16 September 2021
In the article published by Bloomberg regarding its own ESG ratings of Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), the authors claim that Bloomberg's high ESG ratings protects bad actors.
GAR refutes this sweeping statement.
GAR has not hidden or sought to obscure any wrongdoing on the part of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) which GAR invests in through the Verdant Fund. GAR has published statements on its website regarding GVL's clearance of High Carbon Stock forests and affirmed that it will be actively monitoring GVL's remedial actions. GVL's grievances have also been published on the Grievance List which is publicly available on GAR's website. This tracks GVL's actions on the issues including the HCS clearance and the social grievances. GAR has also kept its key stakeholders actively informed of the progress of the GVL issues.
GVL's statements on these cases can also be seen here: https://goldenveroleumliberia.com/gvl-acknowledges-hcsa-decision-reaffirms-commitment-to-sustainable-operations/, https://goldenveroleumliberia.com/gvl-responds-to-foe-commentary/ and the progress of its Action Plan is reported here.
Bloomberg does not actively seek feedback or review from the companies it ranks nor proactively share its methodology. Meanwhile, GAR participates in many other assessments including the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the FTSE4Good index assessment, CDP and others. These ESG assessments seek feedback and review and also consider any ongoing controversies or issues in their ranking. We believe key stakeholders will also be aware of these assessments and will be consulting them regularly in order to gain a fuller and balanced picture of GAR's ESG performance. Since different ESG rankings consider different aspects and have different methodologies, we also believe there is no substitute for active engagement, which is why we hold regular briefings for our stakeholders and welcome queries and dialogue on any issue or grievance.
GAR has been recognised for its proven record of responding quickly and effectively to grievances. The NGO, Mighty Earth has consistently ranked GAR as the company with the highest number of resolved grievances for the last couple of years.
This is not the first time that an article has been published questioning GAR's ESG score. We have no control over how ratings agencies, including Bloomberg, score our ESG performance but we would like to urge the ESG ratings community to think about the best way to present a company's performance holistically and in a balanced way, taking into account and weighing the areas of good performance as well as areas for continued improvement.
About Golden Agri-Resources Ltd (GAR)
GAR is one of the leading palm oil plantation companies with a total planted area of 536,877 hectares (including plasma smallholders) as at 30 June 2021, located in Indonesia. It has integrated operations focused on the production and distribution of an extensive portfolio of palm-based products.
Founded in 1996, GAR was listed on the Singapore Exchange in 1999 and has a market capitalisation of US$2.2 billion as at 30 June 2021. Flambo International Limited, an investment company, is currently GAR's largest shareholder, with a 50.52 percent stake. GAR has several subsidiaries, including PT SMART Tbk which was listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange in 1992.
GAR is focused on responsible palm oil production. In Indonesia, its primary activities include cultivating and harvesting of oil palm trees; processing of fresh fruit bunch into crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel; refining CPO into value-added products such as cooking oil, margarine, shortening, biodiesel and oleo-chemicals; as well as merchandising palm products globally. GAR's products are delivered to a diversified customer base in over 70 countries through its global distribution network with shipping and logistics capabilities, destination marketing, on-shore refining and ex-tank operations in many countries. GAR also has complementary businesses such as soybean-based products in China, sunflower-based products in India, as well as sugar businesses.
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