Five years ago, Wilmar International Limited (Wilmar) became a member of The Forest Trust (TFT), pledging to rid its supply chain of deforestation and exploitation. Leadership by the largest mover of palm oil in the industry was noticed and carried hope that the deep environmental and social issues present in the palm oil supply chain would finally have a chance to be solved.
In the first years of implementation, good progress was made. For example, during this time the company became the first trader to publicly disclose a full mill list through an online dashboard. In Malaysia, Wilmar led the way in giving back passports, and addressing the freedom of movement of migrant workers.
However, recently, progress has been slow. Also, many NGOs questioned the company on various aspects of its NDPE, such as workers’ rights and links to groups that are clearing forest. While the company agreed to look into addressing the issues pointed out by these NGOs, it did not proactively address the root causes.
Consequently, TFT challenged Wilmar’s membership with TFT and asked that it recommit to leadership in its NDPE journey, adopting a forward-thinking approach to change, like it did back in 2013. In TFT’s view, without a significant acceleration of the implementation of their NDPE, in particular in Indonesia, and a major shift in public transparency and stakeholder engagement, Wilmar will not be able live up to the commitment it made back in 2013.
Wilmar has now committed to a new openness and drive to radically review its NDPE implementation. As a result, Wilmar committed to release, by September 30th 2018, a new time-bound action plan that lays out a path to improve and accelerate progress, to take Wilmar back into a leadership position. Specifically, it will include but not be restricted to:
- Using a more comprehensive global monitoring and verification system to track the environmental and social performance of Wilmar’s supply chain and in particular to monitor supplier groups and their concessions.
- Full public, transparent disclosure of progress.
- Strengthened engagement with stakeholders, clients and social and environmental NGOs. Wilmar will also work with stakeholders to address priority grievance and issues flagged (e.g. supplier companies that are linked to deforestation).
- Acceleration of NDPE implementation across Wilmar’s suppliers around the world, with a specific focus on Indonesia.
“It’s our job to constantly push and challenge our members. In our view, until recently, Wilmar hadn’t been driving change in a strong enough way and this called their TFT membership into question. We want to see all our members as leaders, pushing to accelerate change and address the key pending issues across their industries,” Bastien Sachet, TFT’s CEO said. “We will work with Wilmar’s teams to redouble the company’s commitment to an ambitious action plan and we will closely monitor the company’s activity over the next three months to ensure there is real evidence of robust progress across their entire operation. We will keep all of our stakeholders updated on progress with this most important program.”