The Jakarta Post
Activists have lambasted the Environmental Performance Rating Program (PROPER), in which the Environment and Forestry Ministry awards firms for their compliance with environmental regulations and innovation in green technology.
Greenpeace Indonesia said on Wednesday that the program was merely a gimmick aimed at making firms appear more environmentally friendly than they actually were.
'The criteria [for companies to get the award] have long been unclear. It is only used as a greenwashing event for firms,' Greenpeace Indonesia's climate and energy division head Arif Fiyanto told The Jakarta Post.
The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said the awards were dubious given that mining companies dominated the list of gold label winners.
'Ethically and morally, they don't deserve [to be included in the program]. How could we ever say they are sustainable when all they leave are holes? Whatever else the mining industry is, its environmental impact is tremendous,' Walhi chairman Abetnego Tarigan told the Post.
He pointed out how green companies were usually those from outside the extractive industry, such as IT companies.
The ministry has five classifications; gold, green, blue, red and black. Gold is the highest raking and is awarded to companies that can maintain good waste-disposal practices for a minimum of three consecutive years.
Red is given to companies that do not follow environmental standards, while black is for companies that damage the environment, either deliberately or unintentionally.
This year, nine firms were awarded gold labels, including state-owned coal miner PT Bukit Asam, PT Medco E&P Indonesia, liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer PT Badak NGL and Chevron Geothermal Indonesia. They were also last year's winners.
'Companies that are clearly destructive [of the environment] can get gold labels, where's the logic in that?' Arif said.
Abetnego said that the ministry had to be transparent in the judging process as well as the budgeting of the program in order for it to be accountable and credible.
'The budgeting issue is a concern because it is related to who has an interest in it. If it is funded by firms, then they have an interest,' he said.
Walhi campaigner Edo Rakhman said the award was prone to graft and conflicts of interest.
'What companies do not want to get good assessments? Of course they will try by all means necessary to get a good review,' he said.
In order to avoid undue influence by firms, the ministry should include the participation of the public in reviewing the firms, he added.
'How far is the involvement of the people living near these firms as well as those affected by their operations considered?' Abetnego said.
Likewise, Arif said that since PROPER started 20 years ago, the ministry had not involved the public.
'They never involve parties outside the government, which is why the award is only a bilateral affair between the government and industry,' he said.
This year, the ministry surveyed 1,908 companies in manufacturing, mining, energy and petroleum, agro industry and services, with 21 issued with black labels, 516 with red labels, 1,224 with blue labels and 121 companies with green labels.
The 21 companies were labeled black for polluting the environment and not being able to meet environmental standards set by the ministry.
The list is dominated by hospitals, with nine hospitals located in Bekasi, Toraja Utara, Mataram, Medan, Sidrap, Poso, Lombok Tengah, Jambi, Mataram and Mamuju, making up the list.
Infant formula producer PT Nutricia Indonesia Sejahtera was also slapped with a black label.
Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said the PROPER award was funded by the state budget and thus free from any influence.
'The team that assesses the firms is independent and uses strict criteria,' she told the Post. 'I hope our friends don't automatically think the worst.'
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