As we enter 2020, Indonesia has been facing new challenges with severe rain leading to flooding and related disasters impacting thousands of people. It seems that all around the world, including in Indonesia, the impact of climate change is becoming more real every single day.
For the great archipelagic country that is our home, rising seas, with the growing pressure of population and inadequate environmental management, as well as more resource extraction and manufacturing, amount to a huge challenge.
The sad truth is that our nation is dealing with very serious environmental challenges and degradation in many sectors, because of deforestation, overexploitation of terrestrial and marine resources, as well as flawed waste management.
Deforestation in the country is driven by various industries and purposes, from large multinational companies to land clearing for agricultural purposes and plantations, as well as the growing population that pushes more people to encroach to rainforests area to cultivate the land.
Rampant deforestation — faster than anywhere else in the world — has also contributed to the increase of greenhouse gases emissions, putting Indonesia as the world’s fourth largest emitter after India, China and the United States.
Cutting forest also affects Indonesia’s water security. As the area of rainforest is reduced, its ability to absorb water also decreases. Thus, the surrounding areas become much more prone to floods during the wet seasons and drought during the dry season.
More frequent and widespread floods and droughts are ample demonstration that the impact of climate change has already been felt in Indonesia, posing a big threat to the country’s development.
According to an analysis by the World Bank, Indonesia is among 35 countries in the world that face a higher mortality risk because of floods, droughts, tsunamis, landslides and earthquakes. The impacts of climate change will make these hazardous events more common.
Already 40 percent of the country’s population is at risk, and the most vulnerable groups — the least well-off — are being hit hardest. Environmental damage mostly affects those who are least able to act against it.
Irresponsible production and consumption is also choking the country with waste, which is mostly dumped without proper treatment, leading pollution on land and in the water. We all saw and experienced the consequences in his month’s flood in the greater Jakarta area showed us the consequences.
Waste, both organic and non-organic, is also ruining the proud image we have of pristine rivers, shorelines and stunning beaches — the image that has made us a major international tourist attraction.
It is good that the government has set a target to reduce ocean waste volume to 30 percent and to recycle 70 percent of our waste by 2025.
Indonesia also needs urgently to find solutions to its various environmental issues, ranging from climate change impacts, crisis of energy, clean water, to deforestation.
But it’s also about us — you and me. Either as an individual or in an organization, we need to care more about the impact of what we do to our stakeholders and the environment, especially with the rising concern on climate change and waste issues. It is our generation’s responsibility to find the solution and shift the negative trend for our children and the future generations.
Many Indonesians, often those of the middle class, well-educated and connected to what happens around them, have started to realize that their daily lifestyle has an impact on the planet.
We can be proud that the younger generation, millennials and Gen-Z, in the country become more engaged and active in changing everyday habits at home or in schools and the workplace and campaigning for a green environment.
Small efforts like bringing own shopping bags and containers, drinking without straws, applying the “reduce, reuse, recycle” principle can be witnessed more and more across the country.
This growing awareness and behavioral change is encouraging and essential, but it needs to be intensified and enhanced to a bigger movement to increase the impact.
More is needed, and this movement alone will be not enough. The main issue here is that we all need to work together. The collaboration between the public and the private sector will create a strong network to combat the worsening impacts of environmental problems.
Building bridges rather than walls, and let the collaboration flourish in its all diversity, will lead innovative solutions that can turn the tide.
It is unfortunate that many companies still follow the old principles of business, focused on boosting production in various industries to make commodity exchange faster and faster, and relying on an old and tired recipe for economic growth.
Globally, there is a clear trend that the younger generation is changing, they are not accepting this anymore.
The consumers and voters of the future are deeply concerned about the environment and the world they will live in, as well as the one that our grandchildren will inherit.
Some companies see that future as well, and want to prepare for it. More than 3,000 of them have become B Corp., and earned the B Corporation certification — for businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, as well as a legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
And there is good evidence already in many countries that consumers prefer products and services from B Corp. companies.
This movement has now touched down in Indonesia, and some companies like Danone-Aqua have already joined the B Corp. Community.
We, for example, pioneered the recycling of packaging in Indonesia, starting in 1993, through a program called AquaPeduli as an initial step toward achieving a more circular packaging model.
The companies believe it is their responsibility through their businesses to bring goodness to people and planet.
President director of Danone-Aqua Indonesia and chair of EuroCham Indonesia. The views expressed are her own.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.