We are currently five months away from the seminal COP 21 Summit in Paris, and five years off our 2020 target date of reducing GHG emissions by 26% through our nation’s own efforts, or by 41% with international co-operation. At this point we must ask ourselves what we have achieved so far, what more must be done and how best we approach it.

Last week, I had the privilege of appearing alongside the South Sumatra Government to pledge our support in addressing deforestation and reducing GHG emissions through a multi-stakeholder approach. Together with a range of different stakeholders, including representatives from the Government of Indonesia, partner countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway, communities, the private sector and NGOs, we gathered at the High Level Stakeholders Forum for Sustainable Landscape Approach to form one partnership to develop a GHG reduction model that is effective, integrated and comprehensive. 

During the event, a pledge to support the implementation of the South Sumatra landscape approach was signed by the partners in the landscape such as APP, Zoological Society of London (ZSL), IDH Sustainable Brands, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and The UK Climate Change Unit (UKCCU), as well as the climate change leaders within the Government, Nur Masripatin, Director General of Climate Change Control, Ministry of Environment and Forestry Republic of Indonesia, Rachmat Witoelar, President’s Special Envoy on Climate Change and Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, Head of Climate Change Advisory Board.

As we emphasised while signing the pledge for the South Sumatra landscape approach: achieving zero deforestation in Indonesia requires everyone – government, private sector and civil society – working together. This must cover three aspects – jurisdictional strategies and solutions to halt deforestation; a forest and peatland landscape approach; and effective public-private sector partnerships. Together with other partners, we are working to create the model in South Sumatra to be replicated elsewhere across Indonesia and ultimately other tropical forest countries around the world.

From our own perspective, as one of the stakeholders operating in this landscape, we have been closely involved in implementing long-term solutions to reduce GHG emissions in South Sumatra. We know from our past experience that in addition to working with central Government, it is vital to partner with provincial and local governments to make an impact on the ground. 

Now in our third year of implementing our Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), and having recently published our FCP Implementation Plan: 2015 and Beyond, which followed the independent evaluation of the FCP by Rainforest Alliance, we have worked intensively to draw up a landscape master-plan across our operations in Sumatra and Kalimantan. This work is crucial in defining the landscape and contributing to clearer spatial planning in the region, allowing stakeholders in the area to understand the boundaries they are operating within.

We have also recently embarked on a new, two-year project with independent researchers Deltares to establish best practice in peat management. This multi-million dollar project, involving the detailed 3D scanning of 4.5 million hectares of Sumatran peatland using innovative LiDAR technology marks the first project of this scale to be introduced anywhere in the world. With emissions from peat soils contributing to 60% of Indonesian CO2 emissions, this work will prove invaluable in helping Indonesia to meet its targets.

As we advance closer to our 2020 target date, and even closer to COP 21, where the eyes of the world will be on Indonesia’s policymakers, businesses and NGOs to demonstrate progress on our environmental pledges, we must recognise the power and importance of collaboration.

We have long championed the multi-stakeholder approach in order to achieve true, lasting change in forest conservation; we simply do not have all expertise and capacity to implement this landscape approach alone. This is why we partner with critical friends, such as NGOs to implement our action plan to tackle deforestation in the landscape we are operating in, and beyond, across the region. We know that we need to consider the viability, responsible management and the sustainability of the entire landscape, and encourage all interested parties to be involved in finding a solution.

To do this we must develop effective, clear mechanisms for stakeholders to engage with the issue, to understand their roles and responsibility in managing the landscape – from the businesses who oversee the concessions to governments and policy makers addressing the broad challenge of climate change, funding organizations, and the communities and NGOs on the ground. 

At times, we have to be able to think outside of the box. As the Head of Climate Change Advisory Board put it in his speech during the launch of South Sumatra landscape approach this week: “Fortune favours the brave!”

Aida Greenbury is the managing director of sustainability at Asia Pulp & Paper.

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