Indonesian People Have the Right to Obtain Benefits from Natural Resources

satunusantaranews - Jakarta. There is this US NGO, Mighty Earth, that says Indonesian businesses destroy Indonesian forests, consequently the lungs of mother Earth.

This particular Indonesian firm under attack employs directly or indirectly more than 30,000 Indonesians.

There will be serious economic and social consequences in terms of employment in local communities, their families and suppliers as well as government revenues, and of course, the possible closure of other important industrial activities related to this operation such as manufacture of plywood, oil palm farm, and lumber products forever.

This attack against Indonesian businesses, is it environment or emergence of Indonesian economy that bothers the US NGOs?

Do we really need to believe whatever these American NGOs claim when the President of the US is Donald Trump, not the most eco-friendly politician?

Does this NGO not know that the US is the only country in the world that did not join Kyoto Protocol, the UN programme that governed the global environmental issues including climate change, and that the US will pull out of Paris Accord that follows Kyoto?

The US used environmental issues and environmental NGOs to attack and successfully destroy Concord, European challenge to the American aircraft industry.Americans claimed noise coming from Concorde airplane was bad for the environment.

The US successfully attacked Japanese economy in 1970s and 1980s, and is doing the same thing to Chinese economy now.

The US attacked Korean economy when Korea emerged in 1980s and 1990s. Korea paid a dear price in 1998 with its financial crisis that many blames the US.

Indonesia is a member of G20, is emerging globally, and has one of the most important resources in the world, trees.

The US has finance and IT industry, Japan automobile and electronics industry, Korea  semi-conductor and K-pop, and Indonesia has forests and oil palm that no one can rival.

We know plastic and fossil-based utensils, tools, material, and what-not need to be replaced by wooden products, and Indonesia has those trees. 

We know forests capture carbon, which makes forests one of the, if not the, most important resources.

If economic growth and wealth creation are not achieved, there can be no social stability element and all development is frustrated. Indonesia needs to develop and protect our industry and resources. And it can be done with sustainable forest management without a deterioration of natural capital.

All these American and European NGOs appear to be against all forest conversion. But World Growth institute report in 2011 said:

Restrictions on the conversion of forest area will negatively impact economic growth and food security in Indonesia and directly impact those living in poverty. For this reason, developing countries refused to include “no conversion” in the approach to forestry and REDD at the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun in December 2010.

This Indonesian firm that is under attack built and maintains a huge Acacia and Eucalyptus plantation in Kalimantan, and has an oil palm plantation as well.

A hectare of plantation protects 100 hectares of natural forest, for it takes 100 hectares of natural forest to supply wood products that can be harvested from 1 hectare of sustainably managed plantation.

It may be beautiful for Americans to look at natural forest. If so, why don’t Americans convert their own ranches and farms back to forests other than coming to Indonesia to preach? Only 30% of the US is forests, that number is over 50% for Indonesia.

We have a very important role to play in the global economy, and that is forest management. Artificial plantations ensure sustainable development. There must be balance between economic development on the one hand and environmental protection on the other, all founded on the health of the Earth.

The economic and social damages will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars as well as the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs if this firm under Mighty Earth attack shuts down because of foreign NGOs and their Indonesian subsidiaries.

It is critical that we all are engaged and work together in good faith and in the interests of all Indonesian stakeholders, namely, the employees and their families, the Government of Indonesia, not some foreign NGOs who come to Indonesia twice a year and stay at the top hotels in Jakarta, then tell us how to protect our trees.

The people of Indonesia deserve to benefit from our natural resources and comparative advantages, of which forests are clearly one of the most important generating billion dollar of exports, 19 billion dollars per yearfor palm oil alone.

Of course, our forest management is not perfect, and has problems, as long as we manage our forests and related industries in a sustainable way for the benefit of all stakeholders as well as the investors who have put their capital at risk to make this a sustainable and profitable industry. Then we have nothing to be ashamed of, and foreign NGOs have nothing to say to us. That is the rationale and underpinning of sustainable development. (ray/ foto ist)


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