By Aristia Hady Wanjaya, moderator of the equitable development discussion at the youth session. Share your thoughts by commenting at the end of this blogpost!
Without equal growth and benefit sharing between private sectors, environmental and local communities, it is hard to achieve the balance of sustainability.
As the young generation, we will either be the ones to benefit from current and future development projects, or the ones to suffer the consequences of unsustainable management. However, we until now we have often faced challenges of contributing to management or decision making, as most of the forest management in Southeast Asia is based on top-down approach and dominated by older generations.
In my home in West Kalimantan, I’ve seen first hand the impacts of unsustainable forestry development. This is particularly the case in the palm oil industry. While the expansion of oil palm plantations has brought economic benefits for the private sector, these benefits often fail to trickle down into our local communities, with consequences for both social welfare and environmental protection.
For example, due to limited legal land or income opportunities, many communities are forced to follow the trends to plant oil palms by renting land and capital from private sectors, for a high price. Unfortunately, not many communities succeed in developing their plantations. In the end, the poverty level of many local communities, as well rates of deforestation, in West Kalimantan, have only increased.
Many local communities around Southeast Asia face similar challenges. We need to find a balance between conservation efforts for environmental benefits, and equitable economic development.
Recognition of this need has led us to a great number of initiatives such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).
CSR is where private sector companies recognize their social and environmental obligations, and work to foster environmental protection and social development within their business plans. In Southeast Asia, an increasing number of companies such as Asia Pulp and Paper and PT Bakrie Sumatera Plantations are now applying CSR programs. However, stated commitments to CSR often still fail to actively involve local communities or address local social or environmental needs.
PPP is a joint work between the public and private sectors (the main stakeholders), often with support from governments and organizations.
The Novella Partnership in Ghana is an example of well-implemented PPP. It is a partnership between Unilever, local communities, international and local organizations, and companies, that has transformed the unrecognized local Allanblackia brown seed production into a sustainable supply chain in Africa.
In South Sumatra, a PPP between Xylo Indra Pratama (XIP) and local landowners in has resulted in collaboration in sustainable pencil production.
It is essential for us to contribute to these (and other!) promising solutions, but how could we participate in these initiatives and ensure that it generates equal benefits for all stakeholders and our forest environments?
I believe that we, as young people, can come up with fresh and innovative ideas, will play vital roles for the future of forests.
So, I want to hear from you!
- Do you know of any examples of sustainable forest developments in your country or Southeast Asia that have successfully involved local communities?
- Whose responsibility is it to make sure that communities benefit from these projects, and that forests are managed sustainably? (government? private companies? etc)
- What is our role, as young people in our communities and countries, in encouraging or ensuring these sorts of projects?
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