The Jakarta Post
At the UN headquarters in New York last month, 27 states, eight subnational governments, 34 companies, 16 groups of indigenous peoples and 45 NGOs/ CSOs signed the New York declaration on forests. They promised to do their part to protect the world's forests and at the same time produce enough food for all.
Some of the civil society actors have been pushing for years. They should be applauded for their persistence. So should forward-looking countries. Indonesia is one of the pioneers.
We observed other countries from the southern part of the globe commit boldly to reduce emissions and combat deforestation. Malaysia is planning to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2020. Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, Ethiopia and Brunei Darussalam also pledged to become cleaner and greener in the foreseeable future. However, it was something else that really caught my attention: We witnessed a sea of change.
It is a proud moment for Indonesia. Some of the companies driving this movement to end deforestation are Indonesian or have large-scale operations in the country. Major players such as Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), Golden-Agri-Resources (GAR) and Wilmar have moved to the front line in promoting forest protection and sustainable development.
The change is a response to consumer and market demand for deforestation-free products. These companies have committed to ensuring that neither they nor their suppliers contribute to deforestation ' and that we as consumers can feel safe that when we eat donuts or cornflakes, both the food and the packaging will not have caused deforestation.
Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) played a key role in strengthening the commitment on zero deforestation from the world's largest palm oil producers. At the UN headquarters, the leaders of GAR, Wilmar International, Asian Agri, Cargill and Kadin signed an Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), a promise to make palm oil more sustainable in Indonesia. Globally, the commitment means approximately 60 percent of global palm oil supply will be deforestation-free.
We should commend the companies voluntarily taking on zero deforestation commitments. But governments should follow up with regulations to pull laggards in the same direction. This is an unprecedented moment of opportunity for all who want to save forests: we have the private sector on our side to fight deforestation.
Indonesia is among the first developing countries to have made a commitment to reduce pollution while sustaining economic growth back in 2009. The country has been taking a pioneering role in global environmental issues ever since. Indonesia wants to demonstrate that green development and economic growth can be combined.
Because of its bold commitment to cut its emissions, Indonesia has been at the center of global discourse on fighting climate change for a while now.
With its commitment to cut its emissions by 26 percent or by 41 percent with international support, Norway wants to support Indonesia and will contribute up to US$1 billion to support the reduction of deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia.
Most of the billion is still on the table. A lot of good planning and preparation has been done by the current government ' and we look forward to working closely with president-elect Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and his team to make sure that the Indonesian people will benefit from the Norway-Indonesia forest program. We want to work closely with the coalition of committed NGOs, governments and the private sector to create platforms for stopping deforestation on the ground.
Indonesia can show the world how a country can create green and inclusive development and at the same time conserve their valuable forests. With the private sector willing and committed, and the government ready to take the challenge, Indonesia's road to green inclusive growth is now more viable than ever.
Only few years ago, we would not have dreamed of this. Just imagine if you were to visit Jambi in 2030 to check whether APP, GAR or Wilmar have reached the target of halting deforestation, a young Suku Anak Dalam scholar who is a manager of the company might respond to your question saying, 'We have already been doing it together for 16 years and counting.'
The writer is the ambassador of Norway to Indonesia.
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