FERN’s Palm-Oil Expose Helps Force World Bank to Fix Policy

Children Left Vulnerable By World Bank Amid Push For Development,” which was published on The Huffington Post in October 2015, is the latest installment of “Evicted and Abandoned,” a yearlong investigation into the hidden toll of World Bank-financed development projects on the some of the planet’s poorest people. The story was part of a collaboration with the International Center for Investigative Journalists and HuffPost. It explores the dramatic expansion of palm-oil plantations in the rainforests of Indonesia. Reporters Jocelyn Zuckerman and Michael Hudson detail abuses committed against Batin Sembilan, an indigenous community in Sumatra that was forcibly resettled by the largest agribusiness in Asia, Wilmar International Ltd.

As of January 2016, the series had generated more than 600,000 views on HuffPost alone, along with millions more viewers/listeners/readers on National Public Radio, German broadcasters NDR and WDRThe GuardianLe Monde, and more than 20 other media partners. More than 50 journalists were involved in producing the series. Series earned an Honorable Mention award from the Society of Environmental Journalists. It also won the Gold Keyboard Award from the New York Press Club, the Whitman Bassow Award for Environmental Reporting from the Overseas Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists‘ Sigma Delta Chi Award, the National Headliner Award, and the Online News Association‘s Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award. And the series was a finalist for a Gerard Loeb AwardInvestigative Reporters and Editors Award for Innovation in Investigative Journalism, and Columbia Journalism School’s John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.

Finally, and most significantly, the series also prompted the World Bank in December to announce sweeping reform of its social criterion for bank loans, in an effort to better protect people in the path of development.

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