking government representatives in New Zealand and Australia to demand clear labelling of vegetable oils on all food products through the Unmask Palm Oil campaign. Wellington Zoo collected signatures from our community between April to June, with overwhelming support from our visitors to urge Minister Goodhew to support clear labelling at the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation. However, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has been delayed writing the report necessary for the vote on mandatory labelling. This means the vote will likely be delayed until 2016.

20 June 2015: Conservationists are fighting to save Sumatran orang-utans from near-extinction

How palm oil demand has left orang-utans on the brink of extinction By David Higgs 8:00AM BST 20 Jun2015 - As an ever-increasing global trade in palm oil fuels mass deforestation in Indonesia, conservationists are fighting to save Sumatran orang-utans from near-extinction

16 June 2015: Scientist research argues for price premium for "conservation grade" palmoil for plantation companies to conserve nearby forests, as consumers would be prepared to pay between 15 and 56 per cent extra - Independent UK (question: at what volume though?)

Raising palm oil prices could help to save endangered tigers and orangutans, study claims - If money raised from a price premium on palm oil went towards conservation, the habitats of some of the world's rarest species could be protected by Steve Connor   Science Editor Tuesday 16 June 2015
Supermarkets could help to save rare endangered animals such as the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan by increasing the price of products containing palm oil providing the money raised went to forest conservation, a study has found. Placing a price premium on items containing palm oil ingredients – which amount to about half of all supermarket products – would have a significant effect on protecting the remaining forests that have not yet been completely destroyed by palm oil plantations, scientists said.......The study found that consumers would be prepared to pay between 15 and 56 per cent extra for products containing palm oil if they knew that it would help to protect the natural habitats of threatened animals and plants in Indonesia and Africa, where palm plantations have spread rapidly over the past 20 years. Scientists found in research on supermarket shoppers and a palm-oil company in Sumatra, Indonesia, that the higher prices people were will willing to pay for “conservation grade” palm oil more than made up for the extra costs the company incurred when conserving nearby forests......“Consumers’ willingness to pay for sustainably grown palm oil has the potential to incentivise private producers enough to engage in conservation activities. This would support Red List species,” Professor Bateman said....

28 May 2015: Sawit Watch member murdered probably by member of navy; Club of Rome report on deforestation points to cattle, soy and palm oil 

Murderer probably from Navy, say police The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Jakarta | Tue, May 26 2015, 7:05 AM; The investigation into the murder of environmental activist Jopi Teguh Lesmana Peranginangin suggests that the killer may be a member of the military.Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Muhammad Iqbal said on Monday that currently the South Jakarta Police were coordinating with the Navy’s Military Police (Pomal) on the investigation.“However, we still don’t know the identity of the perpetrator yet,” he said.Iqbal went on to say that the police had confiscated closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage from the night club and questioned five witnesses. He also said that the motive of the attack had not been revealed yet.Jopi, who was a member of environmental group Sawit Watch, an NGO addressing the negative impacts of palm oil plantations, was stabbed to death outside a night club in Kemang, South Jakarta, on Saturday. According to a witness, the perpetrator claimed to be a military officer. - See more at: According to a press release from Walhi, the Barito Utara Police officers in Central Kalimantan arrested as many as 27 residents of Kemawen village on Jan. 14, 2015, when residents tried to defend 4,500 hectares of their customary land. The land was acquired by PT Berjaya Agro Kalimantan and is slated to become part of its 20,000-ha oil palm plantation.The latest case of violence against an environmental activist was on Feb. 27, when a farmer-cum-activist Indra Pelani was murdered, allegedly by security guards of the forest industry company PT Wira Karya Sakti in Tebo, Jambi, which is owned by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), according to a press release by Walhi in Jambi. - See more at:

Agriculture and Cattle Ranching Threatening Global Rainforests 'By' Vanessa Dezem 5:00 PM HKT  May 21, 2015; The Brazilian city of Altamira used to be in the middle of Amazon forest. Not anymore, not after decades of deforestation. Now it’s a two-hour drive to the nearest native forest areas still standing. The view along the way is mostly pastures, with a few tall nut trees surrounded by cattle. Lots of cattle. The expansion of the herd in the Brazilian Amazon is emblematic of global economic forces that are driving deforestation to support the growth of farms, ranches and other commercial enterprises, according to a report released Thursday in Berlin by the Club of Rome, a research group that studies global issues. “The world may literally eat up the tropical rainforests,” said Claude Martin, author of the report On The Edge: The State and Fate of the World’s Tropical Rainforests. They may be “the only large areas still available for agricultural expansion.” Almost 50 percent of the world’s rainforests have disappeared since the start of the 1970s, when the first scientific studies began to raise awareness about their value. Tropical deforestation and forest degradation are estimated to contribute between 10 percent and 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report. Converting rainforest for commercial agriculture -- primarily cattle, soybean and palm oil -- has been the main driver of deforestation for the past 25 years, Martin said in a telephone interview from Zurich. Of the more than 100 million hectares of agricultural land added in the tropics from 1980 to 2000, more than 55 percent came from cutting down rainforests, according to the report. That includes small-scale cultivation and subsistence farming, and large-scale commercial plantations. Brazil’s portion of the Amazon, the largest remaining tropical forest, has shrunk by 20 percent in the last 40 years, according to government data....
Link to "On the Edge - The State and Fate of the World's Tropical Rainforests" is here

1 May 2015: Food companies scramble to cut palm oil, WWF says palm oil deforestation continues

Food Companies Scramble to Cut Palm Oil From Supply Chains - McDonald’s push poses major test of industry’s ability to trace, eliminate contentious materials  By Erica E. Phillips And Betsy Morris  Updated April 29, 2015 7:12 p.m. ET; The roster of food companies that want to eliminate palm oil from their products is getting longer. But actually reaching that goal will require an enormous effort across their supply chains.  “Once a company goes into the palm oil supply chain, it gets incredibly complex,” says Alexis Bateman, a research associate with the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics. The company “can have multiple different products that contain the material and then palm oil can come from several different derivatives—from fruit bunches, from the tree, from the palm kernel.”  A McDonald’s Corp. announcement in April that a “comprehensive” supply chain sustainability plan will focus on reducing deforestation in its beef, poultry, coffee and palm oil sourcing will provide perhaps the biggest test of companies’ ability to trace and eliminate contentious materials from their products.

Deforestation continues for palm oil, says WWF The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Wed, April 29 2015, 6:13 AM; Millions of more hectares of forest across the country are likely to be destroyed in the near future despite a decline in the deforestation rate over the past decade, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).The WWF on Tuesday released its 2015 Living Forests Report, projecting that between 2010 and 2030 around 35 million hectares of forests in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Papua would gradually disappear mainly because of rapid agricultural development.“These three fronts are where the bulk of global deforestation is expected to take place in the next two decades under business-as-usual scenarios and without interventions to prevent losses,” WWF International Forest Program director Rodney Taylor said on Tuesday in Central Jakarta.Kalimantan is predicted to see the biggest forest losses, amounting to 22 million hectares, because of the past decade’s significant expansion of large-scale oil palm plantations, which currently cover 11.7 million hectares in the country, according to the report.WWF Indonesia policy and transformation director Budi Wardhana said that Kalimantan had lost almost half of its forests in the past decade.“And half of what’s left can be destroyed in the near future. Oil palm plantations are the main cause,” Budi said. Meanwhile, 7 million hectares of forests on Papua will disappear as up to 10 million hectares of them are set to be cleared for massive development of agricultural products, the report shows. - See more at:

19 April 2015: Bloomberg - Greenpeace's Midlife Crisis, Naidoo leaves end of 2015 - his legacy was to focus resources in key environmental battles and increase its influence with companies

