Asian Agri recently reached a hat-trick of milestones. These were achievements built on years of smallholder engagement and committed public-private partnerships as the company forges ahead as a community-focused, responsible...
APRIL’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) published its progress report, providing a retrospective of its engagement with one of the largest, most technologically advanced and efficient makers of pulp and paper products in the world. Meeting for the first time in January 2014, the SAC operates as an independent body tasked with overseeing the implementation of APRIL’s Sustainable Forest Management Policy (SFMP) 2.0, as well as appointing an independent assurance provider to monitor progress in meeting policy goals.
Noting the achievements over the past four years, SAC Chairman Joe Lawson said, “The positives are clear. Transparency has improved. The harvesting of tropical hardwood has ended. The landscape approach restoration on the Kampar Peninsula is, in our view, a world class project; as is the Fire Free Village Program which has seen an extraordinary reduction in burning by tackling the cause, not the symptom.”
The report also highlighted
- The formation of the Independent Peat Expert Working Group (IPEWG), a group of world class peatland experts to help APRIL manage its peatland concessions in a responsible manner
- The setting up of an internal due diligence monitoring programme to engage with suppliers on a step-wise approach to compliance
- The establishment of the grievance resolution mechanism that is accessible to all communities
- The regular conducting of stakeholder forums and uploading their minutes online
- The annual independent assurance process by KPMG and the Action Plans that the company is required to develop in response to the findings
- The sustainability dashboard which provides updates on programmes, initiatives and other developments, demonstrating accountability and transparency
Among the challenges, Lawson noted that it is important to include critics of APRIL in the SAC and that while some stakeholders remain sceptical, continuing to engage them is key. “There are still major and complex issues ahead, but we are confident that, advised by its advisory bodies and the many specialists and conservation NGOs working with APRIL, progress will continue to be made on all these.”
He also noted that ensuring all suppliers, large and small, continue to comply with the requirements of APRIL’s SFMP2.0 is an ongoing journey. This involves finding a way to incentivise smaller suppliers to engage in the development and implementation of landscape management plans.
At the end of the report APRIL President Praveen Singhavi thanked the SAC for its work and inputs to the company for the past four years. “We accept that there will always be more to do and that the path forward will continue to involve challenges. We re-affirm our commitment to the work of the SAC and look forward to positive, constructive collaboration in the years ahead,” he said.
Click here to read the full report.