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Tracking Our Progress: An Update on Earthworm Foundation's Engagement with PT Toba Pulp Lestari, Tbk (5th Update)

Tracking Our Progress: An Update on Earthworm Foundation's Engagement with PT Toba Pulp Lestari, Tbk (5th Update)

Tracking Our Progress: An Update on Earthworm Foundation's Engagement with PT Toba Pulp Lestari, Tbk (5th Update)

September 2023 - In October 2022, Earthworm Foundation initiated its collaboration with PT Toba Pulp Lestari Tbk. (TPL), subsequently issuing a public progress report in December of the same year. In April 2023, Earthworm responded to stakeholder inquiries by reiterating its steadfast dedication to transparently documenting the progress made with TPL. The public update released in May 2023 covered activities and progress from January through April 2023. This public update covers the progress of activities from May to August 2023. Earthworm will provide a further comprehensive update in December 2023.

In this update, we share information related to public consultation, participatory mapping processes, conflict mapping, and reviewing Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs).

Public Consultation on Participatory Mapping in Sionom Hudon Timur

An important milestone was reached at the Sionom Hudon Timur (SHT) Village Office on 21 August 2023, where the outcomes of the Public Consultation on Participatory Mapping were presented. This event served as a platform to gather valuable insights and disseminate the results of the Participatory Mapping process, which focused on delineating village boundaries.

The event was attended by approximately 471 individuals, representing a diverse cross-section of stakeholders. Among the attendees were the village administrators and residents of SHT, community leaders, and traditional village figures known as "Raja Huta." Furthermore, government representatives from the sub-district of Parlilitan and the District of Humbang Hasundutan, as well as the Forest Management Unit (KPH) XIII Dolok Sanggul, were also a part of the event. The village heads and leaders of neighbouring villages, including Simataniari, Sion Sibulbulon, Sihas Habinsaran, Sion Selatan, and Sion Timur, were also well-represented and participated in the event. The former Regent of Serdang Begadai District, and representative of Sumatera Forest NGO, enriched the perspectives from the non-governmental sector.

The focal point of the event was the presentation of SHT Village's Participatory Mapping process, led by a representative from the SHT Community. The presentation facilitated collaborative discussions among stakeholders and provided a comprehensive overview of the mapping process. The speakers shed light on the multifaceted nature of participatory mapping, a process that unfolded within the unique context of SHT Village. The journey was marked by comprehensive participatory mapping initiatives carried out in partnership between Earthworm, TPL, and the local community.

The participants agreed unanimously that there was a need for specific actions following the public consultation. The participants outlined five key steps:

  1. After the public consultation, the boundary map of SHT Village will be improved, incorporating stakeholders' input.
  2. SHT Village Government will collaborate with Earthworm, Humbang Hasundutan Regency Government, the Parlilitan Subdistrict Government, KPH XIII Dolok Sanggul, and relevant administrative bodies to enhance the map refinement process.
  3. The refined map will be submitted for Humbang Hasundutan Regency Government approval, establishing it as the official village boundary.
  4. The SHT Village community, along with Earthworm, will advocate for the development of Village Regulation to govern the overlapping areas between the village and the concession. This advocacy will include collaboration with TPL.
  5. Earthworm will facilitate the formulation of agreements between the SHT Village community and TPL to protect forested and benzoin-planted areas within the overlapping areas.

In the next four months, Earthworm will refine the map, involving diverse stakeholders, including the local community, government entities, and companies. This will entail intensive communication with the community to develop a plan for village regulations and engage in extensive dialogue with the company to discuss the forthcoming steps regarding their commitment to the agreement with the community.

Pic 1-8. Inclusive Public Consultation for SHT Participatory Mapping with Multiple Stakeholders

Participatory Mapping in Simataniari

The initiative in SHT also served as a foundational activity to help address land claims in the nearby Simataniari Village. This involves participatory approaches to engage the local community, government entities, and TPL, ensuring precision in conflict resolution. Beyond facilitating Simataniari's boundary definition, this endeavour fostered constructive dialogue between the company and communities in close proximity to concession areas. The participatory mapping initiatives in Simataniairi represent an initial step towards pursuing a constructive, inclusive, and participatory resolution to the conflict involving Pargamanan-Bintang Maria (as a part of Simataniari Village) and TPL.

A community engagement session is on the agenda for Simataniari in November 2023, featuring collaboration with the District, Sub-district, and Village government, as well as the community, to enhance cooperation among various stakeholders. Earthworm will also support the participatory mapping process in Simataniari Village, scheduled for late 2023. This activity will be crucial in providing accurate data to support the conflict resolution process between TPL and the community, given Simataniari's shared boundary with SHT and TPL's concession.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Review

Earthworm has undertaken a comprehensive evaluation of TPL's SOPs related to land and concession grievances. This assessment encompassed a thorough examination of various elements within the SOPs, including their scope, objectives, work instructions, and delineation of responsibilities. As a result of this rigorous review process, Earthworm has provided a series of recommendations for the refinement and improvement of 39 SOPs that were deemed in need of revision, addition, consolidation, or removal.

A significant milestone on the horizon is the forthcoming workshop scheduled for October 2023, during which Earthworm will facilitate a workshop which will be devoted to the development of a comprehensive manual for SOP development, a specific requirement identified for TPL. Moreover, by the end of the year, an in-depth analysis will be conducted to augment further the SOPs concerning grievance and conflict resolution combined with conflict resolution training, resulting in a more holistic approach to addressing land and concession-related conflicts.

It is anticipated that draft SOPs for grievance and conflict resolution, Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes, and communication protocols will be finalized in the first quarter of next year. After this phase, TPL will test the updated procedures, with Earthworm guiding TPL's implementation in practice and adapting further the SOPs as needed. TPL will then proceed to publish the SOPs, particularly those on grievance handling, which is targeted to be achieved in the third quarter of the upcoming year.

Conflict Mapping

Following a comprehensive review of land claims across the five TPL estates, the findings from the conflict mapping exercise were presented during a consultation workshop with TPL Management, the Social Capital Department, the Sustainability Department, and Earthworm team in June 2023. This workshop highlighted a significant discrepancy in conflict data between the Social Capital Department and the Planning Department, indicating variations in the use of conflict data indicators and categorisation methods by these departments.

To address these disparities and improve the accuracy of conflict data, a consolidation effort is scheduled to take place in the next four months. This initiative aims to merge the conflict data collected from both the Social Capital Department in each estate and the Planning Department. Upon successful data reconciliation, TPL will proceed to prioritise specific conflict cases and formulate corresponding action plans.

Pic. 9-10. Collaborative Workshop on Conflict Mapping with TPL (Management, SOCAP, Sustainability) and Earthworm Foundation

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September 2023