Bloomberg: Greenpeace's Midlife Crisis - Familiar tactics against savvier corporate targets have made life harder for the environmental icon  by hidden line after 'By'Peter Robison and Monte Reel April 14, 2015; Greenpeace's account of its mission to board and occupy an enormous oil-drilling rig in the middle of the Pacific evoked a familiar image of daring environmental activists confronting determined opposition from a corporate titan. The six people who used ropes and harnesses last week to scale the Royal Dutch Shell rig from inflatable rafts dodged "jets of water from high-powered hoses aimed at them by the rig's crew." There was only one problem: The encounter involved no hoses. In fact, as a later clarification from Greenpeace made clear, the activists met no resistance at all..........It was a small but telling slip-up for Greenpeace, which has been mired in an internal debate over how far to go to capture the public's attention at a time when its traditional stunts often seem familiar. Many corporate targets are now savvy enough to avoid the confrontations that hand Greenpeace camera-ready scenes to generate publicity and support.  "It's no longer maybe the mind-blowing tactics that it was in the '70s or '80s to go out and take some pictures," says Laura Kenyon, a Greenpeace campaigner who participated in the latest effort to shadow the Artic-bound Shell rig across the Pacific. "People now expect things from Greenpeace."... It seems scaling a moving oil rig in the middle of an ocean isn't enough to guarantee attention. The activists managed to spend almost a week aboard Shell's Polar Pioneer before departing over the weekend. In that time Kenyon's colleagues set up camp, unfurled a "Save the Arctic" banner, and shot videos of themselves. Shell made no physical attempt to dislodge the Greenpeace team—some crew members could be seen waving to them. Shell sought a restraining order to keep the activists away, and a federal judge in Alaska granted the measure on April 11..........Procter & Gamble was similarly unruffled last year when a Greenpeace team, including one in a tiger suit, used zip lines to hang a banner between two of the company's Cincinnati office towers in a bid to draw attention to the use of palm oil from rain forests in shampoos. A local police officer rapped on a window and calmly asked the activists when they would be done. Later, in a sign of just how far corporate targets can take nonconfrontational tactics, P&G even persuaded prosecutors to reduce the charges against the activists from felony vandalism and burglary to misdemeanor trespassing...............Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, hired in 2009 to inject fresh vigor into the 44-year-old organization, has tried to strike a balance between its militant early days and the sort of advocacy campaigns befitting an organization with an annual budget topping $300 million and 2.8 million global members. That tension boiled over late last year in one of Greenpeace's most embarrassing episodes. Activists tromped onto the grounds of the Nazca Lines in Peru to leave a climate-change message, and their tracks disturbed the 1,500-year-old cultural site and outraged an entire country.......Last month, Naidoo announced he would be leaving Greenpeace by the end of the year. He has said the decision to step down is unrelated to the Peru incident. Naidoo's legacy, according to Greenpeace's self-assessment, has been to focus resources in key environmental battles and increase its influence with companies—among them P&G, which promises to ensure no deforestation in its supply chain by 2020.......Some supporters, however, worried that the tactic only cast doubt on all of the group's claims. "There are so many actual damning truths that could be told to fight the good fight, but here you are wasting time blurring ethical boundaries and reducing your credibility," one reader posted to Greenpeace's blog..

One year later, Greenpeace's Cincinnati court battle over a tiger suit comes to a close Apr 10, 2015, 12:54pm EDT; Greenpeace had claimed that palm oil used in P&G (NYSE: PG) brands such as Head & Shoulders shampoo, Gillette shaving gel and Olay skin care products is connected to the deforestation of an area of Indonesia that is home to endangered tigers... As part of a deal with Deters, the protesters entered guilty pleas on Dec. 12 to charges of misdemeanor trespassing. They were each ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.... Bill Gallagher, a Cincinnati lawyer who represented some of the Greenpeace protesters, had filed a Dec. 19 motion requesting that the confiscated items be returned. Marcella “Koala” Largess, the activist who wore the tiger suit while suspended by ropes between the 17-story twin towers of P&G’s headquarters, previously told me she wanted the costume back.... Deters previously told me he was upset with Greenpeace because the city spent a lot of time and money in having police and firefighters respond and investigate the publicity stunt. “I have no problem with people having protests lawfully, but this was quite over the top,” Deters said. The prosecutor added that he was pressured by P&G to make a plea bargain because the company wanted the case to go away.......

9 April 2015: How the deal was done - changing palm oil trade policy to eliminate deforestation: the Wilmar-TFT-Forest Heroes story...

This is a very in-depth (long) and interesting reportage of what went on behind the scenes to drive the 5 Dec 2013 shift to the "no peat, no deforestation, no...." policies. I remember this period quite vividly for all the chatter swirling over large plantation groups pondering over these new pledge terms. These are being operationalised as de facto trade standards for the palm oil trade, and percolating surely down to the entire supply-chain. It is part of  the "second wave" of NGO policy makers into the palm oil sector (first wave being lead by WWF-RSPO). /khorreports-palmoil/2015/04/how-deal-was-done-changing-palm-oil.html

10 November 2013: NGO attack on snacks & supply-chain

Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a US-based NGO has recently been active on a campaign targeting snack food brands on “conflict palm oil” that “contaminates” the products. RAN is concerned about “deforestation, child or forced labour, plantation expansion on carbon-rich peat lands, or violations of forest-dependent communities’ rights” and uses the orang-utan as a symbol. The campaign targets the “Snack Food 20” group of companies — Campbell, ConAgra, Dunkin’, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Hillshire Brands,  Heinz, Hormel Foods, Kellogg,  Kraft, Krispy Kreme, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Nissin Foods, PepsiCo, Hershey, J.M. Smucker,  Toyo Suisan Kaisha, and Unilever. The NGO talks about the big companies having supply-chain power to “drive a transformation.” In recent media focus are Kraft and Wilmar.

This is reminiscent of the Greenpeace vs. Nestle (anti-Kit Kat) campaign in Europe in 2010. The overall goal of RAN is in accord with the RSPO which aims for the largest companies in order to effect market “transformation.” Thus, another NGO is “muscling in” on the incumbent WWF-RSPO turf. Together with Greenpeace, RAN is part of the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) which is still lacking buyer members. The snack food company campaign must hope to bring some on board POIG. RAN and other NGOs are also asking more questions about the supply-chain. Wilmar, commonly said to control one-third of the global palm oil trade, is in the cross-hairs of NGO questions about its trade in non-certified products. Questions are also being asked on FFB sourcing from third parties. This stage of NGO campaigning on palm oil takes it to the US and focuses on the supply-chain.

Source: Khor Report's Palm Oil Nov/Dec 2013, Issue 5 (released)

At RSPO RT14 Bangkok - big news Marrakech Declaration by Africa palm producers. GA resolution results.

News from RSPO


13TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY SUMMARY REPORT Announcements, 30 November 2016




Day 3 (10 Nov): 9 Africa producer nations to pledge no net deforestation. GA policy resolutions results.


RSPO GA key policy resolution tracking with results:

I just had glance at the GA resolutions.They rightly focus on streamlining for cost-efficient smallholder certification:
- On downstream  and NGO commensurate efforts e.g. "no palm oil" by RSPO CGM a bug bear. Indonesia Grower Caucus (IGC)
- Fixed period for key documents. IGC.
- Compensation procedure. To publish cases and action for transparency. Current is voluntary declaration without public disclosure.
- Whistleblowing mechanism.
- NPP for indep smallholders. Solidaridad and SRT Jambi and many plantations.
- Exempt NPP for independent and scheme smallholders. IGC.
- Group certification system suspension. As smallholders face complicated process for GHG and HCV Comp. IGC.

News updates

Day 3 (10 Nov) tracking

Regional Perspective session. Shows major efforts include governments to shift to private-public efforts. Amsterdam Declaration is for RSPO certified or equivalent but palm oil in food use has been dropping. Upcoming 9 Africa producer nations signing of Marrakech Declaration will promote RSPO certification amidst smallholder focus; crucially pledges zero net deforestation. Sees RSPO as insufficient coverage and need to raise the floor.

Have smallholder seen improvements session. Struggling for metrics from Amanah case and focus more on issues and policy by the speakers. There is floor feedback on capacity shortcomings. Oxfam (EB member) says need more than just the "certification tool" and draft snallholder strategy paper received by EB last week is to stay ambitious but keep it simple.

