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Growing Concern Over Indonesian President’s Investment Remarks

Project: Building Climate Resiliency in Indonesia

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Image result for deforestation in indonesia
Palm oil deforestation in Indonesia

As the 2019 Indonesia Accelerator in Bali moves into its third day of local women environmental leaders collaborating to find solutions to the ecological crises facing their communities, Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo pursues an aggressive, exploitative resource policy approach which threatens indigenous communities, environmental activists, and Indonesia’s famed tropical rainforests. 

In a July 14th speech, Widodo outlined his goals towards investment in Indonesia:

“This is how we create as many jobs as possible. Therefore, anything that obstructs investment must be trimmed….Be careful, going forward I guarantee that I will chase, I will control, I will check and I will beat [them] up if necessary! There should no longer be any obstructions to investment because this is the key to creating more jobs.”

Playing to a false narrative that economic development requires lenient or absent policies and regulations that protect some of our most precious resources, Widodo’s attempts to prioritize investment in Indonesia at the expense of the environment contribute to resource exploitation that has a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. Already, Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, the most commonly produced vegetable oil, but huge tracts of rainforest and indigenous land are razed daily for the palm oil industry, releasing massive quantities of carbon. In 2015, Indonesia passed the US in greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia also is the second largest plastic polluter in the world with a total of 3.2 million metric tons of plastic waste. Despite these devastating numbers, Widodo has urged high-level officials to turn a blind eye to regulations for the sake of increased GDP, which he promised to raise by 7% during his campaign.

As this article via Mongabay shares, The language used [in Widodo’s speech] has raised concerns among environmental and indigenous rights activists, who say there are plenty of justifiable reasons to oppose or at least slow down development projects that involve the clearing of forests and customary lands.”

A recent government-sanctioned report shows that if Indonesia continues to exploit its natural resources by cutting down trees and digging up coal to power its cities and villages, its environment will reach a tipping point beyond which the economy will suffer, with an attendant increase in poverty and mortality rates and a decline in human development.

Furthermore, this policy shift effectively reverses Widodo’s social forestry program, which sought to resolve land disputes Indonesia through distribution of titles. This program, initially well-received by the indigenous communities, resulted in bureaucratic roadblocks which obstructed indigenous Indonesian’s access to reclaiming their land rights. 

WEA recognizes the dangers of unrestricted access to commercial land rights in Indonesia, as the palm oil and mining industries have already ravaged the nation with deforestation, among other environmental crises. These are some of the reasons we launched the 2019 Women’s Earth Alliance Accelerator in partnership with Indonesia organizations For Good, Mother Jungle and Ranu Welum; women in Indonesia experience the brunt of these climate disruptions, and therefore step forward as key leaders in designing solutions to these critical issues. We hope that in connecting these grassroots women environmental activists and equipping them with the tools to protect their communities and the environment, an “unclobberable” force will be created. 

Read the entire article from Mongabay here.

WEA Women of the 2019 Indonesia Accelerator: Putu Ayu Aniek

Project: Building Climate Resiliency in Indonesia

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Putu Ayu Aniek is a community organizer from Bali, Indonesia. Growing up in Bali, Aniek felt first-hand the growing impact of tourism on her community. Realizing how tourism could easily degrade the culture and people of her community, she has made it her mission to create a more holistic and sustainable avenue for tourism in her hometown. As the Project Lead for Kelecung Kelod Tourism, she works closely with members of her community as a leader to create experiences for tourists that highlight the natural beauty of her village, while also preserving the local culture and protecting natural resources.

In addition to ecotourism, Aniek is passionate about empowering and educating the women and children of her community. In her training programs she emphasizes sustainable living in the hopes of generating greater awareness around the importance of preserving the environment and the role it plays in her community’s lives and livelihoods. As Aniek’s message spreads throughout her community, she recognizes the need to develop certain skills and knowledge in order to extend her efforts. 

In this spirit of growth, Aniek is participating in the 2019 Indonesia Women’s Earth Alliance. The Accelerator will provide her with opportunities to expand her knowledge on environmental technologies, networks, and support that can strengthen her ability as an advocate to create even more positive change in her community and beyond. While participating in online skill-building, working groups, and collaborations with other leaders and advocates, Aniek will build a network of allies that will support and empower her efforts to continue fomenting change in the sustainable tourism industry in her community in Bali. 

