***Press release issued by Illovo, 23 November 2015***
In the first major step to progress the objectives of Illovo’s recently announced and ground-breaking Road Map on Land Rights, the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Land Policy Roundtable Committee is to take place in London during the first week of December 2015. In addition to Illovo representatives, the committee consists of independent experts and non-governmental organisations, , including representatives of Landesa, Oxfam, DIFD, IFAD, USAID, Ethical Sugar and Resource Equity. The committee will act in an advisory capacity to assist Illovo to implement its Land Guidelines, promote transparency and share knowledge about Illovo’s zero tolerance policy towards unsanctioned land acquisition (often referred to as “land grabs”).
These developments follow the publication of Illovo’s Group Guidelines on Land and Land Rights which, in line with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), reflect Illovo’s commitment to respecting internationally recognised human rights and complement its Code of Conduct and Business Ethics and other policies and practices to protect against human rights abuses, including abuses of land rights. These guidelines complement our Strategic Intent and Code of Conduct, underpinning our approach to land and land rights in the areas in which we operate.
The publication of the guidelines followed a stakeholder engagement initiative which included land experts and NGOs, who have fully supported the process. Oxfam noted on its website at the time:
Illovo is Africa’s largest sugar producer operating in six countries in southern Africa — Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Mozambique. Recently the company became the fifth food and beverage (and the first African company) to adopt a zero tolerance land grabs policy — which covers its suppliers too. This comes after Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever all made commitments to respect community land rights. Illovo is a subsidiary of Associated British Foods — one of the companies in the Behind the Brands campaign. A year after Oxfam called on the 10 biggest global food and beverage companies to take action on land grabs, in the summer of 2014, Illovo’s new policy commitment has proved that companies do listen to supporters like you that took over 300,000 action.
In the full statement, Oxfam said:
Illovo has acknowledged its responsibility to help protect the land rights of the communities in areas where it operates. Illovo’s commitment to the principle of Free Prior and Informed consent (FPIC) provides communities with the right to decide for themselves about the future of their land. Illovo’s commitment is bold. The company seems to have a genuine interest in using their influence to protect the land rights of the communities in which it operates.
Illovo has committed to reporting transparently on its endeavours by providing regular reports on its progress on the Illovo website.