Jakarta– On 9 January 2004, WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia launched IndonesianEnvironmental Outlook 2004. The annual publication is aimed to inform the publicand decision makers to be able to anticipate the coming year’s environmentalcondition and its impacts on people. This year’s theme was Ongoing UnnaturalDisasters: The Regime’s Failure to Guarantee Peoples’ Safety.
“Thedocument begins with a reflection of the state of the environment in 2003 andthen takes you into a prediction of the state of the environment in 2004,”explained Hening, Disaster Management and Pollution Campaigner of WALHI. “Wealso set out the trend of disasters from 2002 – 2004, their environmental andpolicy aspects and relations, as well as the human impacts.”
WALHIreflected on government policies in 2003 with potential high impacts on thesustainability of the environment and peoples’ livelihoods. The list containedamong others the government’s orientation towards loan/debt and investmentdependent development schemes; the privatisation-oriented Water Bill, thepotential of allowing mining operations in protected forests; their questionablecommitment to forestry industry reform, and the major Ladia Galaska road projectin Aceh’s Leuser National Park.
“Whileother countries are racing against time to improve efforts towards sustainabledevelopment, the Indonesian government is literally moving backwards towardsnatural resource depletion and further degradation of peoples’ welfare,”stated Longgena Ginting, National Director of WALHI, opening the event.
WALHIalso noted that in year 2003, Indonesia suffered further from countlessdisasters, such as forest fires, flash floods and droughts.
However,the government’s approach in response to them has remained the same as inprevious years, i.e. providing post-disaster aid while blaming the disaster onfate and mother nature. The government refused to acknowledge that the disasterswere unnatural and mostly the result of severe mismanagement of Indonesia’senvironment and natural resources.
Anothercrucial feature of year 2003 was the escalation of state and military violenceagainst the people as a direct result of the major emphasis on investment andloan/debt dependent development schemes. The interests of corporations andinvestors remained top priority while the interests of citizens and indigenouscommunities got pushed down to the bottom of the list. As a result, year 2003saw a jump in the number of reports of gross human rights violations againstpeoples struggling in defense of their lives and livelihoods that have beentaken over, polluted, and destroyed by transnational corporations and badgovernment policies.
Inits prediction, WALHI underlined that as a result of the worsening of policiesand the prioritisation of the interests of capital, unnatural disasters andconflicts will continue to occur throughout 2004. Foreign debt will continue toburden peoples lives; the 2004 General Elections will not be a celebration ofdemocracy, environment, and peoples; droughts, floods, and landslides willbecome more likely; and the potential opening up of protected forests for 150mining operations will lead to another massive jump in violence and human rightsviolations against local and indigenous communities.
Inresponse, WALHI completed the report with detailed lists and maps marking theidentified potential areas for unnatural disasters, and making short- andlong-term recommendations for government action. These recommendations include amoratorium on logging and disaster management programs which include informingand helping people living in potential disaster areas to anticipate and reducedthe potential human impacts, such as the loss of lives, property, and theemergence of post disaster epidemics.
WALHI’sIndonesian Environmental Outlook 2004 is only available in Indonesian languageand can be obtained by contacting Hening :