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RSPO certification not solution to climate crisis, say campaigners

Friends of the Earth Africa (FoEA) participants attending a two-day strategy meeting on Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and industrial Plantation expansion in Lome, Togo have concluded that the certification of industrial oil palm plantation companies by the RSPO may not be the appropriate solution to the climate crisis.

Palm oil plantation
A palm oil plantation

At the conclusion of the meeting, the FoEA groups said that the certification scheme licenses forest destruction and biodiversity destruction in the African continent.

In a statement issued on Saturday, December 7, 2019, they explained that the growing rate of land grabbing and deforestation for agro commodities expansion especially oil palm plantations in Africa is unacceptable.

”We reject certification that promotes profits over people.  We believe that putting the management of forests in the hands of communities through a sustainable method of  community forest management is a solution to reducing the greenhouse gas emission which industrial plantation expansion fails to address,” said Rita Uwaka, Coordinator, Forest & Biodiversity Programme, FoE Africa.

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”RSPO is a tool for greenwashing. These companies use RSPO to operate their activities, destroy forests, take over land and above all make big profits at the expense of communities deprived of their resources,” submitted Ekue Assem, Media Coordinator, FoEAfrica.

The text of the statement reads:

RSPO has failed to ensure adequate compliance with its standard despite adopting a new higher standard for palm oil production.

We denounce the claim that RSPO is halting the deforestation footprint of their certified oil palm companies in Africa and beyond as large areas of forest and communal farmlands continue to be stolen by the private corporations for oil palm plantation expansion. This poses grave danger to people and planet.

We denounce the increased repression, coercion, intimidation and violence against human rights defenders, community rights activists and women in different communities and landscapes hosting these oil palm plantation companies and other agro commodities corporations in Africa.\We reject the current capitalist agribusiness model that flourishes on patriarchy and gender injustice.

RSPO certification has led to more scramble for land and resources in Africa with failure to address the root causes of deforestation and land grabbing associated with oil palm plantation expansion across the continent.

RSPOs principle of prosperity is focused on making profits over people and communities that play host to them without strict compliance for human and environmental rights in countries of operation.

We want concrete commitment backed with strict legislations that cannot be corrupted, not voluntary market-based mechanisms that lacks political will to regulate the oil palm commodity market and companies.

As the world gathers in Madrid to discuss the climate emergencies, we see the need to call for the rejection of this misleading certification scheme that poses more danger to forest and biological diversity, food and energy crises.

They also demanded that governments on the continent take measures that contribute to:

  • strengthen and respect the rights of local communities by putting people over profits.
  • promote agro-ecology and community control of their forests through Community Forest Management. which supports livelihoods and sound environmental and ecosystem conservations efforts.
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