By Agbonkhese Oboh
Friends of the Earth Africa, FoEA, has concluded that the certification of industrial oil palm plantation companies by Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, RSPO, is a false solution to the climate crisis.
Also, the FoEA groups, participants at a two-day strategy meeting on RSPO industrial plantation expansion in Africa, said the certification scheme licenses forest destruction and biodiversity destruction in the African continent.
In a statement, they explained that the growing rate of land-grabbing and deforestation for agro-commodities expansion, especially oil palm plantations in Africa, were unacceptable and that the RSPO was greenwashing.
Greenwashing is a form of public relations/disinformation campaign that presents a company’s activities and products as environment-friendly.
Meanwhile, Rita Uwaka, Coordinator, Forest & Biodiversity Programme, FoEA, said: “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.”
“RSPO is actually a tool for greenwashing,” says Ekue Assem, Media Coordinator, FoEA, adding “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.”
The FoEA statement read: “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 agri-business 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.
“RSPO’s 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 lack 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.”
FoEA 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, and promote agro-ecology and community control of their forests through community forest management, which supports livelihoods and sound environmental and ecosystem conservations efforts.