In 2010, the Government of Liberia awarded GVL a 65-year concession to develop 220,000 ha of land situated in five Counties in South Eastern Liberia, one of the poorest and most inaccessible parts of the Country. The five Counties are Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland, River Gee and River Cess.
GVL is one of the largest-ever foreign investors in Liberia and aim to play a key role in its economic revitalization. In everything it does, GVL strives to set the highest standards of performance. To date 18,000 ha has been planted oil palm in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties.
The role of the Sustainability Department is to provide leadership in the development, implementation, promotion and monitoring of strategies for the company’s commitment to environmental, social, labour and business best practices. This is to ensure that the company fulfils its commitment to a responsible and resilient oil palm development. Activities of the department include participating in the management of conservation areas in the concession areas (e.g. forest and HCV-HCS areas); engaging with stakeholders (e.g. communities, CSOs, government); supporting host local communities and the general public (e.g. through employment and community development programs); monitoring and ensuring compliance with legal, environmental, labour, and other requirements from local to international levels.
In 2018, GVL hired two additional experts to strengthen its Sustainability Department, as part of its strategy to strengthen the company’s sustainability efforts. This followed the company’s new Sustainability Action (SAP), which was announced in July 2018 after the company initiated moves to voluntarily suspend its membership of the RSPO to allow the company focus on strengthening on its sustainability processes and practices with a comprehensive action plan.
Since their arrival, the two new sustainability experts have been leading the Implementation of the SAP, restructuring and strengthening the capacity of the sustainability department and improving the overall work output. This is to ensure that the company sustainability journey is achieved on time.
The GVL Sustainability Department plays a leading role in the development and promotion of sustainable practices in the palm oil sector in Liberia. The Department has been working with local communities in Sinoe and Grand Kru to ensure that every community realizes its potential to participate and benefit from the company’s oil palm development and investment on the basis of Free, Prior, Informed Consent process ( FPIC) process. The FPIC process ensures that the company’s development activities and engagement with the communities respects the traditions of the communities, and their right to say yes or no to any activity of the company that relates to them on the basics of a clear understanding of the implication and impact of such activities.
GVL is also working with right-based NGOs and CSOs in Liberia in the implementation of its Sustainability Action Plan. Earthworm Foundation (EF),formerly TFT is providing support to GVL in an 18 months partnership to ensure the successful implementation of the action plan.
The Sustainability Department is also working with the National Bureau of Concession (NBC) to promote collaboration between the company and host communities. This effort includes a review and tracking of MOU commitment by both the company and communities, and inclusion of community based organizations (CBOs) in the commitment monitoring process. In this regard, the NBC has established the United Communities Initiative (UCI) and the Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) to operate at the community and county levels, respectively.
Citizens of affected communities in the company’s concession areas comprising of youth, women, chiefs, and representatives of Civil Society Organizations have also established the Concession Communities Development and Advocacy Committee (CoCoDAC) to help promote, maintain and enhance peace in their communities and the county at large.
GVL acknowledges that the journey to achieve sustainability is not something it can undertake on its own. Therefore the company is actively engaged with all its Stakeholders in order to achieve its targets for sustainable development in Liberia.