CommunitiesREA’s ability to operate is dependent on establishing and maintaining good relationships with the communities that live near the group’s operations. To achieve this, the group aims to:
- ensure that all formal and customary community land use rights are respected and transferred to the group with the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the rights-holders
- assist the communities which are affected by REA’s operations to become socio-economically self-sufficient by implementing community development programmes and smallholder schemes
Land use rightsLand tenure in Indonesia is complex, with distinct legal and customary systems for allocating land use rights administered by numerous authorities that operate at the national down to the sub-village level. This frequently results in overlapping claims to a particular area of land between companies and local communities as well as between villages and individuals. Consequently, an area of land leased to a company by the government for the purpose of oil palm cultivation will, almost without exception, be encumbered with an array of formal and informal land use rights.
REA takes care to ensure that all legitimate legal and customary land use rights are identified in a systematic manner prior to developing a new area of land. The group will only initiate land clearing if free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is obtained from the holders of such rights, in return for which fair compensation is paid.
Community developmentIn 2013, REA adopted a new vision for its community development programme: ‘to become a leading partner in helping the community to become socio-economically self-reliant’. This vison is underpinned by a community development strategy which aims to have long term positive impacts on both the group’s relationship with the local villages and their welfare. The key elements of this strategy are:
- To prioritise investment in infrastructure projects, particularly access to electricity, clean water and roads. REA will consider supporting other infrastructure projects proposed by local communities as long as they will benefit the village as a whole
- To provide education and training that will assist members of the local communities to enter employment or establish their own business
- To involve local government and neighbouring companies in designing and implementing community development programmes wherever possible
REA has invested in the installation of water treatment plants for 17 villages neighbouring the REAK concession. Once constructed, responsibility for managing the water treatment plants is handed over to the respective villages. The village operators are provided with the training necessary to manage the plant and REA works with the village government to ensure that all operating costs are covered by their annual budget.
Since April 2015, villages in the vicinity of REA’s operations have been supplied with renewable electricity generated by the group’s methane capture facilities as a result of a pioneering collaboration between the group and the Indonesian national electricity company, PLN. REA has invested in the installation of the three gas engines needed to generate an additional three megawatts of power, in addition to the four generators providing power for the group’s own use; PLN has installed the infrastructure necessary to connect 26 villages (comprising some 13,000 households) to this supply of renewable energy. This includes 15 villages that were not already connected to PLN’s existing transmission line in the area, which previously supplied electricity produced from diesel powered generators. There is potential for the supply of electricity from the group’s methane capture facilities to surrounding villages to be increased from three to eight megawatts in future.
This collaboration brings material long term benefits for local people, the planet and the group’s business. PLN, which controls all sales of electricity in Indonesia, purchases from REA the electricity utilised by the local communities. Communities who choose to have electricity meters installed have access to a reliable source of electricity, which should act as a catalyst for socio-economic development. Since many of these villages previously relied on diesel powered generators, switching their supply to electricity from a renewable source reduces diesel consumption and consequently GHG emissions.