Closing address talks about global inequality and that no one should be left behind. Points to working with local governments e.g.  Sabah where carbon stocks are found to be 40% higher than in the Amazon (per ha?), South Sumatra and Kalimantan projects. Ecuador commitment just came. Marrakesh Declaration for sustainable development is big. Needs to be on an equitable basis. RSPO has a role as a convenor. Simple step of exclusion must be minimised. RSPO to work closely with Singapore to pull this region along.

Day 2 (9 Nov) tracking

What are implications of Brexit-Trump victories for sustainability? Review your political-economic structure and mitigate negative economics for small suppliers.   

RSPO Updates session: 

Monitoring impacts session: 
Buzzword/catch phrase abundant e.g. theory of change. Hmmmm.

Assurance session closes Day 2: 

RSPO is highlighting twitter to follow events, but it seems to have lot of anti-RSPO (e.g. licence to kill) comments too:  

Day 1 (8 Nov) reflections

As I look at news on the US elections rolling out it is interesting to reflect on the so-called elite vs non-elite concerns embedded in this and having more prominence in policy making. These are apparently also high among the concerns of some senior RSPO observers. Recall that IPOP was disbanded by Indonesia on fears of outcomes for smallholders from  "economic cartel" behaviour risks ie. exclusion and added price discounting. RSPO watchers are also concerned about a surprise Brexit-type risk for this certification club (that covers the best or top 20% of production)  well organised by regional/international interests but that has struggled to include smallholders on a large-scale. Could national administrations try to intervene in some way? In KL, there is market talk that high politics also has its eyes peeled.

I have covered palm sustainability since 2009, highlighting the need for economic trickle down. It is heartening to see a rise in RSPO smallholders within the last two years; as the big plantations finished covering their own processing and estates first. Our checks on smallholders is that independent smallholders covered may be former scheme projects, suggesting that an inclusionary approach is hard to come.

A positive will be the jurisdictional RSPO certification move. But commercial players see this as some way off as the lead Sabah programme is said not to have a detailed plan yet. The RSPO consultant presenting on this yesterday said as much. That the Sabah administration is mooting legislative change to make RSPO a legal requirement underlines the limits of voluntary buy in.

Corporates were cheering the HCS Convergence. But I think questions remain on the hard vegetation threshold (what is the equivalent carbon ceiling in each region) and the important issue of suquencing the social aspect. Greenpeace represented the steering committee and mentioned a timeframe of "months if not years" on social and FPIC. We would need to read the details of this appatently work-in-progress policy. On a related issue, RSPO Next's support has to be determined.

At the carbon emissions cluster, it was good to see two years worth of carbon data. From 1 Jan 2017, public disclosure starts. This comes amidst the coming into force of the Paris Climate Agreement. It is voluntary and the reported drop in carbon prices is worrying. Nevertheless, experts are looking out for carbon trading / taxes in the future. Experts say they have yet to consider these in the RSPO context but it likely has to considered. The ultimate question is this: where do premiums go?

I also attended the cluster on Thai palm sustainability. Interesting point discussed afterward is the lack of reported data on land use change to palm. Is it well under 10% forest conversion as Thai observers tell me? Thai palm should say this out loud.

The finance cluster focussed on rising demands by international financiers and laggard regional banks and FMCG. Other clusters were on FFB traceability (legality an issue in Indonesia and Thailand) biodiversity and PKO. The premium and availability issues are top of mind for its buyers. Other issues are the politics of the RSPO complaints system.

The big silent problem is the HCV Complaints Liability. I am told by commercials that this and other costs are pricing out independent smallholders from RSPO. It is also likely impacting potential corporate M&A at a time when sector consilidation is expected. I covered this Compensation at the policy development stage at some detail. I was surprised by the then sanguine views and lack of a legal reading.

At RSPO RT14 in Bangkok, there are likely 800 participants. Key stakeholder representatives are familiar friendly faces.  Very glad to be here in 2016 for palm sustainability that I first started to attend seven years ago.

Climate politics and finance: Funds and forests - DFID on Green Climate Fund, Credit Suise Invt Bank view

10 July 2016: Financiers, funds and forests - DFID on Green Climate Fund, Credit Suise Invt Bank view 

CIFOR’s Peter Holmgren on investing in landscapes - First installment in a series of interviews from the 2016 Global Landscapes Forum - The Investment Case 16 Jun 2016

2016 Global Landscapes Forum: Connecting funds to farms and forests (Part 2) - Attendees of this year's Global Landscapes Forum in London discuss concrete solutions to boost private sector investment in landscapes- from greening supply chains to leveraging fintech and GPS software. LEONA LIU 13 Jun 2016

Balancing Transparency and Non-State Actors in the Climate Negotiations by STEPHEN LEONARD  14 Jun 2016

DFID’s Andrea Ledward on the Green Climate Fund - Third installment in a series of interviews from the 2016 Global Landscapes Forum - The Investment Case CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY RESEARCH  23 Jun 2016

A Q&A with Mark Burrows, Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Global Investment Banking at Credit Suisse - Well, as I’ve said several times, the future is sustainable development, and is landscapes. And frankly, that’s going to be a 5 to 7 trillion-dollar investment space within 10 to 15 years. Every bank, every institutional investor, is now turning its attention to this space.

Watch: Highlights video from the 2016 Global Landscapes Forum- The Investment Case - Private sector investment in landscapes is no passing fad- it’s here to stay. That was the driving consensus among the 300+ participants at this year's Forum.  LEONA LIU 10 Jun 2016

Civil society organisations: Let’s brainstorm sustainibility in Indonesia by Maria Andreasdottir • June 5, 2016 -- The Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) organises seminars to gather civil society organisations in prioritised rainforest countries.... On the occasion of the conference in Jakarta, CIFOR and The Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta made a video about Indonesia’s work on reducing deforestation and the civil society’s crucial role in promoting this. (You can watch the video on

10 reasons to be optimistic for forests 5 June 2016 / Commentary by Rhett A Butler  The post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author alone.

Land tenure and livelihoods: What’s the connection? New study finds that securing land rights doesn't always guarantee better livelihoods for communities in Peru, Indonesia and Uganda.  by Barbara Fraser  16 May 2016

Analysis - Glaring gap: Countries are overlooking how the private sector can help meet national climate goals - As the Bonn Conference gets underway this week (May 16-26), here's a review of seven Asian countries’ plans to finance climate mitigation through land use.  Steven Lawry  17 May 2016

Measuring national REDD+ performance for the promise of results-based finance 18 May 2016, Bonn, Germany

Who is really bearing the cost of REDD+? The answer may surprise you - A forthcoming study brings a reality check on who is footing the bill for REDD+  MICHELLE KOVACEVIC  11 May 2016

What will it take to make sustainable palm oil the norm? New study examines the factors driving commitments to responsible production of a controversial global commodity.  JACK HEWSON  10 May 2016

Paris Agreement signed. Now what? - Here’s what to consider as the global climate agreement set in motion at the COP21 in Paris moves towards implementation. by STEPHEN LEONARD  23 Apr 2016

22 December 2015: The Economist - The Paris agreement will not stabilise the climate; but the efforts it makes possible could still achieve a lot

Climate change - Hopelessness and determination. The Paris agreement will not stabilise the climate; but the efforts it makes possible could still achieve a lot
...For someone to propose means that fall so far short of their purported ends might seem like cynicism or stupidity. Sure enough, some of the keenest devotees to action on climate change have accused the Paris negotiators of both. In fact, the deal really did demonstrate collective intelligence.... The nations of the world know that they cannot suddenly force each other to stop emitting greenhouse gases, because fossil fuels are fundamental to the way that economies work. But many countries also want to reduce the risks posed by climate change and know that they need to find ways to work together. The Paris agreement offers a range of mechanisms to make this happen (see page 94)....Countries now have a framework to ensure that each is doing what it said it would; they have pledged more money to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change; they have a task force for looking at the issues raised by those who cannot adapt and need to find new places to live; and they have the basis for new carbon-pricing deals. They have also agreed that big developing countries, which were largely spared by earlier deals, should consider making a greater contribution.

