Two weeks ago, REDD-Monitor wrote a post about a partnership between WWF and Rougier, a French logging company, in Cameroon. The partnership is part of WWF’s controversial Global Forest and Trade Network.
The post on REDD-Monitor was based largely on a post on Survival International’s website that accuses WWF of partnering with a company that is logging without the consent of the local indigenous Baka communities.
“Bruno” left the following comment after the post:
Guys: reporting. No one could pick up the phone and ask WWF what they had to say about this?
Bruno’s right. I could have rung up WWF. I’m sure I would have got a nice sound bite telling me that WWF is very concerned, that GTFN is an important and innovative transformational programme, and that anyway, Rougier is FSC certified. Or something like that.
Anyway, the day after publishing the post, I sent some questions to Annabelle Ledoux and Marielle Chaumien at WWF France. These two people are listed as sources of further information in WWF’s January 2016 news release, about progress made in the partnership with Rougier.
Two days later, Phil Dickie replied. Dickie has a wonderful job title: “Head, Issues Management at WWF International”. Having nagged me a bit about not contacting WWF before publication, Dickie wrote, “We’ll let that pass, however.”
Because my questions were “quite broadranging”, Dickie said he had “a few internal inquiries to make”. He also asked if he could “go through some essential context off the record”. That’s fine, I replied, as long as I get on the record answers to my questions.
I’m still waiting for Dickie to get back to me, either on or off the record.
In the meantime, here are the questions I sent to WWF. I look forward to posting WWF’s response in full when it arrives.
- As far as I’m aware, WWF has not responded to the accusations made by Survival International that WWF is partnering with a company that is logging without the consent of the local indigenous Baka communities. Why has WWF not responded?
- What is WWF’s response to Survival International’s accusations?
- Did WWF consult with the Baka communities living in and near Rougier’s concessions in Cameroon before entering into the partnership with Rougier (i.e. before Rougier became a member of WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network in October 2009)? Was a process of free, prior and informed consent carried out with the Baka communities before October 2009? Could you please describe this process. If no FPIC process was carried out, please explain why not.
- It is clear from Rainforest Alliance’s Forest Stewardship Council audit reports that the company had limited information about local communities when the assessment was carried out in November 2012. Rainforest Alliance wrote: “SFID is at the beginning stages in obtaining information and awareness of local communities to process their customary use rights”. This is clearly in breach of FSC’s Principle 3 on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. How can the certificate be awarded in this situation?
- This seems to be a bizarre process – Rougier appears to be responsible for explaining to the Baka communities what rights they have. Yet Rougier is impinging on those rights, through its logging activities. Is WWF playing any role in this process?
- Why did WWF decide to partner with Rougier, rather than with the Baka communities?
- There are three articles on the GFTN website about WWF’s partnership with Rougier:
- 27 March 2013: FSC certification in Cameroon surpasses 1 million hectares
- 9 April 2015: WWF France and Rougier to jointly advance responsible forest management and trade
- 26 January 2016: WWF and Rougier take stock on the progress made after one year of collaboration to promote responsible forest management
Only the first of these mentions the word “indigenous”. Why does GFTN put so little priority on indigenous peoples and their rights?
- In 2011, Global Witness produced a report about GFTN titled “Pandering to the loggers”. WWF responded. Global Witness replied. WWF announced that it would carry out a review of GFTN. In May 2012, the review was completed. Please send me a copy of the review – and please explain why the review is not posted on the GFTN website. What reforms has WWF carried out to the GFTN process as a result of the review?