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Wilmar International grabs Kapa and Sasak customary lands in West Sumatra, Indonesia

Wilmar International has violated the rights of Kapa and Sasak people for years. After protests buy the Kapa and Sasak, the RSPO ruled in favour of a complaint filed against Wilmar. It remains to be seen if RSPO sticks to its ruling.


In being responsible for 45% of the global trade in palm oil, Wilmar International is the biggest trader worldwide. In 2013, it announced a sustainability policy involving a zero tolerance of deforestation and peat land exploitation, with which all its subsidiaries and suppliers must comply. Further, company received the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RPSO) certification for sustainable production in 2005.  

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Wilmar International grabs Kapa and Sasak customary lands in West Sumatra, Indonesia
State or province: West Sumatra
Location of conflict:Luhak Nan Duo and Pasaman Barat District
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

PT PHP1 has a production capacity of 135,250 tonnes of Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB), 28,600 tonnes of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) a year and 6,900 tonnes of Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) each year. 25% of the CPO production by the company is sold domestically while 75% goes to the international market.

Project area:1,600 ha
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:31940
Start of the conflict:1997
Company names or state enterprises:PT Permata Hijau Pasaman 1 (subsidiary of Wilmar International Ltd) (PT PHP1) from Singapore
Relevant government actors:BPN (The Indonesian National Land Agency)
Local government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Forest Peoples Program (FPP)
Perkumpulan untuk Pembaharuan Hukum Berbasis Masyarakat dan Ekologis (HuMa)
Forest Peoples Programme, Sawit Watch, TuK Indonesia, Association KANI, HuMa, ADEV, Rights + Resources, Lembaga Gemawan, Ford Foundation, JOAS, Climate and Land Use Alliance, IDEAL, Green Advocates Liberia, WALHI, Setara Jambi, RELUFA, Centre Pour l’Environnement et le Développement, Indigenous Peoples’ Foundation for Education and Environment, AnthroWatch and PUSAKA,
Conflict & Mobilization
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
complaint letter to the RSPO
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Displacement, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Under negotiation
RSPO implementation
Development of alternatives:The community itself wishes to company to find an “alternative way of renting or leasing land from then other than with an Hak Guna Usaha (HGU) – a commercial land lease ” (Mongabay 2017).
A joint report by social organizations recommends that the company informs the community of the meaning of its rights to manage the land, as well as the meaning of the RSPO certification, engage the whole community in decision-making and plantation development and manages the current legal shortcomings, as well as it develops a community-company conflict resolution mechanism (Colchester & Chao, 2013).
On part of the district government, the report recommends a legal review of the company operations, develop a mechanism that allows communities to lease their lands to companies that guarantees their national and international rights.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The conflict is still ongoing and it is unclear whether the RPSO will go ahead with its 2017 ruling, and if so, what that would imply.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] McCarthy, J. F., & Robinson, K. (Eds.). (2016). Land and Development in Indonesia: Searching for the People's Sovereignty. ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] Mongabay, 2017. Wilmar grabbed indigenous lands in Sumatra, RSPO finds
[click to view]

[8] RSPO, 2017. Complaint Case lodged by Forest People Programme and Community of Nagari Kapa against PT Permata Hijau Pasaman I. RSPO: Singapore
[click to view]

[1] Colchester & Chao, 2013. Conflict or consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads.
[click to view]

[5] Eco-Business, 2017. RSPO rules on community complaint against Wilmar unit
[click to view]

[7] Wilmar International Limited, 2015. Wilmar Categorically Refutes Allegations by Forest Peoples Programme
[click to view]

Mongabay, 2017. Wilmar grabbed indigenous lands in Sumatra, RSPO finds
[click to view]

Eco-Business, 2015. Mounting complaints put Wilmar under scrutiny
[click to view]

[10] Mongabay, 2017. Wilmar appeals RSPO ruling that it grabbed indigenous lands in Sumatra
[click to view]

[6] FPP, 2015. Criminalization of Complaints to RSPO Complaints Panel
[click to view]

FPP, 2015. Criminalization of Complaints to RSPO Complaints Panel
[click to view]

[4] RSPO, 2015. Preliminary decision
[click to view]

[click to view]

(11) Wilmar International (2017). Wilmar's Response to Rain Forest Action Network's Report
[click to view]

FPP, 2017. PRESS: Wilmar has violated the rights of the Kapa indigenous community of West Sumatra, concludes RSPO
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Emmy Iwarsson (ICTA-UAB)
Last update02/04/2018
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