14 December 2015: COP21 deal and key links; headlines of "end of fossil fuel era" but naysayers call it "fraud" and undermined. The US political system is not on board?

COP21: Paris climate deal is 'best chance to save planet' 13 December 2015

Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era - Two decades of talks have come to this: an ambitious agreement to hold states to emissions targets – but already low-lying countries are worried

Obama's fragile climate legacy - More than his other achievements, the international climate agreement relies on the good will of Congress and the next president to keep it in place.  By Sarah Wheaton 12/13/15.... "The President is making promises he can’t keep, writing checks he can’t cash, and stepping over the middle class to take credit for an ‘agreement’ that is subject to being shredded in 13 months," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.... Key parts of the Paris pact are nonbinding, the only way Obama could avoid seeking approval of the deal in Congress, something he knew would be impossible. He learned that lesson in his first term, when cap-and-trade legislation failed on Capitol Hill, prompting the Environmental Protection Agency to develop its own set of greenhouse gas rules. Those regulations are now at the mercy of the courts, which will decide over the coming years whether the president overstepped his authority as president....
It’s a reminder that even as consensus grows among scientists and world leaders about climate change and what must be done to limit its consequences, the U.S. political system is not on board. Read more:

James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks 'a fraud' - The former Nasa scientist criticizes the talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020, as ‘no action, just promises’ 12 Dec 2015

Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments by George Monbiot

12 December 2015: US Presidential candidate viewpoints, Leaders’ Statement on action for forests at COP21, but financing is not there says Nigeria economist

Climate Change According to U.S. Presidential Candidates   12/4/2015 Where do U.S. presidential candidates stand on climate change and how to address it? A cheat sheet of the frontrunners' positions and plans

CIFOR DG’s Column - Climate isn’t everything … so welcome to the Global Landscapes Forum - Many solutions for a sustainable future are tied to landscapes and must meet local needs, while building on global talks....Landscapes, therefore, are places where many of our solutions for a more sustainable future must happen... The recent fire and haze crisis in Indonesia demonstrates why we need to take a broader landscape approach and a longer-term perspective. The mainstream media tend to characterize the fires as primarily issues of greenhouse gas emissions and nature conservation. While these are indeed critical, the fires really go way beyond. Health, poverty, food, rights, land tenure, law and order, and economic growth are all issues that come into play. Framing the haze crisis mainly around climate concerns is simply not accurate, especially for those closest to the scene that depend on these landscapes...

CIFOR welcomes Leaders’ Statement on action for forests at COP21 2 Dec 2015

Landscapes for sustainability: Potential, yes. Finance, not so much. New areas of investment are needed to bring the private sector on board, speakers say at Global Landscapes Forum.  by Thomas Hubert @tom_hubert 6 Dec 2015; ....speakers at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris warned today, achieving such sustainable land-use management will require massive amounts of investment. And those amounts are not yet there, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian economist and former Minister of Finance, pointed out in the opening session of the event. The Forum, organized by CIFOR and a consortium of partners, brought together more than 3000 people to explore the role of land use in reaching climate and development goals. Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the fact that most African countries had included land-use interventions in their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) as part of ongoing climate negotiations, especially given FAO estimates that one-third of agricultural landscapes are degraded—mostly in developing countries.... She then went on to quote a new paper by the New Climate Economy Project showing that $250 billion is needed each year to fund landscape conservation and restoration, activities she described as “essential to achieving a vital triple win for development and climate: increasing rural productivity, resilience and mitigation simultaneously”.

3 December 2015: By the numbers - India report says OECD exaggerates aid, Oxfam says it is myth that citizens in rapidly developing countires are most to blame - look at the world's richest 10%; Indonesia and Malaysia pledges

By the numbers

Paris climate talks: Indian officials accuse OECD of exaggerating climate aid by John Vidal 2 December 2015; ... Officials suggested that the true amount figure mobilised by rich countries may only be $2.2bn, not $57bn. “This is far from the $100bn a year goal,” the Indian paper said, which included a disclaimer that “the views and analysis contained in this discussion paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the government of India”.

World's richest 10% produce half of global carbon emissions, says Oxfam by AFP  2 December 2015 - an average person among the richest 1% of people emits 175 times more carbon than his or her counterpart among the bottom 1%, Oxfam said. .... Oxfam said its analysis “helps dispel the myth that citizens in rapidly developing countries are somehow most to blame for climate change.” ...

Indonesia and Malaysia pledges

April Group Invests US$100 Million for Peat Restoration 2 Desember 2015, Aside from doubling the land restoration up to 150,000 hectares, the company operating in Riau will invest money at around US$100 million to around Rp1.36 trillion for the restoration program within 10 years. The investment value is the largest that a private company has invested in the single eco-restoration in Indonesia. Investment of April covers the studies, restorations and coverage, along with management and partnership.

Malaysia pledges 45% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, 2 December 2015; ... Six years ago in Copenhagen it set a target of cutting emissions by as much as 40% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. The government said it had achieved a 33% reduction as of end-2013...

1 December 2015: High politics, projects & campaigns, corporate news links

High politics of the Paris talks

Two Big Fights in Paris Climate Talks   11/30/2015 6:00AM       President Obama faces two major battles as delegates meet in Paris this week to tackle climate change -- one with developing nations, and the other with Republicans in Congress. WSJ's Jerry Seib explains.

Paris climate summit: world leaders told to iron out differences before talks end - France steps up diplomatic efforts to get consensus on a global deal six days before official talks conclude by Fiona Harvey and Kim Willsher in Paris 28 November 2015

Christiana Figueres: the woman tasked with saving the world from global warming - The UN climate chief is confident that the Paris summit can make history and produce a landmark deal to limit future carbon emissions – but any success depends on her pivotal role, UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres: ‘We are going to get an agreement [in Paris], because there is enough political will.’ by Fiona Harvey 27 November 2015

Fewer than 50% of CEOs say Paris deal would make them act on climate change - New poll reveals most business leaders are failing to get to grips with long-term implications of global warming by Oliver Balch 4 September 2015

Paris climate talks: powerful business lobbies seek to undermine deal - Tackling climate change means drastically transforming our economies. Our political leaders, not business, are best placed to do that by Pascoe Sabido is a campaigner and researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory 27 November 2015; ...A recent report from the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory reveals that what’s on offer at COP21 is nothing short of a climate catastrophe, a guaranteed recipe to cook the planet. But rather than sending the dish back, political leaders have asked for seconds, bringing the very companies responsible for the problem ever closer into the UN fold.....  The problem, however, is that is has also succeeded in creating several platforms to ensure business-friendly proposals are at the heart of climate policy-making, rather than vice versa. New markets, experimental technologies, all endorsed so polluters don’t have to change their business models. The UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres – who before taking up her post was principal climate change advisor to Latin America’s leading energy utility, Endesa – has even told the world to “stop demonising oil and gas companies”.... If enough people get behind it, Paris could mark a watershed moment: the beginning of the end for the cosy affair between politicians and polluters...

Projects and campaigns

Prince Charles in plan to help investors take polluting firms to court - Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative will lay out risks to financial returns amid increasing government curbs on emissions by Daniel Boffey Policy editor 27 November 2015; Prince Charles is taking part in a project to expose major polluting corporations based in Commonwealth nations to big-money legal action if they fail to accurately disclose their impact on climate change or reform their ways...

Bill Gates to launch clean energy project on sidelines of Paris climate talks - Microsoft co-founder will announce multi-billion-dollar Initiative Cleantech on opening day of two-week climate summit alongside Barack Obama - Gates will join Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, US president Barack Obama and French president François Hollande to announce Initiative Cleantech. Photograph: Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP/Getty Images  Reuters in Washington 27 November 2015; ...Gates has pledged $2bn of his personal wealth over the next five years to “bend the curve” on climate change, he said this summer.In a blogpost in July, Gates said more breakthrough technologies are needed to combat climate change and that current technologies can only reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a “beyond astronomical” cost. He said accelerating government funding for clean energy research and development is crucial to attracting private investment to the field..

