Friends of the Earth Netherlands launched a report where they warn that Dutch Banks ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank have to take responsibility for the disastrous environmental and social consequences of providing finance to the palm oil sector at large scale. These banks should pull out of this sector, demands the organization.
"What we wanted to show is that the commitments of Dutch banks to change the situation have failed (...). We see the same problems in the palm oil sector and that’s why we ask the Dutch banks to be more firm against those palm oil companies and to basically step out of the industrial scale palm oil sector", said environmental activist Rolf Schipper, forests campaign leader at Milieudefensie, Friends of the Earth Netherlands, in an interview with Real World Radio.
"Especially the Rabobank is one of the biggest international banks in the field of agribusiness. If they decide to step out of this palm oil sector they really make a big statement to the financial world. And that’s why we are targeting them specially", added the activist.
The new report, launched on July 2nd, is titled “Draw The Line: A black book about the shady investments of Dutch Banks into palm oil”.
Friends of the Earth International has repeatedly denounced that the installation of large palm oil monoculture plantations, in Asian countries, for instance, has led to land grabbing processes, displacement of local communities, destruction of their livelihoods, and even human rights violations.
Schipper explained that in the past 20 years there have been huge investments into industrial palm oil development, and made reference to companies such as Wilmar and Bumitama, which are extending plantations into the rainforest. This happens in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, and is now also spreading to Africa and Latin America, he said.
"We, as Friends of the Earth Netherlands, don’t believe in a future for large industrial scale palm oil, because it is harmful for the environment and it’s harmful for the people who live in those areas". "We want to explain to the banks that their sustainability policies have not worked. And if they don’t work, they are only upholding the sector. They need to step out", Schipper stated.
Also on July 2nd, the organization launched another report titled: “High Risk in the Rainforest”, together with the Sustainable Development Institute – Friends of the Earth Liberia and Friends of the Earth US. We also asked Schipper about this work, which highlights the bad operations of oil palm company Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL), member of giant Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), which is looking to expand its operations in Africa.
In January, the European Parliament voted to ban the use of palm oil for agrofuel production and to freeze the market for other agricultural commoditities with the same end. Back then, as reported by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, 46 per cent of palm oil imports in Europe was used for agrofuel production. Real World Radio also asked Schipper about this issue.