The celebration of Earth Day this month provides the opportunity to reflect on the overlap between labor rights and the environment. Verité has found a strong correlation between labor abuses and environmental damages. Often, activities that violate environmental regulations take place in areas where the government lacks the capacity to adequately enforce the law. Verité’s research into palm oil and illegal gold mining, for example, has found that the absence of the rule of law at remote worksites can result in permanent ecosystem damage, dangerous working conditions, and risk of forced labor.
In the coming weeks, Verité experts Daryll Delgado, Philip Hunter, and Melizel Asuncion will be panelists at various events across Asia focusing on palm oil and other global supply chain issues.
Palm oil has been in the news a lot lately, but the news hasn’t been good. From forest fires across Indonesia used to make way for new plantations to human and labor rights abuses, media scrutiny has uncovered the often troubling conditions associated with this almost ubiquitous oil. It has also uncovered worrying weaknesses in the voluntary mechanisms set up to promote palm oil sustainability. Add this to existing regulatory and enforcement gaps in countries where palm oil is often produced, and it is clear that these are troubling times for workers across the industry. But the news isn’t all bleak.
Earlier this month, Verité proudly supported the launch of a new resource to promote free and fair labor in palm oil production—“Free and Fair Labor in Palm Oil Production: Principles and Implementation Guidance.” This resource, endorsed by more than 20 organizations from around the world, represents a major step forward in protecting the rights of workers in the industry and advancing global dialogue on sustainable palm oil.
Today (March 31, 2014), Verité releases an in-depth case study of the risk of human and labor rights abuses in the production of palm oil in Guatemala. This report is the outcome of weeks of on-the-ground field research and expert consultation led by Research Program Manager Quinn Kepes.