The planned initial public offering (IPO) of Malayan state-owned enterprise Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) will take place this month (28th June). It will be underwritten by Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley; with an expected valuation of around 2.5 billion Euro this will be the second biggest IPO ever, trailing Facebook. A significant detail is that FGVH is controlled by the governing part UMNO, led by Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak. The upcoming privatisation might be prompted by a need to generate capital for the upcoming elections.
On June 5th, World Environment Day, community members at the southern coast of Guatemala protested against the rapid spread of large-scale palm oil, sugar cane and banana plantations in their region. Utz Che', our local partner organisation, joined the march.
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.
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.
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.
Large-scale plans made by governments or companies can often have profound effects on small communities and their environment. Countless people have to move if a dam is built, forests are cleared for new highways, airports or palm oil plantations. Promised compensation is often incomplete or not given at all. For local communities, objecting to such plans is not easy. Nevertheless a community in Uganda has managed to receive fair compensation from the government. Together with the organisations NAPE and AFIEGO, partners of Both ENDS and IUCN NL, the community has persuaded the government to buy new land for those who are forced to move.
According to European Union rules, 10% of agrofuel should be added to every litre of petrol or diesel in 2020. However, current agrofuels like palm oil, soy and rapeseed are no better for the environment.
I’m very happy about the judgement of the Indonesian Constitutional Court, which has ruled on May 16 that woodlands of native communities may no longer be indicated as state forests. This means that the Forest Act, which says all woodlands are owned by the state, has to be adjusted. Because of this law, it was easy for large companies to get permission to start large-scale palm oil and acacia plantations on woodlands that often have been managed by local communities for decades.
Sustainable trade and production initiatives are interesting steps on the way to sustainability. In the past years, Both ENDS has been involved in several sustainability initiatives, such as Fair Flowers and Fair Plants, Forest Garden Tea and the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Likewise, through our network of locally-based partner organizations, we monitor the consequences of global trade in general and the development of sustainability initiatives in particular. Both ENDS and partner organizations have in-depth knowledge about the diversity of challenges that sustainability initiatives face