KOTA KINABALU: Several non-governmental organisations have grouped together to form the Malaysian Palm Oil NGO coalition (MPONGOC) to engage more effectively with the major players in the palm oil industry.
MPONGOC – made up of WWF Malaysia, Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch), and Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) among others – aims to influence land use policy and decision-making.
It said it would also be working towards advocating consumer responsibility.
“We intend to engage with all parties, bring our collective voice, leadership, skills and experience to the table to deepen and expand dialogue between civil society, industry and government in the vital conversation of sustainability for all,” said Cynthia Ong, executive director of Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), one of the NGO members.
WWF-Malaysia’s executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said that while it recognised that the oil palm industry generates valuable foreign exchange earnings and employment opportunities, it was concerned at the prospect of the industry continuing to expand and operate in an unsustainable manner.
“We hope that through MPONGOC, the industry, regulators, financiers, buyers and other stakeholders could work collectively to develop and promote the adoption of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable practices,” he said.
Anne Lasimbang, executive director of Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust, another NGO member, said indigenous people were often at the losing end in oil palm development.
“Many have lost native customary rights land to large estates. This is a serious issue, and one that is largely swept under the carpet. We see MPONGOC as being able to offer solutions by involving all stakeholders,” she said.
The coalition is made up of the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS), Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Sabah branch, Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust and WWF Malaysia.
The Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) is acting as an observer.
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