Certification Schemes

'Keep buying!' This is the message that certification schemes promote. Whenever an industrial or agricultural commodity falls into disrepute, a voluntary certification initiative will soon emerge. Certification schemes allow for the expansion of corporate control over community lands. They also have all failed to resolve conflicts between communities and the corporations that have taken over their territories. Their contribution to reducing ecological harm also remains elusive, especially where industrial monoculture plantations are given a “green” label.

In 2022, WRM, along with other allies, spoke with several authors from the publication, “15 Years of REDD: A Mechanism Rotten at the Core”. The aim was to reflect on the different layers of harmful impacts that REDD has caused over the last 15 years. Here is a summary of each contribution.
In line with certain aspects of a recent WRM study, we show how four REDD projects in the municipality of Portel, in the state of Pará in the Brazilian Amazon, contribute to perpetuating certain fantasies inherent to the idea of carbon trading through the REDD mechanism.
Most of the causes of deforestation that were identified in a UN-led global analysis from 1999 continue to exist. Yet, the “solutions” proposed since then have become new underlying causes of deforestation. In this scenario, projects that destroy the forest and “green” projects depend on each other in order to be viable.
There are currently 270,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in Ecuador. The resistance processes of the communities of La Chiquita, Guadualito and Barranquilla de San Javier in the region of Esmeraldas continue to generate outrage and solidarity among other communities, and internationally.

The Palmas del Ixcán company has used multiple tactics to grab land, as well as a deceptive RSPO certification process and the use of “independent producers.” Despite criminalization of communities, their resistance grows ever stronger.

Certification schemes seeking to legitimize activities that harm the environment and its people, with terms like “sustainable”, are a survival strategy for capitalism. In the framework of the energy transition, even the mining industry seeks to validate its unstoppable growth.

Can the inclusion of gender-specific policies in the operations of oil palm companies and the RSPO certification scheme do more than cover up the violence and structural patriarchy and racism inherent in the plantation model? How, in such context, do these gender policies unfold?

Despite the massive clearing of mangroves to make way for shrimp farms, and the oppression of fishing and gathering communities, this industry has access to certifications that not only facilitate its entry into foreign markets; they also conceal a history of violence against the peoples of the mangroves.

The Korindo Group cleared Kinggo’s Indigenous People’s forests for its industrial oil palm plantations. Petrus Kinggo and other community leaders were persuaded to give up customary forest land with misleading and false promises. Now they are fighting against the FSC-certified Korindo. (Available in Indonesian).

The RSPO certification scheme used the palm oil industry’s legitimacy crisis to strengthen the terrain to the industry’s own advantage by issuing certificates that supposedly guarantee sustainability standards.

Violence, massacre and forced displacement in the context of the armed conflict in Colombia have served to advance the industrial cultivation of oil palm. Palm-producing company Poligrow has an undeniable role in land-grabbing and intimidation in the municipality of Mapiripán.