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Asia’s Largest Agribusiness Company Adopts Policy to Protect Forests and Communities

December 6th, 2013

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.
Photo courtesy of Greenpeace

Photo courtesy of Greenpeace

Wilmar, Asia’s largest agribusiness company, which controls 45 percent of the global palm oil trade, has issued a new policy to protect forests, respect human rights, and enhance community livelihood. The company joined consumer products’  leader Unilever, in committing to a “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation, No High Carbon Stock, Traceable Sourcing Policy” for both its own plantations and third party suppliers. NGOs working on the issue, led by Climate Advisers and The Forest Trust (TFT), say the initiative has the potential to dramatically cut deforestation and climate pollution, while boosting prosperity.

This policy follows a decade of aggressive and effective advocacy for sustainable and responsible palm oil by nonprofit organizations around the world. Recently, activist shareholders concerned about sustainability issues, including the Missionary Oblates, sent letters asking for policy changes to to 40 major palm oil producers, financiers and consumers including Wilmar, Golden Agri Resources, Unilever, and HSBC. The letters were coordinated by Green Century Capital Management and were signed by major institutional investors from the U.S. and Europe representing approximately $270 billion in assets under management.

The announcement represents a vital new approach for Wilmar International, which in addition to its importance in the palm oil trade, 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.

Wilmar’s policy on palm oil is available online here.

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.

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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