Harmful Social and Environmental Impacts of Liberia Palm Oil Project Exposed
It is now four years since Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Incorporated (“GVL”) concluded an agricultural concession agreement with the Government of Liberia, leasing approximately 2.3 per cent of Liberia’s entire land area for an extendable period of sixty-five years for the production of palm oil from land in five of Liberia’s south-eastern counties. Despite the terms of GVL’s lease, under which the government purport to provide GVL with land free of encumbrance, much of the land, forests and wetlands it concerns have been occupied, used and owned by rural communities for many generations, providing ample scope for the GVL project being in conflict with both communities and their forests.
This review concludes that the both companies are still manifestly failing to comply with many relevant Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (“RSPO”), legal and other best practice standards. Most worrying of all is the picture that emerges of companies whose current business model fundamentally undermines any prospect of their project’s community engagement achieving FPIC compliance. Only through equally fundamental change will GVL and GAR be able to move meaningfully towards compliance and rectify past mistakes. Unless that happens, the social, environmental and economic viability of the project will continue to be in jeopardy.