World Bank Group unveils $16 Billion Africa Climate Business Plan to Tackle Urgent Climate Challenges  November 24, 2015; One third of funds expected to come from Bank’s fund for the poorest countries

Corporate news

Unilever to stop using coal for energy within five years  - Consumer goods giant pledges to go ‘carbon positive’ by 2030, generating 100% of its energy needs from renewables with more to spare - Paul Polman, chairman of Unilever, will be attending Paris climate talks with other business leaders. by Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent 27 November 2015  Unilever, the consumer goods giant, has pledged to eliminate coal from its energy usage within five years, and derive all of its energy worldwide solely from renewable sources by 2030. The company will become “carbon positive” by 2030...

TTIP talks: EU alleged to have given ExxonMobil access to confidential strategies - Documents and emails obtained by the Guardian reveal ‘collusion’ between Brussels and industry over the fossil fuel push in free trade negotiations by Arthur Neslen Brussels 26 November 2015; .... The US has banned fossil fuel exports for 40 years but the policy was relaxed towards Mexico in August. Previous leaks of TTIP documents have revealed the EU is pressing for a guarantee in the trade deal that the US will allow free export of oil and gas to Europe, alarming environmentalists who fear imports would impact on the EU’s climate change plans.
It would cost $100bn to build the infrastructure necessary to export the US fossil fuels, according to industry estimates, also released in the freedom of information trawl.

Two-faced Exxon: the misinformation campaign against its own scientists - 100% global warming consensus in Exxon scientists’ research contrasted its $31m campaign to cast doubt on that consensus by Dana Nuccitelli 25 November 2015; ...Investigative journalism by Inside Climate News (ICN) into Exxon’s internal documents revealed that the company was at the forefront of climate research, warning of the dangers posed by human-caused global warming from the late-1970s to the late-1980s. As Harvard climate historian Naomi Oreskes noted...

HCS+ Science Study proposes strong carbon threshold? Update 2b - On the peat / organic soil question

source: Screenshots from HCS Science Study Draft Synthesis Report

Source: Images from HCS Science Study Draft Synthesis Report
with annotations by Khor Reports palm oil blog on key policy features

Key points include:
  • The Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto’s**  HCS+ Science Study "Draft Synthesis Report" proposes oil palm development threshold ceiling for development and a traffic light warning system:  
  •           Green / “may develop” zone is AGB 35-40tC/ha or better (being oil palm equivalent and requiring socio-econ benefits)
  •           Amber / “may develop if” zone (requiring more local socio-econ benefits) is AGB 35-40 to 50tC/ha. Offsets involved? 
  •           Red / no development zone (not allowed even if there are socio-econ benefits) is AGB 50 tC/ha and above
  • It seeks to protect “advanced growth secondary forests” which typically has AGB of 100t/ha (50tC/ha) and more after 20 years. Thus, no matter what the local socio-economic benefit, the target is that 20 year old tropical trees should be protected.
  • For AGB measurement, the LIDAR method is proposed. The cost estimate is $2.50 to $4 per ha; for 10,000 ha that is $25,000 to $40,000.

  • It has a separate and additional soil carbon protection criteria. The threshold is set at 75 tC/ha equivalent . This means max 12.5 cm depth for tropical peat lands and max 12.5 cm to 37.5 cm for tropical organic soils. Experts say there are no major zones of non-peat organic soils in Malaysia, although there are some coastal (non peat) wetlands. Some sustainability specialists note that this would restrict oil palm planting on organic matter rich mineral soils – possibly, newly deforested zones may have such a layer of organic matter? Also, this may strongly affect the ability to replant oil palm in peat zones i.e. no replanting? (Editor's note, 9 July: some consultants are surprised that the palm oil industry expected to replant on peat land
** Key palm oil companies: Asian Agri, Cargill, IOI Corp, KL Kepong, Musim Mas, Sime Darby, Wilmar;  A steering committee (SC), independently co-chaired by Founder Director of Forum for the Future, Sir Jonathon Porritt, and Chief Research Scientist from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Dr John Raison, has been established to oversee the HCS Study. Members of the Steering Committee represent key players in the palm oil value chain which includes the signatories of the Manifesto as well as Wilmar International. They are joined by independent economic advisor for the agribusiness sector, Dr James Fry, Chairman of LMC International, who lends his expertise in international commodities to the process. Observers include representatives from the RSPO, Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), Neste Oil and several other organizations (in the process of joining) who will actively contribute to ensure a transparent, objective and holistic approach...
The threshold – ceilings for agriculture development:
     Above Ground Biomass or AGB + Below Ground Biomass or BGB (i.e. roots) + dead wood
     With this total divided by two to get to carbon per hectare C/ha measure.
     Thus: (100 + 100* 0.25 + 100* 0.25) / 2 = c.75 tC/ha ceiling for any development.
It is handy to refer to already familiar measures used by the RSPO GHG WG and also the TFT / Greenpeace HCS Approach. They do not include measure of BGB roots and litter or dead wood; and both have mentioned 35tC/ha as palm oil equivalent#.
# RSPO has a New Planting Procedure GHG emissions reduction policy where differential values prompt plantation developers to reduce their use of HCS zones. The traceability regimes under TFT/Greenpeace have stepped down from the 35tC/ha starting point; and plantation sustainability specialists reckon that the effective ceiling is a higher figure c. 70-90 tC/ha. Some background here: “Manifesto 5 stepping up efforts (update 5): The tussle over HCS and 35tC/ha” 7 October 2014: So what was the 35tC/ha ceiling? In our talks to specialists, that is the life-time average carbon of the oil palm tree (it is referred to in a key RSPO working group document too); thus NGOs said that to be carbon neutral in some sense, oil palms should not be developed in forested areas with more than its own above ground carbon value. Of course, even the oil palm carbon measure is contested - do you include the fronds, fresh fruit bunches and ground cover etc? You may also ask why a crop is compared to trees - some say that may have been inadvertently abetted by some in the industry claiming that the oil palm is as good as a (forest) trees in the first place. Thus, solidifying the tree basis of comparison (which does not apply to other oilseed crops?)…. So what will be the basis of "no deforestation"? A higher ceiling? Earlier, some spoke of 100tC/ha as a possibility. Some stepped up pledges have added parameters, such as Wilmar's (via a TFT traceability program) which has a multi-year no human use caveat. Individual B2B traceability programs may have varying parameters compared to the multi-stakeholder efforts such as the RSPO-based… Read more, /khorreports-palmoil/2014/09/high-carbon-stock-studies-underway.html And “Over 1000tc/ha carbon stock in one oil palm cycle,” 20 Nov 2013, /khorreports-palmoil/2013/11/over-1000tcha-carbon-stock-in-one-oil.html - if you divide 1000 / 25 years (of the economic life of the oil palm tree) to reach the average of 40tC/ha for oil palm equivalent. Notably, some point to a measure higher than 1000 for the oil palm cycle.

On AGB terms, the HCS+ Science Study proposes a (hard?) ceiling for development at 50 tC/ha for any corporate and corporate-led smallholder development as "conversion not allowed even if local / sub-national benefits arise” in this red / no-go zone. This appears relatively tough. The TFT/Greenpeace HCS Approach is reckoned by some experts to be operationalised at c. 70tC/ha plus*.
*but some differences of opinion highlight the important ambiguities existing 

source: Screenshots from HCS Science Study Draft Synthesis Report
The HCS+ Science Study continues firmly in the tradition that palm oil sustainability is rooted in forestry conservation principles. This was established at the RSPO and also used at TFT/Greenpeace. Specialists point to their origins in the Forest Stewardship Council’s definition and approaches.
So what trees does the HCS+ Science Study seek to protect? “Advanced growth secondary forests”:  these are forests have an AGB of 100t/ha and more. Divide by two (to get to C), you reach the AGB 50tC/ha apparent hard ceiling of no development (no matter what the local socio-economic benefit) to protect 20 year old tropical trees (accumulating 5 tonnes C per year).
What is soil 75 tC/ha equivalent to in range of depth terms? Est. 12.5 cm depth for tropical peat. “a typical tropical peatland has per ha a carbon stock of 6 tons per cm of peat depth. A lower soil carbon threshold of 40 t C ha-1 (the ‘palm oil equivalent’) then translates in a peat layer of 6.7 cm thick”; 122. This means that tropical organic soils always surpass an uppermost 75 t C threshold value when they have an organic layer of more than 37.5 cm thickness, whatever its organic matter content may be, and mostly this is achieved with a thickness of 12.5 cm.
source: Screenshots from HCS Science Study Draft Synthesis Report

The comments below focus on the threshold implications for socio-economic development. It also offers preliminary feedback from several senior industry experts on technical issues and macro trends. Clearly, myriad questions as well as overlapping concerns about an apparent policy halt for oil palm development.

