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By Devane Sharma

As one of the global leaders in the palm oil sector, Musim Mas is committed to its No Deforestation, Peat, and Exploitation (NDPE) Policy which covers not just its entire global operations but also third-party suppliers. In particular for “No Exploitation,” its efforts are centered around Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). FPIC is a principle that gives a community the right to provide or withhold consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy, or use. Here’s how and why Musim Mas adheres to FPIC principles to support the rights of Indigenous people.

Key issues faced by Indigenous peoples

In Indonesia, some critics of palm oil allege that indigenous communities have been impacted by increased land needs for agriculture and urban development. Global demand for palm oil and other oil crops is rising in tandem with the growth in population, along with the impacts of urbanization and climate change. Combined, these issues create competing land claims and the associated social impacts of a plantation’s presence on local communities.

As a country with 50 to 70 million indigenous people encompassing 2,330 communities and making up roughly 25% of the country’s population1, the Group recognizes that Indonesia’s Indigenous voices and rights must be respected. Guided by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the UN Universal Declaration of Rights, and as a member of the RSPO Human Rights Working Group, Musim Mas is committed to raising the bar on social wellbeing by adhering to FPIC principles.

RSPO concept of FPIC

The principle of FPIC is rooted in a recognition of the rights of indigenous and local communities over their land and natural resources. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has established Principles and Criteria related to FPIC that include: a commitment to transparency; compliance with applicable laws and regulations; responsible consideration of communities and individuals affected by growers and millers; and responsible development of new planting.

As a palm oil major that has attained 100% RSPO certification, Musim Mas’ operations are centered around these principles. The group joins other businesses and NGOs who wish to have positive social and environmental impacts. Therefore, prior to any proposed planting, Musim Mas identifies legal, customary, and other rights, engages landowners, discuss the proposal in detail, then awaits their decision. The entire process is non-coercive and backed by two-way communication, disclosure of full information, and grievance mechanisms that are in place.

Indigenous peoples could help prevent climate change

Indigenous communities may also be able to play a pivotal role preventing climate change. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) 2022 report stressed the importance of securing the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). It suggested that doing so enables these communities to sustainably live off their lands while encouraging sustainable farming and forestry, supporting biodiversity conservation, and thereby playing a positive role towards preventing climate change2.

The way forward

When it comes to responsibly sourced palm oil, Musim Mas is helping to pave a socially just way forward. To support its actions and truly protect the millions of indigenous peoples, it’s necessary that there’s consultation between governments, indigenous peoples, and companies. Efforts would be further supported by a transparent central land database—particularly one that recognizes Indigenous territories.

Until then, Musim Mas will continue its efforts to improve the lives of the smallholders, workers, and Indigenous communities involved in its operations.