Liberian Civil Society Organizations and Government have met and shared perspectives at a two day national peer review workshop on monitoring tools in the oil palm sector. The meeting which ran from July 3-4, 2019 was organized by the Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI), a local civil society organization implementing the Round Table Sustainable Oil Palm project in Liberia.
Government agencies that participated in the knowledge sharing session include, Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Ministry of Agriculture, National Bureau of Concession (NBC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Civil society organizations are, Volunteers To Support International Efforts In Developing Africa (VOSIEDA), Friends of Frabaine International (FOFI) and Independent Forest Monitors (IFM).
Team Leader James Otto said the workshop was intended to bring line ministries and agencies and civil society organizations that are connected to the oil palm sector to share their different monitoring tools and experiences.
“The session helped us to see the different tools we are using, and was interesting to know how government agencies monitor performance of concession companies regarding basic human rights issues. Mr. Otto described monitoring as a key focus to ensuring compliance and practices by concession companies.
More so, he said the workshop was intended to build a team of government and civil society actors to work together to ensure companies are in compliance to concession laws and practices, adding, “We want to work as a team to ensure that we are doing the same together.
“The idea is to work together to address issues coming out of the sector, making sure we complement each other efforts in monitoring and information dissemination on companies’ responsibilities.
He noted that the COSs are now trying to leave from documenting issues to working together with government to address issues documented, nothing that if both parties collectively work together in gathering information, he do not see any reason why someone will say they have no knowledge on what is being discussed.
Meanwhile, Mr. James Otto has stressed the need for joint field monitoring by government and COSs.
For his part, the Project Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Henry S. Bundor, II termed the workshop as rewarding for the fact that it is in the interest of the country.
He said he is looking forward to timely compliance by oil palm companies with the joint monitoring initiatives between the government and CSOs
According to him, all these initiatives are gear towards making positive impacts on the community and the country at large, saying it is not about individuals, but the country.
Mr. Bundor used the occasion to call for more collaboration with civil society organizations working in the oil palm sector for information sharing and integration.