TFT and Climate Advisers Welcome Wilmar’s Transformative Policies to Protect Forests and People

By Joel Finkelstein
Forests & Lands, Political Strategy

Wilmar, Asia’s largest agribusiness company, commits to No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation, No High Carbon Stock, Traceable Sourcing Policy for both its own plantations and third party suppliers.

Unilever and Wilmar announce a new Memorandum of Understanding to protect forests, respect human rights, and enhance community livelihood. Climate Advisers and TFT say initiative has potential to dramatically cut deforestation and climate pollution, while boosting prosperity. Product of months of discussions between TFT, Climate Advisers, Wilmar and Unilever. Agreement bolstered by effective ongoing advocacy by worldwide NGO community.

SINGAPORE – Climate Advisers and The Forest Trust (TFT) today joined Asia’s largest agribusiness company, Wilmar International, and consumer products leader, Unilever, to announce an agreement to protect forests and communities through its new policy. Crucially, the policy applies not only to Wilmar’s own operations, but also to its subsidiaries and third-party suppliers. As part of its commitment, Wilmar will work with suppliers to immediately move development activities away from High Carbon Stock (HCS), peat, and High Conservation Value (HCV) lands.

The announcement represents a vital new approach for Wilmar International, which stands astride the global palm oil industry through its control of 45 percent of palm oil trade, and is a significant player in other commodities like sugar and soybeans. The announcement sets a responsible path forward for one of the most environmentally intensive commodities on earth.

Link to Wilmar’s announcement

Link to Wilmar’s policy

The policy includes numerous provisions to change the way commodities are sourced:

  • No Deforestation: No more cutting down the rainforest for agricultural production.
  • No Exploitation: Protect the rights of workers and communities, including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
  • Protects High Carbon Stock landscape, including peatlands of any depth.
  • Protects High Conservation Value forests: No more clearing of forests that are habitat for endangered species, such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers, elephants, and rhinos.

Throughout the process of developing these policies, TFT and Climate Advisers were at the table working for the strongest possible commitments. This policy follows a decade of aggressive and effective advocacy for sustainable and responsible palm oil by nonprofit organizations around the world, recently including Climate Advisers’ campaign affiliate Catapult and the Forest Heroes Campaign.

“Six months ago, fires from out-of-control deforestation in Indonesia choked Singapore and much of Southeast Asia – fires made possible by a no-questions-asked palm oil sector. This agreement could mark the start of a new ‘Green Revolution’ that provides the deforestation-free agricultural goods global consumers are increasingly demanding,” said Glenn Hurowitz, Managing Director of Climate Advisers and Executive Director of Catapult. “Wilmar’s partnership with TFT signals that they’re serious about implementation.”

“Few companies dominate their sectors the way Wilmar dominates palm oil, controlling 45 percent of global trade. Today’s announcement by itself transforms the industry,” said TFT Executive Director Scott Poynton. “It dwarfs in ambition any previous joint commitment in the sector and raises the bar for responsible global agricultural production. We commend Wilmar for their strong new policy, and now is the time for transparent and verifiable implementation.”

Today’s major change to the global palm oil supply follows similar changes in demand from consumer-facing companies. Nestlé was the first company to commit to eliminate deforestation and exploitation from its supply chain in 2010. Just last month, Unilever committed that 100% of the palm oil used in its supply chain would by fully traceable to known sources by the end of next year; and global chocolatier Ferrero announced it would become a TFT member and work to make sure that its supply chain has no link to deforestation by the end of 2014.

Palm oil is a $50 billion a year commodity that makes its way into half of all consumer goods on the shelves. It is in chocolate, baked goods, soaps, detergents, and much more. U.S. imports have increased almost fivefold over the past decade. 85 percent of palm oil is grown on industrial plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, home of some of the largest remaining rainforests in the world. Clearing tropical forests for these plantations threatens the world’s last Sumatran tigers, as well as orangutans, elephants, rhinos and the tens of millions of people who depend on these rainforests to survive. Because of deforestation, Indonesia is the third largest emitter of global warming pollution in the world, behind only China and the United States.

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On December 5, 2013

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