Asia Pulp & Paper defends CSR commitments following damning report

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has insisted it is committed to supporting the rights of communities in and around its operations after an investigation of the firm claimed it is 'lagging behind' on its social responsibility efforts.

An independent, field-based survey initiated by a coalition of Indonesian and International NGOs and community-based organisations concluded there is “little evidence to date that APP is taking sufficient action to resolve land conflict issues”.

With the exception of progress in two communities where APP is piloting conflict resolution approaches, the investigation found there has been little change for communities embroiled in land disputes with the pulp and paper giant. Hundreds of land conflicts remain and APP has been failing to involve affected communities and other key stakeholders in the identification, analysis and resolution of these conflicts, the report claims.

Improving transparency

Commenting on the coalition’s findings, Patrick Anderson from Forest Peoples Programme said: “APP still has a tremendous amount of work to do before we can say that their commitments are yielding satisfactory remedies to conflicts on the ground.

“APP is still failing to effectively involve communities and other key stakeholders in developing action plans and efforts to scale up its conflict resolution. If the situation doesn’t change, we’re concerned that the company’s efforts will not secure durable and equitable agreements at scale.”

Lafcadio Cortesi of Rainforest Action Network added: “If APP wants to regain the trust and business of customers and investors, it must improve transparency, work more effectively with stakeholders and prove that it has sufficiently implemented its commitments to a point where it can demonstrate widespread and positive impacts on the ground.

“In order for APP to scale-up conflict resolution and prevent further deforestation in the remaining natural forests in their concessions, the company will need to give back more of the land it is currently using for pulp wood plantations to meet community livelihood needs and land claims.”

APP response

In February 2013, APP unveiled a new Forest Conservation Policy, which set out the company’s commitments to end deforestation across its supply chain and address ‘land grabs’, human rights violations and wildlife habitat destruction.

Following this report, APP has admitted “there is much more to be done” and the report will be “fully investigated”. An APP spokesperson told edie: “APP has long been committed to supporting the rights of communities in and around our operations and those of our suppliers.

“Although there is much more to be done, we have had some early successes, such as our work with the community in Senyerang, which was recognised as a land conflict success story by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta. We have also made agreements with all communities with tenure rights as part of the implementation of FPIC at the site of our new mill in OKI South Sumatra.

“Social issues have been incorporated into a specialist committee (the Social Issues Working Group) of APP’s NGO stakeholder forum, the Solutions Working Group – of which RAN is a founder member.

“We welcome all feedback on the work we are doing with communities as well as the wider FCP. This report will be entered into our grievance procedure and fully investigated. In addition, the issues raised will be covered by the Rainforest Alliance in its upcoming evaluation report.”

The study conducted interviews with village leaders and community members from 17 communities impacted by APP and its affiliates, including visits to three APP concessions where the company has initiated conflict-resolution pilot projects. 

Read our exclusive feature article from APP’s managing director of sustainability Aida Greenbury here.

Report executive summary

Luke Nicholls

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