Golden Veroleum Liberia Still Committed To ‘No Deforestation’ And Local Empowerment —–ITAR’s Investigation Discloses By Inquirer Newspaper Last updated Mar 15, 2023 12

A thorough on-the-ground investigation conducted in the concession areas of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) Inc., by the Institute for Transparency and Accountability International (ITAR) has established that the oil palm company is still very committed to no deforestation as engraved in its policies.

ITAR’s Country Director Amos B. S. Kanneh said that they have found out that GVL is also helping to empower women to become self-sustenance through employment opportunities.

According to this integrity institution, following local media reports that alleged that GVL wasn’t committed to ‘no deforestation,’ because of Golden Agri-Resources (GAR)’s alleged exit from the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA), which ITAR said is yet to verify, they sent a five-man team to Sinoe to ascertain the facts and other reports of alleged rights abuses.

ITAR in its release issued on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, following its fact-finding team’s return to Monrovia from Sinoe County where GVL has most of its huge investments, said that it has no evidence of GAR’s alleged decision that the oil palm giant has changed or reduced its commitment to upholding its part of the bargain on ‘No Deforestation’.

“While some of the locals presented to us some economic challenges that are un-related to their work with GVL, most overwhelmingly praised the company for providing employment opportunities for them and their spouses,” ITAR intimated.

According to ITAR, the women were the ones who really thanked GVL for helping to make them self-empowered and that they are capable of handling their own finances and sending their children to school and even praised the company for the smooth working environment.

“During our two-day tour of the GVL’s concessional areas, we found out among other things that GVL has already put into place measures that are intended to address social grievances, arising from the communities within and surrounding GVL’s concessional areas,” Mr. Kanneh, ITAR’s Country Director asserted.

“An official of GVL, who is not clothed with the authority to speak to us, told us that the company has already taken key steps to remediate and mitigate the HCS clearance and Social Grievances, in line with the time-bound action plan submitted to the HCSA. Regular reviews are ongoing to ensure that GAR has full visibility of the situation in GVL, in line with the investor’s requirement that all direct and indirect partners adhere to GAR’s sustainability standards,” the release stated.

He further informed us that for HCS, an independent party – Earthworm Foundation (EF) – has done a complete HCV/HCS assessment for all GVL MOU areas; and that the reports were submitted to the HCSA in 2022, a copy of which report is in our possession.

“A remediation and compensation plan has been drafted and ground surveys done by another third party – ProForest – to select sites for HCS compensation and remediation aligned to the Liberia Forest Sector Program.  GVL management has accepted ProForest’s recommendations and we expect the plan to be implemented beginning June 2023, once consultations with stakeholders, including communities and government authorities, are completed,” ITAR’s release quotes the GVL official.

According to ITAR, one thing that stood up during their fact-finding is that investors should be given the chance to exercise and implement all the full terms of their Concessional Agreements (CA) so that everyone, including the locals, local authorities and state, can all get the full shares from the concession.

ITAR concluded its release by commending the Management of GVL for being proactive in wisely handling all situations that arise from the communities, and wants GVL Management to remain focused in making sure that transparency and accountability in its operations remain paramount.