Pop singer Giring Ganesha may have wowed people with his proclamation to run for president in 2024, but when he vowed to campaign on a pro-business platform to improve people’s prosperity, it came down like the Indonesian proverb “old song, new singer”.
If Giring and his Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) want to make a difference in 2024, they must pay attention to what really concerns young people nowadays: environmental conservation.
A day after the announcement, a parody account called @MayorThomasOFC (Official Fans Club) appeared on Twitter, after the fictional character of the popular Harvest Moon Back to Nature video game. Players inherit a farm from Mayor Thomas’s grandfather, and they have to revive the land and integrate the local people in the process. Mayor Thomas leads the town 14 times and his key political agenda is sustaining natural resources.
The account gained 11,000 mostly young followers after its launch on Aug. 28, attesting to its popularity. The message is loud and clear for those seeking the nation’s highest office in 2024: Environment protection will be an issue that can win you the election.
The young people will be the most affected group if we cannot protect the environment, and the world’s largest archipelagic nation is most vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by global warming and other environmental catastrophes.
In the first six months of 2020, Indonesia had 1,549 disasters ranging from landslides, floods and storms, induced mainly by climate change, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
Old voters in 2024 may be interested in the economy, but young voters are increasingly becoming restless with what is happening with the environment. And this is global.
The Friday for Future movement launched by Swedish teen sensation Greta Thunberg has galvanized young people around the globe to force politicians to take climate change seriously. The Degrowth Bewegung (Degrowth Movement) is a big ecology transformation initiative in Germany, established by young people pushing politicians to put environmental sustainability alongside economic expansion.
In the 2024 elections, ignore the young people at your own peril. Voters in the 17 to 30 years old category will account for 60 percent of voters, according to Statistics Indonesia.
Former Niji lead singer Giring is not the only politician trying to woo the young voters. The field could include Gibran Rakabumi, son of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, and Agus Harimurti, son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Here is one piece of advice to all of them: Try your hand on Harvest Moon video game to sharpen your sensitivity towards the ecology.
Mayor Thomas encourages young people/players to preserve natural resources and social heritage through farming. Players will appreciate how gardening turns land into productive farms.
Mayor Thomas forces us to respect and integrate indigenous peoples and their culture, and emphasizes that we have to take part in their traditional events and celebrations.
Contrast this to what is happening in Indonesia, where economic development constantly sacrifices the wellbeing of indigenous communities. Presidential Instruction No. 66/2020 on land procurement for development threatens some 1.62 million hectares of forest and villages belonging to 609 communities, according to the Nusantara Indigenous People Alliance (AMAN).
In 2024, presidential candidates should put ecological issues central to their platform. They can draw from the European youth climate change movements, listen more to indigenous people’s organization or even learn a thing or two from a fictional character in a video game.
In the first six months of 2020, Indonesia had 1,549 disasters ranging from landslides, floods and storms.
The writer is a feminist activist/historian who lives in Bonn, Germany. Her first book is Membicarakan Feminisme (Talking Feminism, 2019).
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.