The production of palm oil is often accompanied by deforestation, environmental destruction and land grabbing. Local communities and activists who stand up against these problems are often threatened. Now the RSPO has taken significant steps in recent months to tackle these issues.
Last Thursday June 13, Rahmawati Retno Winarni of TUK, an Indonesian partner organisation of Both ENDS, presented a symbolic tree and an appeal to the Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten, also on behalf of 10 NGOs. The joint NGOs are pushing the EU, including the Dutch government, for strict EU legislation to prevent the destruction of forests and ecosystems and to protect human rights.
Last week Both ENDS’ deputy director, Paul Wolvekamp, was elected board member of the RSPO, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Until November, when new elections will take place. “I hope that after the next elections my place will be taken by a social NGO from the South, because that group is not represented well enough in the RSPO.” Therefore Paul, within the RSPO, aims for a stronger voice of NGO’s, plantation workers and small-scale palm oil producers in the South.
The production of palm oil is causing social and environmental problems worldwide. Both ENDS is working to make the sector fairer and more sustainable and is promoting alternatives for palm oil.
For the past two months, large parts of the rainforests on Sumatra, Kalimantan and other Indonesian islands have caught fire. Each year, parts of these forests are burnt to the ground to make room for palm oil production. An illegal and completely unacceptable practice. This year, though, the fires have become even more violent than usual as the rainy season has not yet arrived. A gigantic amount of smoke has even reached and affected neighboring countries Malaysia and Singapore, and serious respiratory problems – as well as casualties - among the local population are some of the direct consequences of these forest fires. Paul Wolvekamp of Both ENDS has been closely involved in the problematic issues surrounding the production of palm oil.
Both ENDS introduced process to develop a land Dispute Settlement Facility under the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil during RSPO Round Table 6 in Bali.
Pak Japin is a quiet, slim, and softly-spoken man from the village of Silat Hulu, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. I met him at a recent documentary screening in Bali on the fringe of the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) annual conference, where he spoke about his community's nine year-long conflict with palm oil company Golden Agri Resources Ltd (GAR).