KUALA LUMPUR and PARIS, 14th March 2023 – In collaboration with the Malaysian Ministry of Plantation and Commodities, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Human Rights Coalition (HRC) today hosted a practical workshop for Malaysian palm oil companies on best practices for implementing a pragmatic business approach to human rights due diligence (HRDD). The workshop was the first held in a learning series hosted by the HRC’s People Positive Palm Project (P3 Project), jointly implemented by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the International Organization for Migration, which aims to leverage collective action and eradicate forced labour from the Malaysian palm oil industry.

The workshop was opened by YAB Dato’ Sri Haji Fadillah Yusof, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, and Minister of Plantation and Commodities. In his remarks, he expressed support for the P3 Project as a key initiative for driving business innovation in Malaysia by helping suppliers to enhance their productivity and resilience in the face of global challenges, secure product exportability, and increase attractiveness for investors. By increasing Workers’ wellbeing, the Malaysian palm industry can lead a regional and sectoral transformation towards people positive business practices, ultimately making Malaysia a trendsetter on practical and effective approaches to HRDD. He also highlighted the need for continued private-public sector collaboration to address the systemic challenges facing the industry. 

CGF Director of Sustainability Didier Bergeret speaks with YAB Dato’ Sri Haji Fadillah Yusof, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, and Minister of Plantation and Commodities, during the People Positive Palm Project human rights due diligence workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 14th March 2023.

Thirty-five organisations attended the event, including HRC members, palm suppliers, government groups, and local civil society organisations. Throughout the day, representatives from FLA facilitated dialogues among companies on the role of due diligence in identifying, addressing, and preventing forced labour risks, how it can be implemented in practice, and the impact of mandatory due diligence legislation on business practices. Companies emphasized the importance of proactivity in adopting responsible recruitment practices in order to build a more resilient industry in times of many sustainability challenges and regulatory changes. They also focused on the ethical recruitment and employment of migrant Workers, which make up 70 percent of the sector’s workforce. After technical discussions on how to implement the six steps of HRDD, the workshop concluded with companies agreeing to continue taking a collective approach to eliminating forced labour in order to effectively address its systemic roots.

Launched in 2022, the P3 Project fosters collective action and advocacy to address root causes of forced labour in a sustainable and structural manner. Its scope focuses on the Malaysian palm oil sector given the progress many suppliers have made in the sustainability field, making Malaysia an opportune environment to test strong due diligence practices and set an example for other countries and commodity sectors.

Through its learning series, the project seeks to support palm oil suppliers to develop necessary management systems for addressing forced labour and align their practices with current and upcoming legal requirements on HRDD, including Malaysia’s National Action Plan on Forced Labour. The workshop will be followed by a roundtable dialogue between business, civil society, and government actors on responsible recruitment, set to be hosted in spring 2023 in Kuala Lumpur.

The project also builds on the CGF’s history of work addressing forced labour related to palm oil production, including a groundbreaking report on forced labour risks in the Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil sectors issued by the CGF and FLA in 2018. 

Didier Bergeret, Director of Sustainability, The Consumer Goods Forum, said, “We are pleased to see our People Positive Palm Project launch its first learning series workshop with the support of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Ministry of Plantation and Commodities, and some of the largest palm oil producers in Malaysia. In bringing these key actors together with our members, we are building an effective coalition of leaders who will be able to drive the action needed to transform the Malaysian palm industry and ensure human rights are protected, respected, and remedied throughout the value chain.”

Paul Lalli, Global VP, Human Rights, The Coca-Cola Company, and HRC Co-chair, said, “I believe today’s workshop, supported by The Consumer Goods Forum’s Human Rights Coalition, will support the critical human rights journey of palm oil suppliers in Malaysia, whose engagement is essential to ensure respect for the rights of vulnerable workers in many of our members’ supply chains. Through these trainings, our goal is to build know-how and a commitment to drive changes in mindsets and practices in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of workers and their communities.”

Sharon Waxman, President and CEO, Fair Labor Association, said, “The Fair Labor Association welcomes the opportunity to organize this workshop with the Ministry of Plantation and Commodities as part of the People Positive Palm Project. We hope the workshop will facilitate the implementation of Malaysia’s National Action Plan on Forced Labor and lay a strong foundation for a mandatory human rights due diligence framework that will benefit palm suppliers, including small-holders.”

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About the Human Rights Coalition

The Human Rights Coalition is the leading collective of consumer goods companies strengthening due diligence throughout their business practices to ensure Workers’ rights are protected, respected, and remedied at every step of the value chain. As a CEO-led initiative hosted by The Consumer Goods Forum, the only organisation to convene manufacturers and retailers globally, the HRC supports companies to effectively address salient human rights impacts, notably around forced labour, in their business practices through aligned, accelerated action driven at the highest levels of leadership.  The work of the HRC continues the CGF’s long history of engagement on the issue of forced labour within consumer goods supply chains by building on the CGF’s Social Resolution on Forced Labour, the first of its kind in the industry; its Priority Industry Principles; and ongoing relationships with key stakeholders in the industry. To learn more about the Human Rights Coalition, visit www.tcgfsocial.com. 

About The Consumer Goods Forum 

The Consumer Goods Forum (“CGF”) is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 3.5 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises more than 55 manufacturer and retailer CEOs. For more information, please visit: www.theconsumergoodsforum.com

For additional information, please contact: 

Didier Bergeret
Director, Sustainability
The Consumer Goods Forum 
Social Sustainability (Human Rights)

Madelaine VanDerHeyden
Manager, Communications
The Consumer Goods Forum 

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