I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at the Forest Asia Summit in Jakarta, organised by CIFOR earlier this week. The Summit saw over 1,000 forestry stakeholders from governments, businesses, civil society, development organisations and the scientific community, gather to share knowledge. The focus was on how the region can accelerate the shift toward a green economy by better managing its forests and landscapes.
I was asked to speak about the role the private sector should play in delivering green growth. Below is my speech, which I delivered towards the end of the final day of the event.
THE ROLE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR IN DELIVERING GREEN GROWTH
This could not be a more topical subject for me and for APP right now.
After launching our Zero Deforestation policy in February of last year, eight days ago, we followed that up with the most far reaching and ambitious forest protection and restoration project to be attempted by any company in Indonesia, and possibly the world – 1 million hectares of forest protection and restoration in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
To put this into context, that is an area over 13 times the size of Jakarta.
So how is this relevant to the topic of green growth?
To this I would say that the private sector has to be the key driver – the catalyst if you like – of green growth.
There are several reasons why I think this is so. It can move quicker than some other stakeholders. It has landscapes in its supply chain. It has manpower. And it has capital to invest, including in capacity building. But above all, it has an incentive.
And what is that incentive? Mainly, it is other private sector players further down the supply chain – those who apply pressure through their green procurement policies, who see forest conservation as an absolute pre-requisite of doing business, and whose consumers demand it. The consumer plays a big role in re-shaping supply chains.
But the private sector cannot be the only participant. Its role may well be to kick start things, but beyond that it must work with governments and other stakeholders to bring together all the various players whose skills are needed and whose interests must be served if profitable enterprise is to sit comfortably alongside sustainable forest management and habitat conservation.
Government, conservation NGOs, civil society and communities, scientists, administrators and managers, finance experts – all these, and more, need to sit around the table.
I read that some of the key outcomes you seek from this summit are the endorsement of the landscape approach, and commitments on sustainable landscape research, investment in them, and multi stakeholder dialogue.
Well, I can tell you that the first one – the landscape approach – is an absolute for us. This is at the heart of our Forest Conservation Policy and 1m hectare restoration pledge. It cannot be done without a whole landscape approach. Land cannot effectively be protected or restored in isolation because neighbouring areas have a significant impact on any given concession.
And this cannot be done without knowledge – research and an understanding of the incredibly complex functioning of a forest. We have moved a long way already on this, but there is a lot more to do.
And yes, it costs money – I’m not in a position to give you precise figures, but it is not cheap.
Having said that, it is an investment in the real sense of the word because of the anticipated return. That return takes the form of the long term protection of our investment in pulpwood plantations. We want to continue to produce paper in fifty or one hundred years’ time, but unless we do solve the problem of deforestation now, this will not be possible. There is no greater incentive than that.
The market’s role is to recognise and reward those businesses that take ambitious steps in this direction. This has an additional benefit in that it encourages others to join in – this is effective competition.
And that is what green growth is really all about – achieving a return on investment for the companies that rely on forests for their products, at the same time as achieving a return on investment for the environment, and our forests.