Nestlé: Indonesian president praises Greenpeace for criticising forest policy

Posted by jamie - 9 April 2010 at 1:54pm - Comments

Greenpeace volunteers monkey around outside Nestlé's headquarters in Jakarta © Abyan/Greenpeace

It's three weeks since we launched our Nestlé campaign and, thanks to the fantastic support we've received, it's going from strength to strength. Nestlé's Facebook page is still dominated by questions about where the company gets its palm oil from. It seems that every attempt by their admins to change topic is another opportunity to turn the conversation back to deforestation linked to palm oil and other ethically questionable practices. Meanwhile, our our Kit Kat video has sailed past an incredible 1.1m views.

But what's going on in Indonesia? After all, that's where the forests we're trying to protect are located. Well, the work our Indonesian team are doing is somewhat different. Rather than focusing mainly on a large consumer company, they're tackling suppliers directly, and challenging the government of Indonesia about deforestation.

The email updates coming from our colleagues in Jakarta show that we're having an effect in political circles.

The president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has been talking a lot about forests this week. He talked tough about the "mafia in illegal logging", and commissioned a taskforce to investigate the corruption which is endemic in the industry, and which contributes to the clearance of rainforest to make way for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations.

Personally, I was surprised to read that he's also been specifically praising Greenpeace and other pressure groups for criticizing the government's policy on forest management. In a special press conference earlier this week, he also asked for more cooperation between government and organisations like Greenpeace to help protect Indonesia's environment.

Just after the president's statement, our Indonesian team received a request for a meeting with his adviser, where they explained to him how the president should tackle deforestation: with a moratorium on converting the forest into agricultural land, as well as protecting Indonesia's peatlands.

Well, words don't always translate into action, and Yudhoyono is known for making impressive environmental statements but not following through on his promises. Still, he has pledged to reduce Indonesia's emissions (third largest in the world) by 26 per cent by 2020. As a large proportion of those emissions come from deforestation, reaching that target inevitably means getting serious with the loggers and the agriculture giants who are tearing down forests and burning peatlands.

There's also been a spectrum of reaction from other Indonesian ministers. The agriculture minister said he will work with the palm oil industry to clear its name, and is planning a lobbying tour of Europe to promote Indonesian palm oil. The trade minister has called for an independent investigation into our claims, which is nice. Equally nice to hear the environment minister agreeing that Nestlé had every right to cancel their contracts with Sinar Mas; apparently he would have done the same as well.

Speaking of Sinar Mas, that giant in Indonesia's agriculture sector and rampant destroyer of forests: the company has issued a press release (pdf) announcing it will commission its own independent investigation into our report. Call me cynical, but I don't think I'll be the only one questioning exactly how independent this investigation will be. To me, it sounds like a delaying tactic to draw attention away from the many laws Sinar Mas is currently violating.

And back on this side of the equator, we still need you to email or call Nestlé - they're no doubt waiting to hear from you.

i support greenpeace

I received this back after I emailed them using their web form on the Nestle site and had this response:

Dear Mr Cole

Thank you very much for your email.

We can assure you that Nestlé UK does not buy palm oil from the Sinar Mas Group for any of our products, including Kit Kat.

We do purchase palm oil from Cargill and we have sought assurances from them about their supply chain as a percentage of their supply is from Sinar Mas. Cargill has informed us that Sinar Mas needs to answer Greenpeace’s allegations by the end of April and they have indicated that they will delist Sinar Mas if they do not take corrective action by then.

Nestlé recently undertook a detailed review of its supply chain to establish the source of its palm oil supplies and we have made a commitment to using only "Certified Sustainable Palm Oil" by 2015, when sufficient quantities should be available.

As an important step on that journey, a number of Nestlé markets, including Nestlé UK, have already purchased Green Palm certificates, the certificate trading programme designed to help suppliers tackle the environmental and social problems created by the production of palm oil.

Thank you again for taking the trouble to contact us. We are grateful for the interest you have shown in our company.

Yours sincerely

Paul Jones
Consumer Relations Executive
Consumer Services

One of the best campaign idea/slogan I have ever seen, straight to the point, an out and out winner, well done to all concerned

@the1paulcole: I think everyone who's been emailing and phoning Nestle has received the same response. It's pretty much the same thing they've been saying for two years since we first contacted them about palm oil - they've been 'concerned' all this time but haven't done anything of substance. Thanks for taking the time to email though!

web editor
gpuk

i support greenpeace

I received this back after I emailed them using their web form on the Nestle site and had this response: Dear Mr Cole Thank you very much for your email. We can assure you that Nestlé UK does not buy palm oil from the Sinar Mas Group for any of our products, including Kit Kat. We do purchase palm oil from Cargill and we have sought assurances from them about their supply chain as a percentage of their supply is from Sinar Mas. Cargill has informed us that Sinar Mas needs to answer Greenpeace’s allegations by the end of April and they have indicated that they will delist Sinar Mas if they do not take corrective action by then. Nestlé recently undertook a detailed review of its supply chain to establish the source of its palm oil supplies and we have made a commitment to using only "Certified Sustainable Palm Oil" by 2015, when sufficient quantities should be available. As an important step on that journey, a number of Nestlé markets, including Nestlé UK, have already purchased Green Palm certificates, the certificate trading programme designed to help suppliers tackle the environmental and social problems created by the production of palm oil. Thank you again for taking the trouble to contact us. We are grateful for the interest you have shown in our company. Yours sincerely Paul Jones Consumer Relations Executive Consumer Services

One of the best campaign idea/slogan I have ever seen, straight to the point, an out and out winner, well done to all concerned

@the1paulcole: I think everyone who's been emailing and phoning Nestle has received the same response. It's pretty much the same thing they've been saying for two years since we first contacted them about palm oil - they've been 'concerned' all this time but haven't done anything of substance. Thanks for taking the time to email though! web editor gpuk

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