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Progress on Action Plan: An update on Earthworm Foundation's engagement with PT Toba Pulp Lestari, Tbk

May 2023
Last updated: September 2023

In October 2022, Earthworm Foundation commenced work with PT Toba Pulp Lestari Tbk. (TPL), which was followed by a public update in December 2022. In April 2023, Earthworm responded to a publication by stakeholders, reaffirming our commitment to transparently reporting our progress. This update covers our activities from January to April 2023. Earthworm plans to provide a further update in September 2023.

Earthworm provided conflict mapping and participatory mapping training to TPL, engaging local communities and assessing TPL's social engagement and grievance mechanism systems. Our priority is to collaborate with TPL in designing and executing a community engagement plan that addresses the current local context.

Progress to date

Earthworm provided two training sessions for TPL divisions (i.e., mid-level management) involved in land-related grievance mechanisms to enhance capacity and improve their internal processes. The first session focused on conflict mapping, conflict description analysis methods, classification, and resolution planning, in preparation for TPL's conflict mapping activity.

The second session targeted participatory mapping, tailored to TPL's work area and provided technical guidance for effective implementation. The training will significantly benefit the execution of conflict and participatory mapping activities, with a potential need for further training.

Fig. 1. Knowledge Sharing Process in Earthworm’s Trainings
Fig. 2. Group Discussion Process to Explore Training Material

Earthworm has provided guidance and support to TPL staff in the process of conflict mapping related to land claims in all five estates (i.e., Tele, Habinsaran, Aek Raja, Aek Nauli, and Tapanuli Selatan), with a target completion date set for mid-year. As of now, TPL has documented and classified various types of conflicts, their dynamics, and actors involved in the working area, albeit not yet completed. Following this process, EF and TPL will assess and prioritise conflict resolution within a framework. The conflict mapping process plays a crucial role in enabling TPL to take proactive measures in preventing and mitigating future conflicts.

Fig. 3. The Framework Employed for Mapping Conflicts in the Five TPL Estates

Earthworm and TPL conducted a participatory mapping activity in Sionom Hudon Timur (SHT) village, applying the principles of Free, Prior, Informed, Consent (FPIC) and involving local leaders and the community. An indicative boundary map of the village was generated based on the results and discussed in a joint meeting with representatives of the neighbouring Simataniari village. The meeting resulted in an agreed-upon boundary and ongoing refinement of the map. The joint meeting fosters cooperation and mutual understanding between the communities, essential in conflict resolution. The ongoing process of improving the map and extending the activity to other estates is promising. The map will undergo consultation involving various stakeholders, planned for mid-year, before its release.

Fig. 4. EF and TPL teams, together with the local community of SHT, conduct GPS coordinate data collection at the village boundaries as perceived by the community
Fig. 5. EF and TPL teams engage in a collaborative discussion on the outcomes of participatory mapping with the local community of SHT

Next steps

Once the conflict mapping is completed, Earthworm will provide TPL with conflict resolution training. This training will aim to equip TPL’s field team with the skills and strategies necessary to manage and resolve conflicts with communities effectively. Earthworm will conduct periodic progress reviews to ensure completion of the conflict mapping, assess progress, identify obstacles, and make necessary adjustments to achieve the objectives. Earthworm and TPL will enhance participatory mapping by improving the indicative map developed with the SHT community.

Earthworm will take the lead in the process and engage neighbouring villages. Public consultation will be conducted mid-year to promote stakeholder collaboration and coordination and to ensure that the resulting participatory maps reflect the inputs of community members following FPIC principles.

Earthworm has reviewed business processes and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), specifically those related to land and concession boundaries. Among the 112 identified SOPs, 33 are related to land and concession boundaries. The review process is being conducted in collaboration with the relevant divisions in TPL, focusing on the scope, work instructions, forms, and databases. Several overlapping and redundant SOPs have been identified, which need to be reduced and also better incorporate the principles of FPIC and grievance handling. After identification, next month, TPL will start to improve, consolidate, separate, and/or develop new SOPs as a preventive measure to manage grievances, claims, and conflicts.

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Earthworm plans to provide a further update in September 2023.