The oil palm company Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) has expressed appreciation for Greenpeace progress report on its principal investor, Golden Agri Resources (GAR). On 22 December 2014, Greenpeace published a report on Gar, giving its views on GVL operations here.
According to a press release, since early 2013, GVL has worked with partners, including Greenpeace, to implement robust policies and procedures to manage environmental and social impacts, prevent deforestation and develop land with local communities free, prior and informed consent.
GVL says it recognizes that prior to, and in the startup phases, the approaches to community engagement and deforestation were not adequate. The release said from 2013, the company has detailed and put to practice the implementation of Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) based on the emerging High Carbon Stock approach. “GVL appreciates that this work is noted in the Greenpeace report.”
However, It said work remains to be done to develop a robust, multi-stakeholder defined Landscape-based conservation and development approach based on viable economic business model, which achieves the objectives of countering deforestation together with respecting communities’ rights and aspirations, and supporting the national development goals of Liberia.
GVL is expecting to further engage with the Government and other institutional stakeholders, while recognizing the current Ebola crisis impact on immediate Government priorities. Engagement with communities is ongoing. “Our Social and Community Engagement Policy (SCEP) articulates our commitment to a robust Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) approach. We have worked since April 2013 with the infield support of The Forest Trust (TFT) as advisor and monitor.”
GVL said it believes that its updated FPIC approach has helped the company develop a constructive engagement with communities who have invited GVL to work with them, and recognizes the challenges and the need for continuous development of community information and FPIC engagement activities. It said this is important particularly in a post-conflict society such as Liberia, where opportunities and concerns may quickly divide communities.
The company says it strives to engage sensitively and transparently with communities and interest groups, as well as pre-empt or promptly address any grievances that may arise, while welcoming dialogue and participation with civil society organizations committed to work with partner communities.
“We appreciate Greenpeace’s constructive inputs and treat them seriously. There appear to be also factual inaccuracies, outdated comments and recommendations that should be updated and expanded, perhaps reflecting the fact that Greenpeace has not visited our areas of operation in Liberia since November 2013. We will post a full assessment of the inputs and our recommendations for next steps in the coming days after a comprehensive review”, the release added.
GVL prides itself as a committed long-term investor in Liberia and asserts its commitment to ensuring minimal impact to forests, providing positive impacts to communities, and national development.