PARIS and KUALA LUMPUR, 20th October 2022 – The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Human Rights Coalition – Working to End Forced Labour (HRC) has launched its People Positive Palm Project, designed to drive collaboration between consumer goods companies and palm oil suppliers in Malaysia to address the issue of forced labour in the Malaysian palm oil sector. The project was launched during a series of meetings and workshops in Kuala Lumpur, where HRC members, 13 participating Malaysian palm oil suppliers and other stakeholders met to kickstart the project.
Building on the CGF’s work around human rights concerns in the palm oil sector since 2015, the HRC has launched the People Positive Palm Project to bring multinational companies and palm oil suppliers together to address shared forced labour concerns in the palm oil industry. It aims to foster collective action and advocacy on key issues faced in this industry – including a focus on understanding, addressing, and preventing recruitment fees – with the support of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and The Remedy Project.
The primary objective of the People Positive Project is to address the root causes of forced labour in a sustainable and structural manner. The project seeks to support suppliers develop the management systems they need to ensure they have undertaken substantial efforts to address forced labour. As a result, the project offers two complementary tracks in which all palm oil suppliers with operations in Malaysia are invited to participate in based on their individual needs, focusing on:
- Learning, which offers a series of no-cost collaborative workshops to build and share knowledge on how to address key risks; and/or
- Engagement, which offers tailored advisory services for suppliers to strengthen their management systems for responsible recruitment.
Both tracks will contribute towards collective advocacy to address forced labour in the Malaysian palm oil sector, particularly within the Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India migration corridors, and support further learning to scale into other geographies and categories from HRC members.
The project is intended to run through 2025, by which participating palm oil suppliers are intended to have implemented and/or improved their forced labour-focused Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) approach so that they offer a robust approach to the issue. The project will use the HRC’s Human Rights Due Diligence Maturity Journey Framework for Palm Oil Supply Chains – derived from the same framework developed for HRC members to use in their Own Operations – as a reference document that complements other existing resources and initiatives. Altogether, the project will help align actors’ practices with current and upcoming legal requirements of HRDD, international good practice, emerging international standards including Malaysia’s National Action Plan to Combat Forced Labour (NAPFL). It also will meet the increasing expectations of global customers, consumers, and supporting local communities, whilst getting practical support on their own HRDD systems.
Didier Bergeret, CGF Director of Sustainability, said, “The Malaysian palm oil has been under scrutiny due to the complex human rights issues in the labour market. As a result, businesses have been working hard to transform and align their practices with international standards, creating a fertile ground to help and learn to build strong HRDD systems throughout the supply chain. We believe bringing together retailers, manufacturers, and palm oil companies, we can effectively address some of the remaining challenges.”
Natasha Mahendran, Sustainable Sourcing Manager, Mars, said, “When we launched our Palm Positive Plan in 2019, we committed to making sweeping transformations to our palm supply chain to deliver deforestation-free palm oil and advance respect for human rights. We are encouraged by our progress to date, and we know there is more work to do. That is why we are a part of the People Positive Palm Project – to drive meaningful collaboration, strengthen HRDD management systems and put into practice CGF’s Priority Industry Principles to take action against forced labour.”
Mark Wong, Head of Downstream Sustainability at Sime Darby Plantation, said “It is important that all companies in the palm oil sector in Malaysia develop systems to address forced labour risks, to recognise that expectations and requirements change as awareness increases. These challenges require collective responses and concerted action. The People Positive Palm Project is an opportunity to align pre-competitive practices in order to level the playing field. Recruiting responsibly should not be seen as a burden but as a competitive advantage for the industry.”
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About the Human Rights Coalition – Working to End Forced Labour
The CGF Human Rights Coalition – Working to End Forced Labour (HRC) is a CEO-led Coalition of Action from The Consumer Goods Forum. As an initiative of 30 of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, the HRC is committed to helping achieve fair and decent working conditions worldwide by eradicating forced labour from its supply chains. 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. For more information about the HRC, 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 further information, please contact:
Director of Sustainability, CGF
Communications Manager, CGF