The success of both our individual operations and business as a whole, is largely dependent on a lasting constructive relationship with our stakeholders, especially the local communities in all the areas where we operate. Open and transparent engagement with local communities shapes the stakeholders’ assessment of our performance as a responsible company.
It is essential to have an accurate understanding of our communities, their grievances, concerns, and expectations through active engagement and communication to minimize negative impacts and enhance positive outcomes. As articulated in our Sustainability Policy, we are committed to supporting a functional Grievance Mechanism, unbiased conflict resolution, and continuous engagement with both internal and external stakeholders. The following are the guiding principles of our local community engagement efforts:
We engage with local communities through stakeholder meetings, information sessions, dialogue, and public consultations when implementing CID programs, Responsible Development (RD) projects, or capacity building activities. These are carried out routinely and periodically with at least one stakeholder meeting per year, in each of our business units. Local community engagement activities provide updates on our projects, facilitate discussion of the CID initiatives and plasma program, and address community concerns and grievances, while giving the equal opportunity to all participants to clarify and answer questions on specific issues. Stakeholder meetings are typically attended by smallholder farmers, community members and leaders, representatives from the local government offices and agencies, as well as our personnel. We regularly update our stakeholder analysis based on these engagements.
Media is also an important stakeholder and we engage with them through regular meetings and invite them to visit our sites so they can see first hand how we manage our plantations. As our commitment to be transparent, we provide updates on a regular basis by sending press releases.
A Grievance Mechanism is in place in all our estates whereby local communities can raise concerns verbally to our staff, by e-mail, or by phone. Each grievance raised will generate an entry in the grievance log that can be tracked to verify claims, rectify issues, report verification results, list actions taken, monitor response delivery to the stakeholder, and monitor follow up actions. In accordance with our grievance procedure, every complaint must be followed up within 14 days of receipt.
Our grievance mechanism and resolution process are implemented according to SOPs that were reviewed and verified by an independent third party referring to aspects from the RSPO principles and criteria.
We respect local communities’ rights to land and understand that it is closely linked to their livelihood. Land acquisition is a critical factor when developing plantations that can sometimes lead to issues or conflicts with local communities with respect to village or property boundaries and land use. To ensure that our land acquisition process is carried out fairly and transparently, we have put procedures in place based on FPIC for acquiring new land. The procedure involves engagement with local communities and government to ensure clarity to all parties at the start of any development. This thorough process of engagement allows us to establish relationships with communities surrounding our operations and convey how our developments can help improve the local economy. Any individual or community with existing land use rights has the right to refuse to transfer their land use rights to the Company in return for the compensation offered. FPIC from affected local communities is strictly conditional for land acquisition and development activities to continue.
Our SOP for land acquisition and FPIC is part of the set of SOPs that have been reviewed an independent third-party to ensure that all our procedures and agreements have met RSPO requirements.