This year’s World Environment Day (WED) falls on the 5th of June. WED is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.
Each WED is organised around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The slogan this year is ‘Go Wild for Life’ and calls for zero tolerance towards the killing and smuggling of wildlife across the world.
As a responsible agribusiness operating near some of the world’s most important areas for biodiversity and wildlife, GAR strictly practices zero tolerance with regards to the hunting, injury, possession, and killing of rare and endangered species within its plantations. This is a core tenet embedded in the GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP) and is just one of the many commitments that GAR has made towards responsible and sustainable palm oil production.
What is the GSEP?
In 2011, GAR led the way for the palm oil industry by being the first palm oil company to adopt a Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). This policy set out our commitment towards producing palm oil responsibly and sustainably. In 2012, we adopted the Social and Community Engagement Policy (SCEP) and the Yield Improvement Policy (YIP) which together with the FCP form the core sustainability principles adopted by GAR.
In 2015, we integrated all our sustainability policies into one document – the GSEP. To ensure that our operations are delinked from deforestation, traceable, and brings benefits to the communities where we operate we focus on four main areas:
GAR is firmly committed to responsible stewardship of the environment. We believe that environmental conservation and protection can go hand-in-hand with economic growth and development.
Under the GSEP, GAR is committed to no development of and the conservation of High Carbon Stock forests and High Conservation Value areas (this includes zero tolerance towards the hunting, killing, and poaching of rare and endangered wildlife); no development on peatlands of any depth; Zero Burning Policy; continuous yield improvement to reduce pressure on new land development; reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and improving waste management.
GAR WAS THE FIRST PALM OIL COMPANY TO ADOPT A FOREST CONSERVATION POLICY IN 2011
GAR is the largest palm oil grower in Indonesia with almost 500,000 hectares of concession and one of our key stakeholder groups are the local communities in our plantation areas.
We are committed to respecting the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent for indigenous peoples and local communities which include responsible handling of complaints and grievances and responsible resolution of conflicts.
Additionally, we are focused on positive economic, social, and community development and empowering people through community development programmes. We actively work with local communities to ensure that their food security needs are met when planning new palm oil development.
Our employees are another key group of stakeholders and GAR is committed to recognising, respecting, and strengthening the rights of all our workers. The GSEP sets out our commitments in this area which includes ethical recruitment practices and the prohibition of child labour.
The GSEP applies to all our subsidiaries and suppliers. Our suppliers are key partners and we aim to bring them with us on our sustainability journey. This is how we will be able to spread sustainable practices and ultimately improve the palm oil industry.
We are committed to having traceable and transparent supply chains, and will offer support to suppliers, including independent smallholders, to adopt responsible social and environmental practices. At the same time, we have set up a grievance procedure for stakeholders to raise any concerns about our supply chain. The grievance list can be found on the GAR Sustainability Dashboard.
Implementing the GSEP
As one of the first palm oil companies to adopt a sustainability policy, we know from experience that embedding sustainability in our operations requires continuous, sustained effort and adequate resource allocation.
To ensure that the GSEP is properly implemented, we have invested additional resources and boosted the capacity of the Sustainability Department. Currently, there is about 130 personnel in the Jakarta Head Office overseeing various aspects of GSEP implementation, plus another 190 employees on the ground in our plantations.
The GSEP is fully supported by our top management. A Sustainability Committee chaired by Executive Director Jesslyne Widjaja, meets regularly to oversee and monitor the implementation of the GSEP. The committee reports to the Chairman.
Another crucial element in ensuring proper implementation involves training our employees to understand what the GSEP is about. To date, 1,700 personnel have received GSEP training and this will be an ongoing activity.
We report our implementation progress every quarter and you will be able to find these reports on the GAR Sustainability Dashboard. GAR also publishes regular Sustainability Reports based on guidelines by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).