As of 10 July 2015 (update 2), feedback below compiled from 11 people. Please send us your feedback, but more importantly do contribute to the Public Consultation on this Report (Feedback Form:

Socio-economic issues:
source: Screenshots from HCS Science Study Draft Synthesis Report
  1. While the wording suggests no corporate-led smallholder development would be allowed in red zones, it is not clear if state-led (non-private sector corporations) smallholder development and independent smallholder development would be acceptable.
  2. It is so far silent on what a 50tC/ha ceiling looks like in say Papua or West Africa. What is the population in red / no development zones and what are their current incomes and aspirations? What happens to the people residing therein? Can they plant other crops or undertake other economic activities? Does this point to out-migration?
  3. The amber zone (corporate development allowed conditional upon including “major local / sub-national benefits” to local peoples) is set at a range of AGB 35-40 to 50 tC/ha, and corporate plantation development is green lighted (“provided that local / sub-national benefits arise”) if it is below the oil palm equivalent of AGB 35-40 tC/ha. What implementers will be asking: what are acceptable “major local benefits” (amber HCS zone) and what are “local benefits” (green HCS zone).
  4. Industry is surprised that the HCS+ Science Study proposes the same thresholds across all global geographies. Perhaps this is because climate science policy has been its focus so far, while socio-economic implications have yet to be undergo modelling and sensitivity analysis. There had been an expectation that different thresholds would apply to create room for West Africa development, so the red / no-go zone of AGB 50tC/ha for Africa smallholder development seems a surprise.
  5. Test modelling of these proposals would be useful, to find out what the proposed AGB 50tC/ha threshold mean in key future oil palm zones – does it set aside 50%, 60%, 70% or 80% of a region for forest conservation?
  6. While plantation groups and others in the supply-chain are keen to set an “orderly (global) oil palm development policy,” there will be local impacts and local questions. What happens to the people residing in the “red / no development” zones? Can they grow other (tree) crops? What alternative development activity and income opportunity for them? Can they migrate to (and can they be absorbed in) zones set by HCS+ thresholds as green and amber?
  7. Update 1, 9 July: Is there some caveat to cross into the red zone? Can this still be discussed or is this "draft" near final?
On technical issues:
  1. Do the assumed rates, including the 5 tonnes C accumulation per year need to be rechecked? Readers point out that it seems there was no time to do research, but that relies on existing scientific literature.
  2. Why is carbon from trees assumed immediately as emissions when in fact a significant portion of the timber may remain is in use (carbon fixing)? What about carbon in the oil palm FFB (whether on production basis or FFB stock in tree), and is the return of EFB to the field measured?
  3. Why LiDAR? There are more cost effective methods.
  4. If organic-rich (fertile) mineral soils are restricted in use, what is the implication on carbon emission if more fertilizers are needed to plant on less fertile mineral soils?
  5. "As a first reaction, I am very perturbed by Item 68 wherein a single paper by Cowenburg and Hoojer (2013) has been quoted as the basis for the proposition.  This paper is a follow-up to an earlier paper by Hoojer et al (2012), which is so full of technical weaknesses and unjustified assumptions ….  (it is a) questionable data source...." [Editor's note. HCS Science Study: Draft Synthesis Report, 68. Outcome 2: No development involving new or deeper drainage of peat and other highly organic soils. Emissions from drained peat upon conversion are very high (about 17 t C/ha/yr, or 425t C/ha over a 25 year period; Cowenburg and Hoojer, 2013). High emitting soils thus need to be identified and excluded from plantation development. We propose a soil carbon threshold that is expressed in terms of net emissions, and that is equivalent to the biomass threshold (75 t C/ha). The soil threshold thus allows a net loss of soil carbon of a maximum of 75 t/ha over the crop rotation]
  6. "The logic of certain assumptions and scientific justification of some of the quantitative figures need to be questioned/rebutted....”
  7. Update 1, 9 July: This HCS study figure differs from RSPO's 36 t C/ha. The hard threshold of 50 t C/ha appears too low and very little degraded forest will be available for oil palm especially if RSPO takes it up and backdates it to 2005. Does this study, take the starting point as the day the concession is taken over (or what cut-off date?). Why do the thresholds vary? Basically, consultants for oil palm biomass make different assumptions. Some assume oil palm carbon growth is a straight line and take a simple arithmetic mean. But, some argue otherwise i.e. oil palm grows very fast during the early years when there is no self-shading and competition before slowing down. Thus, the integration method (add up biomass for each year and divide by the number of years) works out a different mean value. The difference can be as high as 10 t C/ha. That is why RSPO got a figure of 36 t C/ha. [Editor's note: Cut-off dates matter as AGB carbon accumulates each year. However, we have heard that where there is divergence between AGB carbon between say the RSPO 2005 cut off and the current AGB carbon level, the higher of the two has been used (i.e. auditors are conservative). New programs such as TFT/Greenpeace traceability programs create new cut-off dates e.g. Wilmar's is in December 2013 versus RSPO's 2005 benchmark).
  8. Update 1, 9 July: Report looks rushed - some obvious errors. Can the Report clearly explain any data biases and ambiguities it may have. We need a better, more thorough and nuanced consideration of these. This reads as rather simplified. Has each data point been carefully considered? Is there a range of values? Are there enough appropriate data sources?
  9. Update 2, 10 July:  On the peat / organic soil question [Editor's note: Given reader interest in the peat  question, we reproduce below key excerpts about the peat and organic soil carbon problem and definitions from the Draft Synthesis Report. It seems that the main focus of the Report may be on peat having >45% OM. This can be contrasted with some plantation company policies which define peat as soil with >65% OM. Notably, plantations have not referred to organic-rich soils as being potentially unplantable; this appears to be defined as 20%-45% OM by the Report? The conclusion: "This means that all tropical peatlands, whatever their definition with respect to minimum peat thickness, surpass the uppermost HCS+ threshold value. Therefore, the HCS+ approach merely has to identify the presence of peatlands, not their total soil carbon stock." From item 120: "For the tropics, Wüst et al. (2003) distinguish between ‘peat’ (with > 45 % organic matter OM), ‘muck’ (35 % < x < 45 % OM), ‘organic-rich soil sediment’ (20 % < x < 35%) and ‘mineral soil or sediment’ (<20 % OM)...." - see below for more]. 
  10. Update 2b, 22 July: From a reader on RSPO definition and limitations of peat, "Tropical peat soils are defined in the RSPO Peat BMP Manual as organic soils with 65% or more organic matter and a depth of 50cm or more."