After the accelerator, Aniek will return to her community with new strategies for community engagement, knowledge to share, and a heightened ability to engage those around her to further the sustainability and equality of her community.

Read more about the 2019 Indonesia Women’s Earth Alliance Accelerator, and stay updated on how the women leaders are doing on the WEA-Indonesia Facebook page

WEA Women of the 2019 Indonesia Accelerator: Rubama

Project: Building Climate Resiliency in Indonesia

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Rubama is a community organizer from Aceh, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. She has worked for fourteen years to engage the women of her community in an effort to protect the natural resources of the region. 

After her region was ravaged by a tsunami in 2004, Rubama recognized how the approach to disaster relief resulted in the degradation of the community social fabric and values, and how women became an increasingly vulnerable group in an already patriarchal society. Equipped with a vision and her personal mission of community resilience, Rubama strove to regain social cohesion while promoting sustainability and created a waste management program for her village. She continues to develop this resilience through her current work at the Gampong Nusa community, which she has transformed into a sustainable tourism destination. Rubama has advocated for the local community to adopt sustainable waste management, has trained women about upcycling plastic waste and composting, and has developed alternative economic revenue for the local community.

As an organizer, she is deeply passionate about establishing ecological justice based on gender-equality in her community. Working alongside other women in Aceh, Rubama collaborates with and trains them in creating handiwork, growing produce, and upcycling. Rubama also gives local women’s groups the platform they need in order to voice their concerns and fight for their rights in realizing ecological justice. She promotes social forestry, a village forest strategy which includes and encourages women’s engagement in discussing issues that disproportionately impact them. In this spirit, Rubama serves as a program officer for HAkA, an Aceh-based NGO working to restore the forest and protect the overall environment.

Rubama is furthering her advocacy work through networking and education, and will be apart of the 2019 Women’s Earth Alliance Indonesia Accelerator. She hopes to gain knowledge on project management tools and avenues of impact assessment to help strengthen her existing community organization skills. During this accelerator WEA will work with Rubama, along with her women leader peers, to develop strategies for effective communication, resource mobilization, and leadership, that will expand the reach and scale of their advocacy work. With this gained support and knowledge from the accelerator, Rubama will be able to return to Aceh with tools to advance her vision of gender-equality based ecological justice for her entire community, as well as a developed network to support and scale the impact of her work. 

Read more about the 2019 Indonesia Women’s Earth Alliance Accelerator, and stay updated on how the women leaders are doing on the WEA-Indonesia Facebook page.

WEA Women of the 2019 Indonesia Accelerator: Raihal Fajri

Project: Building Climate Resiliency in Indonesia

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Raihal Fajri is an activist from Aceh, Meunasah Manyang, Indonesia. After a tsunami devastated her region in 2004, Raihal witnessed a drastic deterioration in the quality of water coming from her community’s water source, which was located next to a nearby concrete mine. Noticing the way this pollution harmed the women and children of her area, she decided to take urgent action, engaging stakeholders such as the cement mine leadership, the government, and the media in the conversation. Furthermore, Raihal comes from a predominantly Muslim region which is governed by Sharia law, and she recognized the critical necessity of engaging her community’s religious leadership in order to make change possible.

By highlighting the connection between the Qur’an’s teachings and the importance of maintaining a healthy environment, Raihal garnered the support she needed to step into leadership and eventually mobilized her entire community around the issue. Her activism brought substantial attention to the mining pollution her community faced, and she succeeded in revoking the mine’s permission to operate.

Since then, Raihal has strived to find ways to extend her network and cultivate her advocacy around the need for a safe and healthy environment. Raihal currently serves as the Executive Director of the Kahati Institute, where she uses her experience as a mediator, analyst, and leader to influence public policy and encourage transparency in the environmental sector.

As a member of the 2019 Indonesia Women’s Earth Alliance Accelerator, Raihal will receive facilitated skill-building, knowledge exchanges with other leading environmental advocates like her, and work with groups that will dig deeper into environmental technologies, networks, and communities of practice from which she can draw in her activism. With this training and support system, Raihal will return to Aceh with a deeper understanding of how to best build her network and bring about policy changes that will ensure clean water and a healthier environment for her community and region. 

Read more about the 2019 Indonesia Women’s Earth Alliance Accelerator, and stay updated on how the women leaders are doing on the WEA-Indonesia Facebook page.