Civil society groups assert their right to expose the impacts of palm oil production
Civil society organisations from around the world condemn the statements by representatives of palm oil companies during a meeting with the Malaysian government. In this meeting, the company representatives called critical NGOs "toxic entities" and asked the Malaysian government to not let these NGOs into the country. Both ENDS' partners have published a reaction in which they defend their right "to expose the realities we face in their communities about the impacts of the palm oil sector".
On 4 February 2020, Reuters reported that during a meeting with Malaysian government officials in Kuala Lumpur, representatives from some of the world's largest palm oil companies and industry lobby groups have stated that NGOs were "toxic entities", that they were "orchestrating attacks on palm oil" and suggested that governments should ban international NGOs from entering their countries and should "do something drastic for once".
CSOs meet to address impacts of palm oil
Coincidentally, at the same time Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Programme gathered with local partners and civil society organisations from around the world in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. The meeting brought together 33 representatives of 25 environmental justice, human rights, women's, youth and indigenous peoples' organisations from 11 palm oil-producing countries from Latin America, Africa and South East Asia who are working to address the negative impacts of the palm oil industry.
The purpose of this meeting was to build connections between civil society groups responding to the local impacts of the industry at a global level, to explore potential reforms in the countries and the industry internationally so that palm oil production brings genuine development. It provided a space to share their experiences across borders and regions, and to discuss potential reforms in their home countries and internationally to address the devastating environmental and human rights impacts of the palm oil business.
Freedom of expression
Statements seeking to vilify and discredit civil society groups for defending the human rights of local peoples, to silence efforts to expose the realities of palm oil production on local communities and the environment, or to incite government sanctions or punishment for local civil society or community leaders that exercise their right to freedom of expression have no place in public debate and should be condemned in the strongest terms.
Therefore we are glad to read in the same article that two Malaysian ministers confirm that the government wants to continue working with NGOs.
Kota Kinabalu Statement on Palm Oil and Freedom of Expression
As a reaction, the civil society organisations issued the Kota Kinabalu Statement on Palm Oil and Freedom of Expression. This statement highlights the range of impacts suffered by local people in plantation zones and exposes how government policy and company behaviour increases, rather than reduces, the impacts, difficulties, risks and dangers faced by local communities and the civil society organisations helping them defend their rights.
Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Programme support the Kota Kinabalu Statement. We call on all palm oil companies to uphold their duty to respect environmental limits and human rights, including the right to freedom of expression. We remind governments of both palm oil-producing and consuming countries that their first obligation is to respect, protect and promote the rights of their people.
For more information
Read more about this subject
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.
News / 23 November 2018
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.
News / 28 June 2018
Last week, indigenous leaders from various countries were in Paris to urge action on deforestation and human rights abuses at the multi-stakeholder meeting of the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership. The group, invited by Forests Peoples Programme and Both ENDS, presented a publication 'Supply chain solutions for people and forests' containing a set of practical recommendations from local communities on how to make supply chains more sustainable and fair.
News / 15 May 2018
Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Program have formally requested the European Parliament, Commission and Council and the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, to consult indigenous and local communities impacted by EU trade in palm oil and other agricultural commodities in formal EU policy deliberations on these topics. Why did we decide to do so and what's it all about? Our colleague Michael Rice sheds some light on the matter.
Blog / 29 January 2018By Michael Rice
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).
News / 14 June 2019
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.
News / 24 October 2017
On 30 September 2017 Both ENDS submitted a position statement on the draft Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil National Action Plan. The draft National Action Plan purports to represent a blue print for improving the sustainability of the Indonesian palm oil industry. However, Both ENDS has significant concerns about the logic, rationale and purpose behind the draft National Action Plan and its legitimacy as a benchmark for a sustainable palm oil industry.
News / 8 December 2015
Both ENDS has, as a member of the RSPO, participated in a dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Netherlands is the largest importer of palm oil in Europe and wants to promote sustainable trade and production chains.
News / 12 December 2017
We are outraged and saddened to hear that Hernán Bedoya, a brave Colombian community leader and human rights defender, has been brutally murdered. After numerous threats to his life and despite all the best efforts of local groups to provide him with protection (such as bullet proof vests, cell phone etc.) he was shot dead by paramilitaries last Friday the 8th of December, while riding home on his horse.
Video / 30 June 2017
Farmer in Kiungkang, West-Kalimantan, talks about the effects of the palm oil plantation around his village on food production and the health of the population.
Video / 18 November 2013
Between 2010 and 2013, Both ENDS, together with Indonesian and Dutch organisations and universities, conducted a project in the district of Sanggau in West-Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, Indonesia. The project was meant to help local communities with the recognition of their land rights and. This is a beautiful short documentary about how the people of one of these villages responded to the ever expanding palm oil plantations around them.
News / 5 September 2016
By 2020, the EU wants a larger percentage of fuel used for transportation to consist of renewable sources, such as biofuel. Many European countries have therefore made the blending of biofuels in diesel and gasoline mandatory. A large proportion of this biofuel is now palm oil.
Publication / 26 July 2018
Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP) is a rights-based approach ensuring inclusive and gender-responsive land governance, especially for those whose rights to land are not fully acknowledged.
News / 30 June 2017
In 2005, a palm oil company approached the villagers of Kiungkang in West-Kalimantan, Indonesia, with offers to convert their farms to oil palm smallholdings. Many farmers agreed to the proposal because of the high monthly incomes promised by the company that they could earn from the oil palms. Unfortunately, the palm oil dream turned out to be an illusion.
Together with civil society organisations from all over the world, the Fair Green and Global (FGG) Alliance aims for socially just, inclusive and environmentally sustainable societies in the Netherlands and the Global South.
Blog / 18 January 2019
Unambitious and uninspiring: the European Commission’s proposal for stepping-up action on global deforestationBy Michael Rice
After five years of equivocation the European Commission has proposed a ‘roadmap’ for stepping-up EU action to address its contribution to global deforestation. Despite the escalating impact of EU trade in forest-risk commodities, regardless of repeated calls from the European Parliament for regulatory measures and contrary to the conclusions of the Commission’s own feasibility study in support of legislative intervention, the Commission has ruled-out out any new initiatives, let alone any legislative measures. The Commission’s solution to this complex problem: policy coherence.
Publication / 27 June 2018
News / 28 February 2018
Human Rights defenders from all over the world visit EU to call for strong measures against deforestation
This week, from 12 until 16 February, fourteen indigenous leaders and human rights defenders from forest countries came to the Netherlands to call upon Dutch policy makers to take serious action against human rights abuses, land grabbing and further deforestation in relation to large scale agriculture, timber logging and mining. The Dutch harbours of Rotterdam and Amsterdam receive enormeous amounts of soy and palm oil, both for the Dutch market and for further transport into Europe and elswhere.
News / 22 April 2013
Between 2010 and 2013, Both ENDS, within an alliance of Indonesian and Dutch organisations and universities, conducted a pilot project to improve the spatial planning in the district of Sanggau in West-Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, Indonesia, to help local communities with the recognition of their land rights. We can show you a beautiful documentary about one of the villages in this district, Terusan.