European Investments Assist Land Grabs for Palm Oil in Liberia
European funded palm oil expansion in Liberia linked to social and environmental damage
By Friends of the Earth Europe, Friends of the Earth Liberia | Brussels, Belgium / Monrovia, Liberia, Jun 24 2013
pension funds and private equity funds have given financial assistance worth
more than €450 million to Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby, responsible for
environmental degradation and violations of national regulations in Liberia,
according to new research from Friends of the Earth Europe .
independent impact assessment released today (Monday 24th) by Reading University
reveals that Sime Darby operations could lead to a loss of biodiversity, food
sources and livelihoods - leading to chronic poverty. There would also be
significant environmental impacts with the loss of primary and secondary forest.
Silas Kpanan'Ayoung Siakor, campaigner for Friends of the Earth
Liberia said:"Investments in agriculture can benefit the poor, but the reality
in Liberia is very different. Farmers are losing their land and livelihoods, the
rights of those living in poverty in rural areas are being violated, and the
forests on which communities depend are increasingly threatened. I see no
guarantees that rural communities will benefit in any meaningful way from
investments in palm oil."
Sime Darby, which receives financial assistance
from European banks and pension funds including the Norwegian pension fund,
UK-based Schroder investment management and Dutch funds PfZW, has signed a
63-year lease with the government of Liberia for 311,187 hectares  to grow
palm oil, according to Friends of the Earth Liberia and allies .
initiative comprised of the private sector, civil society and the Liberian
government found Sime Darby culpable of failing to comply with local land laws;
and of failing to conduct public consultations or produce due diligence reports
as required by Liberian rules  - directly contradicting investor policies
that require companies to respect national laws and environmental
Anne van Schaik, accountable finance campaigner for Friends
of the Earth Europe said: "European funds need to stop financing land grabs in
Liberia. Even though most investors have sustainability principles there are no
effective procedures in place to deal with violations - which makes these
policies meaningless. Investors and financiers need to put their money where
their mouth is and pressure Sime Darby to stop grabbing land."
the Earth Europe is calling on investors and financiers of Sime Darby to
pressure the company to clean up its operations, or risk divestment. European
banks and pension funds should not be contributing to land conflicts with local
communities, deforestation or to companies who violate national law. Sime Darby
should bring an immediate end to land-grabbing and deforestation, ensure
adequate compensation, and any future development should obey national law and
ensure free, prior and informed consent from affected