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Major Rainforest Destroyer in Indonesia Pledges to Address its Deforestation Legacy

Sydney Jones

Press Secretary

[email protected]

Carole Mitchell

Sr. Director Communications

[email protected]

Long-awaited palm oil policy by POSCO International sets the stage for action on deforestation

South Korea’s largest trading company, POSCO International, has published a long-awaited zero deforestation policy for its global palm oil operations. The ‘No Deforestation, No Peatland, No Exploitation’ (NDPE) policy includes measures to protect rainforests, safeguard the rights of local indigenous communities, and a pledge to compensate for the group’s deforestation legacy in Papua, Indonesia.

Mighty Earth, which provided input into a draft version of the policy, has been campaigning with allies for over three years to stop the surge of palm oil driven deforestation by POSCO International and other major players in Papua, Indonesia.

“Papua, the third largest rainforest in the world and one of the most biodiverse forest regions on Earth, was largely untouched by the palm oil industry until recent years, but has quickly become the next frontier for palm oil and agribusiness expansion in Indonesia,” said Deborah Lapidus, Senior Campaign Director at Mighty Earth. “POSCO International’s new policy reflects a growing understanding that this magnificent region is worthy of conservation, not destruction.”

“It is encouraging that POSCO International’s new policy includes a commitment to compensate for its legacy of forest destruction – such a pledge is, unfortunately, still rare in the industry, and could set an important precedent if POSCO International follows through. Indeed, the policy broadly sets out worthy standards and goals, but these are just words on paper until we see substantial positive changes on the ground in Papua. Given that most of the concession area has already been cleared, it is critical that the company genuinely remediates for the impacts of its deforestation. It must also prioritize responding to the concerns raised by affected local communities, including issues of land rights and water pollution.”

Using data published by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Mighty Earth mapping analysis indicates that:

  • In 2011, before POSCO International started developing its PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA) concession in Papua, over half (~19,000 hectares) of the area was covered by ‘primary forest’;
  • Between 2012 and 2018, an estimated 27,000 hectares of rainforest were cleared within PT BIA, nearly 80% ofthe total concession area: Over half of this deforestation (nearly 15,000 hectares) was ‘primary forest’.

POSCO International’s destruction of Indonesia’s last remaining forests has been exposed and challenged in numerous reports, field investigations, and campaigns by Mighty Earth and other organizations around the world, including Pusaka and SKP KAMe Meruake based in Indonesia, Korea Federation for Environmental Movements and APIL based in South Korea, Milieudefensie based in the Netherlands, and Friends of the Earth US. In January 2018, POSCO International declared that it had issued a temporary moratorium on deforestation in its Papua palm oil plantation. In June 2018, the world’s fifth largest pension fund, the Dutch ABP, divested from POSCO International over its failure to address its deforestation. In 2015, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Pension Fund, divested its shares in all POSCO companies, following an investigation into its deforestation in Papua.

Photo: Sprawling palm oil plantation PT BIA in Papua, owned by POSCO Daewoo. All the palm oil saplings are growing on top of recently destroyed forest. Taken June 2016, Credit: Mighty Earth

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