Indonesia is quite a unique country right now. It has an annual GDP growth rate that is more than double the United States, which is expected to continue rise. The middle class population is exploding and expected to be about 130 million by 2030, according to the Investment Coordinating Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BKPM) – more than double what it is today. As Indonesia’s population is growing, the need for sustainable resources and likeminded infrastructure is growing as well.
The amazing growth is both an asset and a rallying cry. The need for the implementation of policies and efforts to encourage development of sustainable sources of paper and other products is an imperative.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting on a panel titled Indonesia’s Business Dynamics in a Changing World with Dr. Muhamad Chatib Basri, Minister of Finance, Indonesia (pictured to the left), Governor Agus Martowardojo of the Bank of Indonesia, and Achmad Kurniadi, Deputy Chairman, BKPM at the Managing Risk in ASEAN conference in New York.
As I said on the panel, the time is right for Indonesia to take its place as a leader in sustainability in ASEAN and globally. It’s already started. Asia Pulp & Paper’s Forest Conservation Policy is a seismic shift in the way paper will be sourced in Indonesia and competitors in the sector have begun to follow our lead. More broadly, we’re seeing more and more companies such as MARS, Proctor & Gamble and others announce zero-deforestation policies for the souring of their raw materials. We need even more companies to take that position and for those who have made commitments to strive to beat their targets. Indonesia has a bright economic future, but it must also ensure it has a bright environmental future.
Challenges remain in Indonesia and ASEAN, but the opportunities are great too. Businesses, NGOs and governments are working hard to take concrete steps to prepare Indonesia for its role on the world stage as a leader in the world’s economy, with the recognition that economic and environmental success are one and the same – they can’t be separated. It was great to hear these high-level government officials and business leaders confirm this in our discussions.