March Featured Member: Rainforest Action Network
By: Suzanna Baum
Who is RAN and how do you work?
Rainforest Action Network is a San Francisco-based organization that campaigns for the world's forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing and non-violent direct action.
In order to create the leverage for protecting far away forests such as those in Indonesia, we work in coalition with environmental and human rights groups around the world to design global market campaigns. Simultaneously, we also work with and support the efforts of Indigenous and forest dependent communities as well as other frontline environmental groups to achieve ecologically sustainable solutions within their own regions.
Briefly, what are some of RAN's successful corporate campaigns, including any that have helped to transform the paper industry?
In recent history RAN's Rainforest Free Paper campaign (which I work on) launched a campaign to push U.S. publishers toward rainforest-safe papers. We found that many publishers, despite having environmental paper policies, were using paper made from cleared Indonesian rainforests. At the end of 2010 in response to our campaign, nine top U.S. publishers committed to stop sourcing paper that threatens Indonesia's rainforests. One publisher that didn't make a commitment was Disney, so in May 2011 we launched a campaign calling on Disney to enact a comprehensive paper policy that would eliminate notorious Indonesian pulp and paper giants APP and APRIL, amongst other things. We are currently in negotiations with Disney and are (cautiously) optimistic that we will reach agreement on a global paper policy that ensures the company will stop sourcing paper from Indonesia's and the world's endangered forests and increase use of responsible alternatives like recycled paper.
RAN works closely with "frontline communities" facing the most direct impacts from expansion of the paper industry. Can you discuss the importance of this in your work and any examples?
The people on the front lines of the pulp and paper industry's expansion are experiencing the very real, day-to-day impacts of this industry. For many communities in Indonesia this means they have lost their homes and livelihoods, sometimes by forceful eviction, to expansion by companies like Asia Pulp and Paper and APRIL. RAN believes it is essential to listen to those most impacted by the industry's we are seeking to change, and for our Indonesian pulp and paper campaign, we endorse a demand set to the industry that has been created by over 30 Indonesian civil society groups and networks and 500 NGO affiliates. Do No More Harm
RAN also financially supports frontline communities through our program called Protect-An-Acre (PAA). PAA provides small grants to traditionally under-funded organizations and communities in forest regions that are working to regain control of and sustainably manage their traditional territories through land title initiatives, community education, development of sustainable economic alternatives, and grassroots resistance to destructive industrial activities.
What forest issues and campaigns are you engaged in right now? Are there particular areas of the planet that are under immediate threat and pose social and environmental risks that companies who buy paper should know about?
RAN's forest program is focused on Indonesia, which has the third largest area of remaining rainforest in the world. The scale and pace of deforestation in Indonesia is so extreme that it is having devastating consequences for species, communities and the climate. RAN's two forest campaigns are designed to confront the primary drivers of this destruction, the expansion of palm oil plantations and logging by the pulp and paper industry, through U.S. market campaigns.
Our palm oil campaign is calling on Cargill, the U.S. largest importer of palm oil, to adopt global safeguards for all of the palm oil it sells, trades, and refines, while our pulp and paper campaign is calling on Indonesia's largest pulp and paper companies to heed the calls of Indonesian civil society to stop clearing natural forests and respect and uphold the free, prior and informed consent of forest dependent communities. In coordination with our Indonesian and international allies, our paper campaign is also calling on U.S. and multinational companies to stop sourcing from Asia Pulp and Paper, APRIL and their affiliates until reforms are met.
How can people get more involved with Rainforest Action Network and support your campaigns?
There are many ways people can get involved with RAN. From sending emails to Cargill's CEO to organizing events in your own community, the best way to stay up to date and get involved in all of RAN's campaigns is to join our listserv at ran.org.
Why is RAN a member of the Environmental Paper Network?
The EPN plays a vital role in coordinating the efforts of many groups pushing the paper industry towards greater social and environmental responsibility. RAN's participation in the EPN helps us stay abreast of our allies' efforts and the latest issues in the pulp and paper industry as well as contribute to and create coalition efforts that serve and forward our vision for a world where each generation sustains increasingly healthy forests, the rights of all communities are respected, and corporate profits never come at the expense of people or the planet.
Thanks for getting to know Rainforest Action Network. Please keep an eye out in April for our next featured member, The Natural Resources Council of Maine.