A chance to change history
by Kumi Naidoo
October 15, 2010
I’ve arrived in Indonesia – a country at the frontier of deforestation and climate change.
Indonesia is the planet’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter, largely due to deforestation. Its indigenous communities are losing their homes and livelihoods. Its rare species, like tigers and orang-utans, are losing their habitats.
I’m here because, right now, the Indonesian and Norwegian governments have the chance to change history. They have the opportunity to set a precedent that will lead the world from impending catastrophe towards a new, green global economy.
The Norwegian government is negotiating a $1 billion deal with the government of Indonesia to protect forests and carbon-rich peatlands. If they get this deal right, it will keep natural and ancient forests standing, tigers and orang-utans alive and forest peoples thriving, as well as helping to stop catastrophic climate change.
But if they get it wrong – if current loopholes are allowed to stay in the deal – companies involved in forest destruction will be allowed to keep pulping the planet with impunity.
We want to see Indonesia benefit first from significant advances in a new green global economy. Sustainability and economic development can go hand in hand, and a sustainable palm oil and paper industry could play an important economic role in Indonesia both now and into the future. We at Greenpeace want to see Norwegian taxpayer’s money spent in the right way. We want to see a good Norwegian Indonesian initiative become a global model.
That’s why I’ve come to Indonesia to greet the Rainbow Warrior and meet leaders from across Indonesian society – government, civil society, religious leaders and industry. This is such an important opportunity, it should not be wasted.
Understandably, companies that have been exposed as making false promises on ending deforestation have bad feelings towards Greenpeace.
We challenge them to walk the talk and live up to their words.
We are also working with other local and indigenous communities to end deforestation in the Amazon, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and more recently, the Congo, in Africa. This follows the success of protection for the Great Bear rainforest in Canada. All are crucial parts of local, national, and international efforts to put the brakes on climate change and protect the diversity of life within them.
Here and around the world, the forests are disappearing, and there is no time to waste in protecting them.
Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director at Greenpeace International