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World’s biggest palm oil trader responsible for illegal logging and violating Human Rights

Rabobank and Standard Chartered main European financiers
By Milieudefensie | Jakarta, Amsterdam, Jul 3 2007
Wilmar, the world’s biggest trader in palm oil, is illegally logging rainforests, setting forests on fire and violating the rights of local communities in Indonesia, according to a new report published today by Friends of the Earth Netherlands.

Paul de Clerck, Corporates Campaigner at Friends of the Earth International, said: “This report reveals that Indonesian palm oil traded by Wilmar is scandalous and damaging the environment. Forests are being cut and burnt down illegally, Indonesian laws are being broken and local people are suffering.”

Europe is one of the world’s biggest palm oil importers, with palm oil used as an ingredient in many food products and cosmetics, and increasingly as a biofuel. Wilmar supplies multinational companies such as Unilever, Nestle and Cargill.

Rully Syumanda, Forest Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Indonesia / WALHI said “Europe's growing demand for palm oil is leading to environmental and social devastation”.

The palm oil industry has attempted to market the trade as environmentally and socially sustainable, but this report exposes these policies as hollow and inadequate. Singapore-based multinational Wilmar is a member of the industry-led Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and is funded by the World Bank’s private arm as well as private European banks which have codes of conduct against unsustainable palm oil.

Rabobank and Standard Chartered Bank are the main European financers.

Anne van Schaik of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said: “Rabobank apparently has a code of conduct for financing palm oil, but absurdly this doesn’t apply to the handful of general loans that the bank gives to Wilmar. The code of conduct is therefore meaningless – boosting Rabobank’s image but doing nothing to protect against illegal deforestation.”

Milieudefensie and two Indonesian non-profit organisations investigated  three plantations of Wilmar International Ltd. on West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Specifically, the report reveals:

  • The Indonesian authorities are suing Wilmar for intentional and systematic illegal burning of forests to clear land for plantations;
  • Wilmar has violated an Indonesian law that requires approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment before palm oil development begins;
  • Wilmar is clearing forest beyond its allocated borders and without the legally required permits;
  • Wilmar has cleared areas of forest that local communities have customary rights to, without even consulting them.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) has filed complaints to the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil and to the private arm of the World Bank – the International Finance Corporation.

For further information see the reports:

Policy, practice, pride and prejudice
Buyers and financiers of the Wilmar group

IN EUROPE: Friends of the Earth International: Paul de Clerck, Tel: +32-494380959 (Belgian mobile) - Milieudefensie: Anne van Schaik, Tel: +31-629593877 (Dutch mobile) - IN INDONESIA: Rully Syumanda, Forest Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Indonesia / WALHI, Tel: + 62- 813-19966998 (Indonesian mobile number)

Milieudefensie Website

Wilmar Group
Wilmar International (WLIL.SI), founded in 1991 and headquartered in Singapore is one of the world's largest agribusinesses. It is involved in a wide range of businesses,…

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