Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't let the financial crisis cause environmental catastrophe in Indonesia

Jakarta Post (Indonesia): The media bombardment on the global economic crisis has left us in no doubt that the impacts will be deep and far reaching. … But there's all too little mention of what this might mean for the environment.

My fear is that we are going to allow a financial crisis to turn into a ecological catastrophe. With an election looming, I am concerned that the Indonesian government will be tempted to offer short-term fixes at the long-term expense of the country's fragile ecosystems. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is going to face his biggest test. He's long espoused the importance of environmental protection and famously placed Indonesia on the map of eco-responsible states during his passionate interventions at last December's climate change convention in Bali.

….Indonesia's stunning natural environment and rich resources however, are facing sustained challenges both from natural phenomena and human activity. Mounting population pressure together with inadequate environmental management is a challenge for Indonesia that hurts the poor and the economy. Total economic losses attributable to limited access to safe water and sanitation are conservatively estimated at two percent of GDP annually, while the annual costs of air pollution to the Indonesia economy have been calculated at around US$400 million per year. These costs are disproportionately borne by the poor because they are the ones more likely to be exposed to pollution and less likely to be able to afford mitigation measures.

…The country's administrative and regulatory framework cannot yet meet the demands of sustainable development in spite of a long history of support for policy and capacity development both from within the government and with international donor support. Indonesia's ministries concerned with environment and natural resources management have benefited from good national level leadership, and also from an active network of civil society organizations throughout the country that are focused on environmental issues, with significant advocacy experience. But improving Indonesia's approach to environment and natural resources management is extremely challenging…..

A panorama in Bali, shot by *drew, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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