As government officials struggle for a response to the complex problem of climate change, regular people are already fighting the good fight, Emil Salim, a prominent environmentalist, said on Tuesday.
Emil, a former environment minister and current special adviser to the president, was speaking at the launch of the book “Indonesian Eco Heroes.”
Written by Globe Asia magazine writer Gouri Mirpuri, the book tells the stories and struggles of 13 people who are working to save the environment.
Their initiatives range from small programs to a bank’s incentives for waste management, from cleaning up rivers in East Java to protecting the forests of East Kalimantan.
Other efforts include educational programs aimed at farmers to spreading the environmental message through the media.
“They are common people, not rich people, but they have a strong commitment to making Indonesia green,” Emil said.
“What this book is saying to the world is that you may have negotiations, you may have talks now in New York and you keep on talking, Copenhagen may be failing, but the battle is being fought in the field by these people. That is the clear message of the book.”
For Letdjie Taq, leader of the Dayak Wehea tribe in East Kalimantan, protecting the forest is a matter of protecting the tribe’s way of life.
“When we took the initiative to protect forest areas in Muara Wahau, it seemed normal to us, but it turned out that people thought it was very special,” Letdjie said.
“We turned former concession areas into protected areas because our lives are always connected with nature. It’s our responsibility to guard the forests because they are our source of life.”
Gouri said the book showed that Indonesians on the ground were not shying away from the seemingly insurmountable problems of environmental degradation in their communities, but were instead endeavoring to address their root causes .
“They are trying to get to the cause, like trying to find out why buildings fall down instead of just rebuilding them,” Gouri said.
She said the book was intended to serve as a platform to let more Indonesians know what other people were doing to protect the environment.
“I think we need Indonesian eco-heroes. It’s a big country, with 16,000 islands. If you get one hero on one island, it can make a difference. [This book] is about recognizing them and supporting them,” she said.
Source: Jakarta Globe
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Posted on September 25th, 2010 at 7:54 am by Ian