Other macro questions:
  1. Agriculture is said to account for 8% of anthropogenic (man-made) carbon emissions. How much comes from palm oil?
  2. By significantly slowing (possibly near halting?) palm oil with a 50tC/ha ceiling, what is aggregated impact after other oils expand? What about a carbon per tonne oil measure?
  3. "This appears biased towards killing off expansion of oil palm probably in favour of soyabean and rapeseed oil.  I do not agree with many things in the write-up.  Unfortunately, all the big players agreed to this study.  If we accept this, we might as well stop oil palm development...." Note: Perhaps it would be useful to look at tC per tonne oil (and other measures) for the next 10 million tonnes under different oil supply scenarios?
  4. "There is an ominous possibility that this may be developed later to affect replanting on mineral soils under the strategy of “HCS compensation” i.e. growers, notably the big 'boys', will be required  to set aside a significant area for high-intensity reforestation for continued (RSPO?) certification and market access.  In other words, the industry will not only cease to expand but also start to shrink... For peat, no new areas can possibly satisfy the stringent criteria and replanting of existing areas at the end of the current cycle can definitely be ruled out...."
  5. "Item 256 is particularly appalling.  If this is the ultimate conclusion, then the sociological considerations and propositions in the Report merely constitute a 'red herring' - a big one at that!  What I perceive is a very subtle strategy to push through a forestry-cum-peat conservation agenda right under the "noses" of the industry!  Overall, the HCS concept and strategy may well spell the death-knell for any legitimate expansion for the industry (anywhere)."  [Editor's note. HCS Science Study: Draft Synthesis Report, 256. All peat and other organic soils have to be excluded from conversion. All land with mineral soils, and an AGB < 100t/ha are eligible for conversion, unless drainage associated with their conversion would adversely affect the protection of adjacent peat and organic soils. [Editor's note: AGB < 100 t/ha is equivalent to AGB < 50 tC/ha]]
  6. "To me, the issue is where the threshold is set."
  7. Update 1, 9 July: The palm oil industry approach to NGO concerns is still evolving after all this time. It looks like another round of NGO criticisms of the big players.
This document is in public consultation, and you can read and submit your feedback by 31 July 2015 via these links:

Update 2, 10 July 2015 - on the peat / organic soil question

Editor's note: Given reader interest on the peat / organic soil question, we reproduce below key excerpts about the peat and organic soil carbon problem and definitions from the Draft Synthesis Report.  It seems that the main focus of the Report may be on peat having >45% OM. This can be contrasted with some plantation company policies which define peat as soil with >65% OM. Notably, plantations have not referred to organic-rich soils as being potentially unplantable; this appears to be defined as 20%-45% OM by the Report? The conclusion: "This means that all tropical peatlands, whatever their definition with respect to minimum peat thickness, surpass the uppermost HCS+ threshold value. Therefore, the HCS+ approach merely has to identify the presence of peatlands, not their total soil carbon stock."
From item 120: For the tropics, Wüst et al. (2003) distinguish between ‘peat’ (with > 45 % organic matter OM), ‘muck’ (35 % < x < 45 % OM), ‘organic-rich soil sediment’ (20 % < x < 35%) and ‘mineral soil or sediment’ (<20 % OM).

Excerpts from the Report

Brief primer on carbon storage and carbon dynamics in vegetation and soils; 8. The vulnerability of soil C stocks to loss following disturbance varies to a great extent. Loss from drained peat is very high whether caused by microbial oxidation or fire. Losses from microbial oxidation after drainage of peat are of the order of 17 t C/ha/yr. C losses from other (non-peat) organic rich soils can also be very high.

117. The paradigm example of carbon-rich soils are peatlands. However, no globally accepted definition of peatland exists. Peatlands have variously been defined as having a minimum peat layer of 20, 30, 45, 50 or 70 cm thick (Agriculture Canada 1987). These numbers have their background in land use and reflect standard plough depths, thickness before consolidation, and suitability for peat extraction, respectively. Recently, the Indonesian Climate Change Centre proposed for mapping purposes a minimum peat depth of 50 cm2. None of these definitions have been informed by climate relevance. In the HCS+ approach the latter aspect must, however, have a central position.
118. With a conservative carbon density of 0.06 g cm-3 (Dommain et al. 2011; Warren et al. 2012), a typical tropical peatland has per ha a carbon stock of 6 tons per cm of peat depth. A lower soil carbon threshold of 40 t C ha-1 (the ‘palm oil equivalent’) then translates in a peat layer of 6.7 cm thick. This means that isolated, very shallow peat covered soils can be converted with little climate concern.

119. An upper soil carbon threshold of 75 t C /ha translates in a peat depth of 12.5 cm. This means that all tropical peatlands, whatever their definition with respect to minimum peat thickness, surpass the uppermost HCS+ threshold value. Therefore, the HCS+ approach merely has to identify the presence of peatlands, not their total soil carbon stock.

120. Whereas the typical Southeast Asian peat largely consists of organic matter, other peats may hold substantial mineral material. Again, ‘peat’ has not been internationally standardised but has, depending on country and discipline, been defined as requiring a minimal content of 5, 15, 30, 50, 65% or more (dry mass) of organic matter (cf. Andrejko et al. 1983, Agriculture Canada 1987, Driessen & Dudal 1991, Succow & Stegmann 2001). For the tropics, Wüst et al. (2003) distinguish between ‘peat’ (with > 45 % organic matter OM), ‘muck’ (35 % < x < 45 % OM), ‘organic-rich soil sediment’ (20 % < x < 35%) and ‘mineral soil or sediment’ (<20 % OM). The threshold between organic and mineral soils is in most classification systems between 20-35 % OM (~12-20 % organic carbon; cf. Wüst et al. 2003). The latter definition is largely in line with the definition of ‘organic soil’ of FAO and IPCC (see below). The World Reference Base for soil resources (WRB 2014) uses a minimum of 20 % organic carbon (~ 35 % OM) to qualify as an organic soil. The commonly referred to FAO definition of ‘histosol’ (1998, 2006/7) is rather complex: It refers not only to the thickness of soil layers and their organic content but also to their origin, underlying material, clay content and annual period of water saturation.

121. The amount of soil organic matter (SOM) is commonly expressed as a percentage of the dry bulk weight of a soil. This weight percentage does not translate linearly into the climatically more relevant carbon density Cd, as SOM is lighter than mineral soil components. The lower boundary for carbon content of an FAO organic soil is 18% by weight in a soil otherwise consisting of clay. The bulk density of this soil is about 0.14 g cm-3 (Ruehlmann & Körschens 2009), which means the Cd is 0.026 g cm-3. Increased amounts of SOM result in lower dry weight and consequently Cd is calculated as a higher percentage of a lower weight. As a result, Cd decreases to 0.024 g cm-3 for a carbon content of 30% and then increases to 0.06 g cm-3 for a purely organic soil (57% C; see above). So the Cd of an organic soil with admixture of clay is always higher than 0.02 g cm-3. The value of 0.02g cm-3 corresponds to the lowest values in the analysis of Warren et al. (2012) on Indonesian peat soils. For such soils, a lower threshold of 40 t C ha-1 would be achieved with an organic soil thickness of 20 cm, an upper threshold of 75 t C ha-1 with a thickness of 37.5 cm (Figure L). When sand is mixed in, the bulk density of the soil is much higher and Cd is never below 0.06 g cm-3 (Figure L).

122. This means that tropical organic soils always surpass an uppermost 75 t C threshold value when they have an organic layer of more than 37.5 cm thickness, whatever its organic matter content may be, and mostly this is achieved with a thickness of 12.5 cm.

