The Jakarta Post
The government will engage the US through a business forum to fight deforestation, reduce carbon emissions and increase trade.
Kerri-Ann Jones, US assistant secretary of state for oceans, international environmental and scientific affairs, said during her visit to the Forestry Ministry on Monday that a Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) dialogue ' formed through a public-private partnership (PPP) ' would address deforestation associated with the sourcing of commodities such as palm oil, paper and pulp.
Current TFA 2020 membership includes the Consumer Goods Forum ' a network of over 400 companies with annual sales topping US$3 trillion ' and the governments of the US, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.
'When we are thinking about economic growth, the private sector must be a strong partner,' Jones told reporters after the meeting.
She said she expected that the US' partnership with Indonesia ' and other countries ' would ensure that private sectors 'really try to find creative solutions for the people whose lives depend on the forest'.
Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said the TFA meeting, which is slated for June 27-29, was expected to expand Indonesia's market to the US, where there was more demanded for environmentally friendly products.
He said the ministry expected the meeting would result in business-to-business (B2B) cooperation and a scheme to conduct 'green' bilateral trade.
'We cannot stop palm oil or pulp and paper companies from expanding their businesses with growing population and demands. What we can do is balance between economic growth and sustainability and ensure consumers that we are providing green products,' Hadi said.
He said considering the US' absence from the Kyoto Protocol, the discussion might be a soft approach by the US to fight deforestation and reduce carbon emissions, with the superpower country probably using Indonesia to buffer China's dominance in the region.
The US rejected the Kyoto Protocol because it did not impose any binding commitments on major developing countries like China ' now the world's number one carbon emitter.
'The meeting can be an incentive for us to develop a pro-environment economy and at the same time
provide a bigger market for our products,' he said.
Indonesia, which in 2009 committed to reducing its carbon emissions by up to 26 percent by 2020, has carried out various efforts to encourage companies to engage in environmentally sustainable production.
Timber-related companies have been required to obtain legal timber certification (SVLK) since 2010, to ensure the products were legally sourced.
The Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) scheme addresses concerns over deforestation and the
destruction of carbon-rich peat land, due to the expansion of oil palm plantations.
Indonesia's exports of forest-related products reached $1.02 million in the first quarter of this year, with the US being the third-biggest importer after China and Japan.