Visiting members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) have completed a field visit to Sinoe County, Liberia and have proceeded to Grand Kru County.
The RSPO team is meeting communities engaged in oil palm development with investor Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL).
Over the past few days the delegation met with members of the Numopoh, Butaw and Tarjuowon communities, as well as GVL staff and managers.
In Numopoh the citizens talked to RSPO about their development goals in the area with GVL and endorsed the cooperation they have with the company.
Also in attendance at the meetings recently were non-governmental organizations Sustainable Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development (SesDEV), Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU) and Green Advocates.
SAMFU was welcomed in Numopoh as a team who listens to the community and has local citizens as its advisors. According to a press release, in Tarjuowon, youths and citizens blocked the progress of the RSPO convoy and delayed passage of Green Advocates.
Youth representatives stressed their need for development and not hindrance from NGOs they considered as uninvited by the communities. The disruption caused delays to some members getting to Grand Kru.
When asked about the delay, GVL Communications Head Virgil Magee responded, "The delay was unfortunate.
GVL recognizes the rights of the communities to voice their opinions. Sometimes this happens too robustly. We do not encourage or sanction overt pressure tactics of any sort from either side and are grateful that this ended calmly."
Magee went on to say that differing opinions are very important in any debate, especially one that will affect the future prosperity of host communities, Liberia and the company.
He also mentioned it is company policy to share information openly with media, community members and other stakeholder groups, including those of differing opinions and that GVL was grateful to RSPO for investing the time to visit Liberia and assess the local context directly.