RI is "environmental superpower": US envoy
23rd April 2008
Jakarta (ANTARA News) -
In observance of Earth Day, US Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron R. Hume has written an article titled "Indonesia: Environmental Superpower". Following is his article sent to ANTARA on Tuesday:Anyone who happened to go by the U.S. Embassy over the past few days might have noticed changes.
On Saturday, a group of Indonesian children helped put the finishing touches on seven different murals depicting some of the flora and fauna of Indonesia. I am proud to have their paintings displayed outside the Embassy, and glad to see that they are thinking of the environment at a young age.
Today is Earth Day, and it is important to take stock of what we are doing to protect these children`s future environment. Indonesia was a fitting host for the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, in part because its rich biodiversity and natural resources are unsurpassed.
Indonesia possesses the highest marine biodiversity on the planet, and one of the largest and most biodiverse tropical forests in the world. Indonesia is an environmental "superpower," and a natural leader in global efforts to protect the environment. Yet the country faces tremendous challenges to ensure that the next generation will inherit these vast environmental riches.
Indonesia is the world`s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, due mainly to large-scale deforestation. Illegal logging is widespread. Energy needs and emissions from power generation and transportation are rising fast.
The destruction of coral reefs, overfishing, and other unsustainable practices threaten the livelihoods and welfare of tens of millions of Indonesians who depend on the ocean`s resources, as well as irreparable damage to Indonesia`s unique ecosystems.Indonesia is taking steps to face these challenges.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Government of Indonesia are cracking down on illegal logging and taking action to improve forest governance. They are in the process of implementing a new timber legality standard that will constrict trade in illegally harvested timber. They have launched a National Climate Change Action Plan and a National Action Plan for the Orangutan Protection.
Recognizing the importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability due to climate change and unsustainable exploitation, President Yudhoyono also launched the regional Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) during the Bali conference.
Fittingly, 2008 is the International Year of the Reef. Much work remains. Protecting our planet is a long-term, cooperative endeavor. The United States can be Indonesia`s "super-partner", and President Yudhoyono has invited increased U.S. environmental partnership. We already collaborate on anti-illegal logging activities, and support the Heart of Borneo Initiative to protect the forest habitat in Kalimantan.
We work together to protect endangered orangutans. Our two governments are negotiating a large fund to conserve tropical forests, under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. We already fund marine programs in Indonesia and the region, and have pledged initial support of over $4 million to the Coral Triangle Initiative.Indonesia needs electricity to grow, but it should use clean-coal and renewable energy technologies to meet its rapidly increasing energy needs.
Indonesia can retrofit existing "dirty" electricity-generating coal plants, build new, cleaner ones, and harness Indonesia`s potential 27,000 megawatt geothermal capacity. The Clean Technology Fund that President Bush announced last year, and which the United States is developing in cooperation with the World Bank, Japan, the United Kingdom, and other partners, has the potential to be an important tool in dealing with the clean energy challenge.Working together, we can protect rainforests, conserve biodiversity, avoid the collapse of global fisheries, and combat climate change. The challenges are great, but our cooperation shows great promise for the future.
On this Earth Day, let us remind ourselves that we are all connected. How Indonesia and the U.S. treat their forests and oceans will affect the rest of the world, and all of our children`s futures. (*)