Earthworm Foundation is supporting Brazilian pulp and paper plantation companies within Nestlé and 3M’s supply chains to better engage with local indigenous and traditional communities.
Between 2015 and 2017 we assessed the practices of some of the major forest plantation companies in Brazil against Nestlé and 3M’s Responsible Sourcing Policies. How companies interacted with indigenous communities was raised as an issue.
Although the companies were engaging regularly with local communities, their discussions were not always fully aligned with good practices in keeping with the principal of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
With indigenous and traditional people having special, long-standing connections to their land and resources, the FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent) approach was set up. It ensures a process that their rights to have collective land use to ancestral territory to give or withhold consent to any work or projects that could affect them or their territories.
Pulp and paper is a ubiquitous commodity - it’s estimated around 40% of wood harvested around the world is used to make pulp and paper products for packaging and labels. For Nestlé, it is used to safely package and transport its products, whilst for 3M it is used in a variety of its packaging and products.
Simply recommending that Brazilian plantation companies reference FPIC in line with Nestlé, 3M and Earthworm responsible sourcing policy expectations would not solve the widespread concern surrounding FPIC obligations. So we took a different approach.
It involved supporting plantation companies on the journey. We identified Klabin , a progressive forest plantation and pulp and paper company, which through previous engagement had shown they were open to adopting FPIC. Together we designed training supported by Nestlé and 3M, that in 2019 was participated in by representatives from five major forest companies.
The resulting training we have designed to meet FPIC standards is reaching a growing number of companies. Earlier this year, the largest plantation forest company in Brazil, with more than two million hectare land holdings, included FPIC in its policy on Relations with Indigenous and Traditional People.
As part of this training, we built capacity and coached forest plantation companies on implementing these FPIC processes within their own operations. Two case studies have been written to share practical lessons learned; Demystifying the FPIC - Case of an Indigenous Community in Rio Grande do Sul (Hyperlink) with CMPC and Matas Sociais [Social Forests] with a afro-descendent community in Paraná with Klabin (Hyperlink). This capacity building is part of a wider initiative to incorporate FPIC within Nestlé and 3M’s pulp and paper supply chains
Building on this experience and positive feedback from the participating companies, we collaborated with FSC Brazil and Cooperative Program for Forest Certification in 2020 to offer a second remote edition (due to COVID 19) of the FPIC training. This was again supported by Nestlé and 3M.
Attendees participated from 25 forest plantation companies, along with members of the FSC Brazil standard development committees. The case studies were used as training materials and the companies presented their experiences and learnings from FPIC planning, negotiating to finding consensus with neighboring affected communities.
“Seeing is believing,” says Carolina Graca, (Earthworm Foundation Member Manager). “This training is showing that FPIC is helpful to improve relationships with communities and builds better business operations”.
Michele Zollinger and Kate Shelton both Responsible Sourcing leads from Nestlé and 3M respectively, reiterated their support to promoting FPIC within their supply chains, describing human rights and supporting community well-being as a priority for them within their respective Forest Positive strategy and Responsible Paper Sourcing policy.
This is a great example of how we are looking to collaborate between EF members and throughout our supply chains with our partners. Many different actors have contributed to this training and they look forward to following their performance on the implementation side and are encourage other companies to do the same.
In the meantime, we at Earthworm continue our ongoing efforts to build FPIC capacity within our productive forest and agribusiness members in Brazil and elsewhere to ensure their supply chains respect human rights and worker and community wellbeing.