The 5th Asia-Pacific Business & Sustainability Council (APBSC) forum on “Green Business, Best Practices” was held on the 29th and 30th May in Jakarta, Indonesia. In the past decade, Indonesia has seen its economy surge, bolstered by its copper, tin and nickel mines, oil and gas reserves, as well as the agribusiness sector such as palm oil, cocoa and coffee. The world is clamoring for the island nation’s concessions and commodities — especially regional powerhouses India and China to fuel their respective growth machines — and the country is at a crossroads in its development efforts.
The forum highlighted the real issues that are being decided in this rapidly developing region of the world, with Indonesia’s growth and challenges in sustainability serving as the focus. With Indonesia’s stated aspiration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% before 2020, the government is attempting to rein in deforestation and encourage the utilization of low-carbon emission technologies and the development of low-carbon business models, while simultaneously addressing the food, fiber and fuel needs of its people and industry.
The forum was hosted by Medco Energi, a member of the APBSC, and co-hosted by APINDO (the Employer’s Association of Indonesia) and the Prasetiya Mulya Business School (PMBS), which is Indonesia’s oldest and most established University for Business Education. This is the first time the APBSC has included academia as a partner in its efforts to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas on sustainability. With its mission to inform and educate current and future business leaders in Indonesia, and an impressive campus and facility, the business school was an apt host and provided the perfect venue for this event.
Attended by approximately 100 participants representing corporations based in Indonesia as well as multinationals with operational and sourcing interests in this region, the event was given a powerful start with a keynote speech by Sofjan Wanandi, head of APINDO and founder of the Gemala group, who highlighted the economic situation faced by Indonesia. Vic Arrington, the senior vice-president of CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business, and Djisman Simandjuntak, the Chair of the Prasetiya Mulya Foundation, opened the forum before introducing a thought-provoking panel discussion on macro-trends effecting sustainability efforts in the region. The panelists of experts included representatives from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, PMBS, Lux Research and KADIN, the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce.
The afternoon panel session saw case study presentations from three different industries; energy (BHP Billiton), agribusiness (Monsanto) and manufacturing (Indocement), providing examples of how businesses are embracing sustainability and mitigating their effects on the environment. Participants also had the opportunity to have more in-depth discussions in breakout sessions that were divided by industry.
On the second day of the forum, CI’s Toby Janson Smith gave an overview of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation "plus" conservation) and explained how a truly well designed and established REDD+ initiative could help Indonesia develop, while simultaneously decreasing the pressure on forest systems and biodiversity. A teaser on new technological innovations in various industrial verticals and their potential promise for corporations to adopt some of them to improve their own business operations as well as to reduce their environmental footprint was provided by Will Polese of Lux Research, with the final session of the forum dealt with the Sustainable Landscapes Partnership (SLP) program in Indonesia. Jim Peters highlighted the need for an initiative such as the SLP within Indonesia, a U.S. $20 million public-private venture that seeks to establish low carbon business models and develop market mechanisms for furthering green growth and provide for local livelihoods.
As the home to the third largest tropical forest on the planet — juxtaposed with the food, water, and energy demands of its growing population — Indonesia will need to work in cooperation with the private sector in order to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to grow its economy.
Kashyap Choksi is the Managing Director of CI-Singapore