Indigenous peoples

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Biofuels > Impacts > Indigenous peoples

Traditional dance in northeastern Madagascar.

This page provides information about biofuels and impacts on indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples, like other local communities, may be impacted by biofuels, especially as a result of changes in land-use due to the development of large, commercial-scale biofuel feedstock production plantations. Examples of this that have been cited include plantations of palm oil.





  • Malaysian palm oil giant in fight with forest people gets rebuke from RSPO, 6 April 2011 by "RSPO said IOI Corp breached 'two core membership mandates and obligations' on land conflict and conversion of high conservation forest into oil palm plantations. IOI Corp will have 28 days to deliver a proposal to resolve the outstanding issues."
    • "Should it fail to do so by May 2, 2011, RSPO told IOI it will consider 'further sanctions against your company, which may include the suspension of your license for new transactions involving Certified Sustainable Palm Oil materials including GreenPalm certificates.'"
    • "Such a move could cost IOI dearly in the marketplace. In 2009 and 2010, PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (PT SMART), an Indonesian subsidiary of Golden Agri Resources, lost a number of major customers after it was found to be clearing carbon-dense peatlands and rainforests in Indonesian Borneo."
    • "The rebuke from RSPO comes just days after the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) highlighted the struggle between the people of Long Teran Kenan and IOI over two plantations on native lands in Baram, Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo."[1]
  • Indigenous community takes court ruling into own hands and seizes oil palm plantation, 31 March 2011 by "A community in Malaysian Borneo seized an oil palm plantation belonging to the IOI Group after the palm oil giant failed to respect the terms of a court ruling that the plantation was established on native customary land, reports the Rainforest Action Network (RAN)."
    • "Earlier this month, the people of Long Teran Kenan blocked the road and occupied the plantation. They have since started harvesting and selling the fruit to a nearby palm oil mill."
    • "RAN is highlighting the situation because IOI supplies palm oil to Cargill, America's largest palm oil importer. RAN says Cargill has failed to enact policies that protect against such abuses."
    • "IOI said the High Court of Sarawak did not grant 'the natives' the right to reclaim the contested land and added that the natives' customary rights on the land "can be extinguished by paying compensation." IOI further stated that the court 'did not grant any injunctions sought by the natives restraining IOI Pelita from remaining and continuing its operations on the lands.' Therefore IOI believes the actions by the people of Long Teran Kenan are 'illegal.'"[2]


  • The Scientists' Letter on the Copenhagen Commitment for Tropical Forests, April 2010 by the Union of Concerned Scientists on behalf of over 200 scientists: "The Scientists' Letter on the Copenhagen Commitment for Tropical Forests is a letter asking members of Congress to keep the commitment made by the United States in Copenhagen on December 16, 2009. There the United States promised $1 billion over 3 years for tropical forest conservation."
    • "Tropical forests contain half of all carbon stored in terrestrial vegetation, and clearing and degradation of tropical forests constitutes about 15% of all anthropogenic carbon emissions. REDD+ [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest degradation in Developing countries] can greatly strengthen measures to reduce carbon emissions, protect biodiversity, and provide other human benefits."
    • "REDD+ is an inexpensive solution relative to alternatives such as industrial energy efficiency or solar or nuclear power and an immediate solution too — $20 billion could cut emissions by half a billion tons and do so by 2020."
  • Borneo mega-dams proposal raises fears for tribes, wildlife, 2 January 2010 by The Independent: "A massive tract of Borneo jungle, an area the size of Singapore, will soon disappear under the waters of the Bakun dam, a multi-billion-dollar project nearing completion after years of controversy."
    • "...a notice extinguishing the rights of the Murum people over the affected land has already been issued, and construction has begun, but so far there is no formal relocation proposal or offer of compensation."


  • Standards proposed for REDD-plus, 12 October 2009 by carbonpositive: The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) and CARE have produced the 'REDD+ SE' standard, "a qualitative approach setting out the basic principles a REDD programme would need to follow to ensure people’s rights and environmental impacts are properly recognised and accounted for. The eight principles, and criteria for the minimum requirements in meeting them, were identified in a series of stakeholder consultations run by CCBAand CARE this year." [4]
  • (Palm Oil:) How the World Bank Let 'Deal Making' Torch the Rainforests, 19 August 2009 by Climate Wire / New York Times: "The World Bank ignored its own environmental and social protection standards when it approved nearly $200 million in loan guarantees for palm oil production in Indonesia, a stinging internal audit has found."
    • "Specifically, auditors said, when loaning to Wilmar International Ltd. and other firms between 2003 and 2008, the IFC did not check out concerns about the companies' supply chain plantations. The Forest Peoples Programme, a U.K.-based nonprofit group that originally brought the complaint, charged that the companies illegally used fire to clear forestland, cleared primary forests, and seized lands belonging to indigenous people without due process."[6]
  • Small-scale biofuels production holds more promise, says USAID, 21 June 2009 by BusinessMirror: "Decentralized biofuel production, or small-scale factories built on degraded or underused lands, has the potential to provide energy to half a billion people living in poverty in rural Asia."
    • " The report, Biofuels in Asia: An Analysis of Sustainability Options…focused on China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It analyzed key trends and concerns and highlighted sustainability options for biofuel production."
    • "Compared with large-scale biofuels production, small-scale biofuels production for local use may deliver greater social benefits, including improvement of rural livelihoods, support of local industries, and a lower tendency toward exploitation of workers and co-opting of land from indigenous peoples."

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