References cited in draft report specifically mentioning "peat" in titles include:
  • Andriesse, A.J. (1988). Nature and management of tropical peat soils. FAO Soils Bulletin 59, FAO Rome. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Jun 2015]
  • Ballhorn, U., Jubanski, J., Siegert, F. (2011). ICESat/GLAS data as a measurement tool for peatland topography and peat swamp forest biomass in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Remote Sensing 3:1957–1982.
  • Couwenberg, J., Hooijer, A. (2013). Towards robust subsidence-based soil carbon emission factors for peat soils in south-east Asia, with special reference to oil palm plantations. Mires and Peat, 12, Article 01, 1–13.
  • Dommain, R., Couwenberg, J., Joosten, H. (2011). Development and carbon sequestration of tropical peat domes in south-east Asia: links to postglacial sea-level changes and Holocene climate variability. Quaternary Science Reviews 30: 999-1010.
  • Englhart, S., Jubanski, J., Siegert, F. (2013). Quantifying Dynamics in Tropical Peat Swamp Forest Biomass with Multi-Temporal LiDAR Datasets. Remote Sensing, 5(5).
  • Jaenicke, J., Rieley, J.O., Mott, C., Kimman, P., Siegert, F. (2008). Determination of the amount of carbon stored in Indonesian peatlands. Geoderma 147:51–158.
  • Lähteenoja, O., Ruokolainen, K., Schulman, L., Alvarez, J. (2009). Amazonian floodplains harbour minerotrophic and ombrotrophic peatlands. Catena 79:140–145.
  • Lawson, I.T., Kelly, T.J., Aplin, P., Boom, A., Dargie, G., Draper, F.C.H., Hassan, P.N.Z.B.P., Hoyos-Santillan, J., Kaduk, J., Large, D., Murphy, W., Page, S.E., Roucoux, K.H., Sjögersten, S., Tansey, K., Waldram, M., Wedeux, B.M.M., Wheeler, J. (2014). Improving estimates of tropical peatland area, carbon storage, and greenhouse gas fluxes. Wetlands Ecology and Management 10.1007/s11273-014-9402-2.
  • Phillips S, Rouse GE, Bustin RM (1997) Vegetation zones and diagnostic pollen profiles of a coastal peat swamp, Bocas del Toro, Panama´. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclim Palaeoecol 128:301–338.
  • Warren, M.W., Kauffman, J.B., Murdiyarso, D., Anshari, G., Hergoualc’h, K., Kurnianto, S., Purbopuspito, J., Gusmayanti, E., Afifudin, M., Rahajoe, J., Alhamd, L., Limin, S., Iswandi, A. (2012). A cost-efficient method to assess carbon stocks in tropical peat soil. Biogeosciences 9: 4477–4485.

ESG / socially responsible investing (update 1a): RGE/APRIL and Roger Federer-Credit Suisse, Singapore Urges SEA Lenders to Better Screen Palm Oil Investment, Conservation International and Hollywood stars

Environmental and social governance or socially responsible investing is becoming an increasingly important topic as NGO advocacy campaigning on this steps up. We attended a recent talk in Singapore. Not surprisingly as the financial center for Southeast Asia, it was a core topic.

Read here: Singapore Dialogue (update 1a): SIIA / Simon Tay dialogue in Singapore centered on palm oil sustainability, Indonesia extends moratorium, ASEAN banks under WWF spotlight /khorreports-palmoil/2015/05/attended-siia-simon-tay-dialogue-in.html

Key recent reports include:
  • WWF: ASEAN regional banks and investors behind on Environmental, Social and Governance standards Posted on 13 May 2015; Singapore – A WWF report finds an alarming gap between regional ASEAN financial institutions and the environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards adopted by their international counterparts. 
  • TUK-Profundo report on top 25 tycoon-owned Indonesia palm oil groups and their financiers.

20 May 2015: Singapore Urges SEA Lenders to Better Screen Palm Oil Investment; Roger Federer-Credit Suisse answer on RGE/APRIL funding query and it's also important to note that USA NGOs have become more active in the soft commodity sector of Southeast Asia with notable Conservation International campaign with Hollywood stars as spokespersons.

Singapore Urges SEA Lenders to Better Screen Palm Oil Investment By Erwida Maulia on 09:07 pm May 17, 2015; Singapore. The Singaporean government has called on financial institutions operating in Southeast Asia to exercise caution in funneling funds to palm oil producers, saying scrutiny on the sector continues to intensify with recurring problems in transboundary haze. Banks have acted as an important source of capital for the region’s palm oil industry, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said last week. Citing a 2010 report by BankTrack, he said lenders provided an estimated 24 percent of the total financing needed for the sector globally, with more than $50 billion invested in the Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil sectors alone during the decade prior to the release of the study. “The number has grown significantly since then. And this includes local sources of capital from within Indonesia and Malaysia,” Balakrishnan said in a keynote speech during the second annual Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources held last Wednesday. With the recurring issue of transboundary haze, he added, calls have intensified for companies and individuals “all the way down” the supply chain to be held accountable for deforestation — the main culprit behind recurring forest fires in Indonesia and haze affecting neighbors Singapore and Malaysia. “Due to the environmental scrutiny and the campaigns by environmental NGOs, banks have now also become part of the watch list,” the minister said. “And my plea to you, therefore, is please pay attention to this and remember the questions will be asked not only of the companies involved, but also of the financiers and the banks behind the industry.” Balakrishnan added that lenders and other financial institutions are now expected to be more responsible in conducting background checks on palm oil companies. It is not enough to merely see whether their clients would be able to pay their loans and interest rates, he said. How the companies derive their resources, their methods of production, the environmental, social and even political risks they face all must be assessed before banks decide whether they should invest in the business. “These [steps] have to become part and parcel of standard due diligence,” Balakrishnan said.......

Roger Federer encourages rainforest campaigners 19.05.2015; Tennis star asks Credit Suisse to review the bank’s business relationship with Indonesian pulp and paper group RGE/APRIL (BASEL, SWITZERLAND / PULAU PADANG, RIAU, INDONESIA) Tennis star Roger Federer is calling on Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank, to review their business relationship with RGE/APRIL, an Indonesian pulp and paper group that is responsible for the wide-spread clearcutting of rainforests in the Indonesian province of Riau (Sumatra). Federer was approached last month by Isnadi Esman and Woro Supartinah, two Indonesian activists who had travelled to Switzerland to protest against a 50 million Euro loan granted by Credit Suisse to RGE/APRIL.  “I have learnt about your letter to me, outlining the difficult rainforest situation in Riau”, Federer writes to the Indonesian campaigners. “I take your concerns seriously. In response to your letter and as ambassador for Credit Suisse, I would like to emphasize that I will advocate for and have complete trust that they analyse such issues thoroughly, evaluate all options and that their decisions are well thought out.” The tennis star continues: “Additionally, I encourage you to continue the ongoing dialogue with Credit Suisse in order to minimize any sustainability issues and increase the common understanding.” On 24 April 2015, Isnadi and Woro informed Credit Suisse’s top management on RGE/APRIL’s conduct in Riau at the bank’s annual general meeting in Zurich. The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Joachim Oechslin, promised to personally vet every potential future transaction with the Indonesian group. RGE/APRIL has been accused of illegal logging, peatland clearing and numerous human rights violations in their operations in Riau. Credit Suisse, together with a number of Chinese banks, are the Indonesian group’s main financial backers.

Conservation International. US NGO with Hollywood stars. Published on 5 Oct 2014: Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Kevin Spacey, Edward Norton, Penélope Cruz, Robert Redford and Ian Somerhalder all join forces to give nature a voice. Watch the films and take action at Youtube vids here:
  • Nature Is Speaking – Edward Norton is The Soil | Conservation International (CI) by ConservationDotOrg 317,373 views 1:26
  • Nature Is Speaking – Penélope Cruz is Water | Conservation International (CI)   by ConservationDotOrg  208,102 views 1:29 
  • Nature Is Speaking – Kevin Spacey is The Rainforest | Conservation International (CI)   by ConservationDotOrg  405,505 views 1:46 
  • Nature Is Speaking – Harrison Ford is The Ocean | Conservation International (CI)   by ConservationDotOrg  550,312 views 2:04 
  • Nature Is Speaking – Lupita Nyong'o is Flower | Conservation International (CI)   by ConservationDotOrg  439,588 views 1:36 
  • Nature Is Speaking – Robert Redford is The Redwood | Conservation International (CI)   by ConservationDotOrg  145,790 views
  • Nature Is Speaking – Ian Somerhalder is Coral Reef | Conservation International (CI)   by ConservationDotOrg  285,954 views 1:37 
  • Nature Is Speaking – Julia Roberts is Mother Nature | Conservation International (CI)   by ConservationDotOrg  1,380,592 views 1:59 
  • Nature Is Speaking: Tang Wei is Flower - 大自然在說話:湯唯聲演「花」| 保護國際基金會 (CI)   by ConservationDotOrg  5,727 views