London (AFP) - Indigenous and civil society leaders from Indonesia, Peru, Colombia and Liberia gathered in London Wednesday to urge a boycott of firms that commit human rights violations and land seizures to cultivate palm oil.
The delegates presented a petition to the London Stock Exchange calling on investors, consumers and governments to ensure palm oil used in the European Union is from sustainable sources.
The EU is the third largest importer of palm oil, a key ingredient in many everyday goods, from biscuits to make-up.
Demand for the oil has rocketed in recent years but the expansion of the industry has been blamed for the destruction of tropical forests and polluting forest fires.
Signatories from the four countries called on Europeans to "stop investing and funding companies and business operations that are associated directly or indirectly with human rights violations, past or present illegal land acquisitions, deforestation and other environmental damage".
They also called for strict controls to ensure that food, cosmetic and drink products are free from palm oil associated with such abuses.
Willian Aljure, an activist with the Colombian group CONPAZ, added that the group wanted "international solidarity" to demand protection and justice for indigenous and local communities affected by the palm oil sector.
"You cannot separate human rights from environmental damage," he said in a statement.