Getting business to step up to the plate in Indonesia, by Rob Daniel

I recently spent a couple of memorable days in the heart of Sumatra with the EU ambassador and a selection of attaches from various European missions.

The focus of the visit was palm oil, and according to some local officials, how fantastic it was at enriching the lives of the local people, how it was in no way damaging to the environment.

The highlight of the trip for me was not watching the EU Ambassador murder a rendition of “A Hard Day’s Night” on the karaoke (the Indonesian officials were awesome!), but the fact that during the industry roundtable, the companies complained that sustainable palm oil was too difficult to implement because of lack of government intervention.

This was music to my ears as I have always maintained that sustainability makes good economic sense - so it doesn’t make sense for companies not to practice it, unless there are perverse incentives.

Like many countries around the world the regulatory and legislative environment often hinders rather than encourages businesses to move their operations, products and services to a lower carbon footprint. This is where ALBI comes in.

The Alliance of Low-carbon Business in Indonesia, or ALBI, funded by the FCO’s Strategic Programme Fund and managed by eUconnect Ltd, has been tasked to establish an Alliance of around 80 businesses in Indonesia who could benefit from moves towards the global low-carbon economy.

The main aim is the creation of a portfolio of recommendations to the Indonesian Government to encourage them to facilitate a rapid and predictable move to a low-carbon economy.

A great man whom I can’t remember the name of once said ”Think Big, Act Fast and Start Small”. With that in mind we selected six sectors that we thought would gain traction quickly and hence generate the critical mass needed to create a self sustaining, business-to-business interaction capable of making government take note.

These are energy, forestry, palm oil, construction, tourism and finance. Each of these sectors will get a general film about common low-carbon sectoral challenges as well as one or more pioneer profiles. The latter will showcase an Indonesian company that is embarking on the low-carbon journey. We hope that the stories told will encourage others to join up and get involved in the debate.

This is the third time I have had the pleasure of working with eUconnect whose core competence is in assembling and facilitating communities to think together about innovation and the future, as well as being an experienced digital media producer of stories that communicate options around innovation, climate change and entrepreneurship.

The library of 18 short web length films, around 6-10 minutes long, will be freely available by around April 2011, and will be downloadable from the ALBI website, which is now up and running. It is likely that they will be usable not only throughout South East Asia, where many of the business issues are common, but also in other developing countries.

Rob Daniel is Head of Climate Change Policy at the British Embassy in Jakarta

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