Golden Veroluem Liberia (GVL) today announced a new sustainability action plan aimed at reviewing the company’s sustainability journey and addressing ongoing criticism of the company’s performance especially in relation to community engagement.
Recently appointed CEO, Mr Patrice Lobet, unveiled the new action plan at the same time as the company announced its voluntary withdrawal from membership of the RSPO.
Mr Lobet said: “GVL has made the difficult but necessary decision to withdraw, voluntarily, from the RSPO to allow us to do the necessary work in rebuilding community confidence, and trust in our sustainability efforts in a time and manner that best suits the working reality of Liberia. This decision in no way represents a weakening of GVL’s commitment to sustainable palm oil production.”
“Having reviewed our operations closely and engaged in the RSPO processes over the last two months I believe that GVL can best honour the spirit of the RSPO P&C’s by stepping out at this time to refresh personnel and systems that will enable the company to better deliver on its sustainability commitments and its promises to the communities in which we work.”
GVL’s action plan encompasses both social and environmental components, is timebound and will be supported by expert implementation partners including The Forest Trust.
The action plan, expected to take 12-18 months for full implementation, will include:
Focus on community engagement and the implementation of FPIC processes with a view to finalise Memorandums of Understanding with communities in disputed areas, specifically in Sinoe County;
Reassessment of High Carbon Stock (HCS) forest areas in light of allegations of forest clearing and submission of those assessments to HCSA for review;
Gap analysis of current practice against the GAR Social and Environmental Policy, RSPO P&Cs and HCSA requirements – all are part of GVL’s current sustainability policies and commitments and the focus will be consistency and adequacy of implementation.
A stop work order will be implemented in Sinoe County while the assessments are being undertaken. Work will continue as normal in Grand Kru.
GVL’s major investor is Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) and the company is required to meet the GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP). Speaking for GAR, MD for Sustainability and Strategic Stakeholder Engagement, Mr Agus Purnomo said: “GAR supports this decision by GVL and urges management to take all necessary steps to implement the action plan and demonstrate compliance with the GSEP.”
GAR will provide technical assistance to support this effort through a technical services agreement to allow for an exchange of expertise to assist in delivery of the action plan.