One of our challenges to expand our planted areas is access to land. All remaining land in West New Britain is customary land and requires intense engagement with landowners. All land development undertaken by NBPOL takes into account the main tenancy of biodiversity, protection of cultural heritage and customary land use and the capability of the land to sustain the proposed agricultural activities.
As part of our RSPO commitment, we are required to ensure that the community really understand the implications and options of leasing their land to us. Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) recognizes indigenous peoples’ inherent and prior rights to their lands and resources and respects their legitimate authority to require that third parties enter into an equal and respectful relationship with them, based on the principle of informed consent. The underlying principles of FPIC ensure that indigenous peoples are informed and consulted on proposed initiatives, and participate meaningfully in discussions on its likely impacts.
Implementing FPIC has proven to be one of the most complex issues in our sustainability journey. It is not always easy to determine which individuals are truly representative of the community. It becomes more complex when we have to consider whether the rights of community minorities should supersede those of the majority. There are no easy answers, but we believe that we are learning and continually developing our engagement and consultation.