The following guest blog is a call to action by RAN ally Adelbert Gangai on behalf of his people in Papua New Guinea.
Please watch this compelling short interview with Adelbert speaking to RAN staff at last month’s Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meeting in Sumatra, Indonesia.
You can read more from Adelbert below:
My name is Adelbert Gangai. I am from the Maisin tribe and work with the nine tribes from the Collingwood Bay region of Papua New Guinea. Our culture is intrinsically entwined and our livelihoods are entirely dependent on the primary forests and pristine marine environment that surrounds us.
But recently there is a threat that a palm oil company called KLK will destroy the subsistence life style we have maintained since time immemorial by attempting to illegally develop over 100,000 acres of our customary lands against our will.
Our chiefs issued a rare joint communiqué in 2010 voicing the consensus of the residents of Collingwood Bay – who total over 7,000 people from 326 clans in 22 villages scattered across our coastline – that we do not wish to have palm oil plantations established on our land under any circumstances.
Will you stand with us and send a message today to KLK’s principal banker – HSBC – asking it to use its influence to urge KLK to stop these misguided plans before this controversy escalates into a full blown conflict?
RAN sponsored a colleague and myself this past month to bring our case to the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Sumatra. Thanks in large part to the pressure generated by over 12,000 RAN supporters like you, who took action to demand that KLK meet with us and that the RSPO finally take steps to address the formal complaint we filed more than a half a year ago, progress was made on both fronts.
Thank you for making this an issue that KLK and the RSPO can no longer ignore. But no real commitments have yet been made and right now, large earth moving equipment and a KLK barge containing palm oil seeds still sits just off our coastline. The anxiety this has created has driven members of our community to establish a blockade between the ship and the access route to our land.
We would now like to ask our friends and partners in the international community to take up our call and increase the pressure on KLK by asking one of its key financiers, HSBC, to use its leverage with KLK to push for a total withdrawal from our territory. For good.
We have witnessed what has happened to other communities in Papua New Guinea and around the world whose lands have been developed with oil palms. They have been marginalized and become slaves on their own land. We do not wish this for the people of Collingwood Bay.
Our communities have fought and won against multinational corporations trying to develop our lands before. With your help, we will prevail in preserving this special place once again.
Thank you so much for your support,