Indonesian President: World must move to green economy & protect forests

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono plants a tree with CIFOR Director General Frances Seymour and Indonesian Forestry Ministry Zulkifli Hasan at the CIFOR campus in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia (Photo: Dita Alangkara)

BOGOR, Indonesia (13 June, 2012)_Indonesia’s president today said that the sustainable management of the world’s forests is critical for equitable economic growth and he called for a “fundamental reinvention and reorganisation of societies throughout the world”.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that Indonesia’s economy has changed from one in which forests were sacrificed in return for economic growth, to an environmentally sustainable one where forests are prized for the wide range of ecological services that they provide to society. He declared that by 2025 “no exploitation of resources should exceed its biological regenerative capacity”.

“Sustainable forestry is critical to our efforts at sustainable development as well as to our climate mitigation efforts,” the president said in a speech today at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which has its global headquarters in Bogor, Indonesia.

“Losing our tropical rain forests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster. That’s why Indonesia has reversed course by committing to sustainable forestry.”

Speaking just days ahead of the Rio+20 summit, he warned of conflict should world leaders not change the global growth model to one that is “strong, balanced and inclusive”.

“We are already seeing a worrying rise in resources competition, some of which have turned into conflict – and the possibility of war cannot be totally dismissed.”

In a welcome address, CIFOR’s Director General Frances Seymour praised Yudhoyono for his bold actions designed to reduce deforestation in Indonesia.

“You have taken political risks by stepping forward as the first head of state to make voluntary commitments to reducing climate emissions, with ambitious targets that can only be reached by reducing deforestation and forest degradation,” she said.

In 2009, Yudhoyono pledged to cut Indonesia’s carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020, and up to 41 percent with international assistance. In May of 2011, Yudhoyono signed a two-year moratorium on new forest concessions.

The President highlighted the importance of research in finding solutions to societal and environmental problems, and he lauded the importance of CIFOR’s forestry research in sustainable development and equitable growth.

For almost 20 years, CIFOR has carried out research on how Indonesia and other developing countries worldwide can sustainably manage their forests. With a global staff of almost 200, CIFOR works hand-in- hand with many national and international research organisations, government ministries, civil society groups and other organisations across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“We are encouraged by the high-level of environmental activism among governments, international organisations and NGOs in recent years,” he said. But he also called on individuals to change their behavior.

“It is the individual who will ultimately have to make the choice of what he or she will buy, eat, drink, waste or burn.  And it will not be an easy choice because more and more individuals will have greater purchasing power and the luxury of options in his life.  Unless we change the excessive consumption habit of world citizens, we will all run into a brick wall.”

Indonesia is home to the world’s third-largest area of tropical forests. Although Indonesia occupies only 1.3 percent of the world’s land surface, it has roughly 12 percent of the world’s species of mammals, 16 percent of the world’s species of reptiles and amphibians. The second longest expanse of mangrove forests in the world is stretched along its coastlines, which provide support coastal fisheries and protect communities from destructive storm surges as sea levels rise. Indonesia has 50 percent of the world’s tropical peatlands which lock up an enormous storehouse of carbon.

Yudhoyono called for the world to adopt not only an extension of the Kyoto Protocol at the next UN climate change talks in December, but take stronger action to tackle global warming.

“Climate change is man-made, and its solutions are also man-made. We must arrest the growing trend of ‘ecological footprint’ deficit worldwide.”

“We must avoid the dangerous trap of a waiting game.  Consensus building – especially on global stage – will take time to build. We know the problems. We know the solutions. We must act now.”

Click here for a transcript of the President’s speech

Click here for photos from the President’s visit to CIFOR.

 

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing countries. CIFOR helps ensure that decision-making that affects forests is based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflects the perspectives of developing countries and forest-dependent people. CIFOR is one of 15 centres within the CGIAR.


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