Unsustainable expansion of industrial agriculture has not only had a devastating effect on the Earth’s climate and wildlife, but also all too often on the local communities who lose access to traditional resources and may be exploited as workers.
Millions of people around the world rely upon the forest for their livelihoods. Forest dependent communities and indigenous peoples in particular have deep cultural connections to the forests and the lands where they live. Forests provide food, shelter, medicine, and clean water. In many cases, agricultural production can be done in a manner that protects the rights of indigenous and local communities, but too often this is not the case.
Sadly, the same multinational corporations that recklessly clear forests have also too often abused the rights of local communities and their own workers. Communities around the world continue to have their land taken away by plantation companies without consent or compensation – and sometimes, companies even resort to violence when local people try to assert their rights. Once up and operating, many companies have been found to violate basic labor practices in their workforce.
A Bloomberg Business investigation in 2013 uncovered widespread use of child labor, dangerous working conditions, human trafficking, wage theft and more on palm oil plantations throughout Indonesia. In 2015, another investigation by The Wall Street Journal showed serious human and labor rights violations associated with the palm oil industry in Malaysia. These reports and many others show an urgent need for reform and accountability.
That’s why Forest Heroes and our partners have worked to convince many of the world’s largest agribusinesses and consumer brands to eliminate human and labor rights exploitation from their supply chains. Companies that have adopted No Exploitation policies are committed to upholding and promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all workers, contractors, indigenous people, local communities and anyone affected by their operations. Furthermore, companies must respect the rights of indigenous and local communities to give Free Prior and Informed Consent for proposed projects that may affect their lands and homes.
Companies need to know that consumers and concerned citizens will not tolerate any further exploitation. We must do more to protect the rights of communities and workers around the world: take action with us here today.