Indonesian Forum Explores Business Opportunities in Sustainable
5 September 2001, Jakarta-Sustainable development can be friendly not only to
people and the environment, but also to the bottom line, according to
representatives from business, chambers of commerce, and non-governmental
organizations from south-east Asia who met in Jakarta to discuss business
opportunities, partnerships and strategies as part of preparations for next
year's World Summit for Sustainable Development that will be held in
The meeting was organized by the Indonesian government to help marshal support
in the region for initiatives that can promote sustainable development. Among
the 110 participants were representatives of Toyota, Unilever, and KADIN, the
Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.
In opening the meeting, Indonesian Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim said
that partnerships between business, NGOs and the government have helped raise
awareness of sustainable development in the wake of the economic problems
caused by the Asian financial crisis. These economic problems, he said, have
fed into poverty-related social problems and continuing environmental
"We have to fight a wrong perception," according to Ngurah Swajaya,
First Secretary at the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations.
"Sustainable development is not a burden, but it is an opportunity to
further development. It will help business gain large benefits."
With globalization and privatization making deep inroads in the ability of
governments alone to deliver on-the-ground implementation of initiatives, more
countries are looking to the private sector and other sectors of civil society
to achieve public objectives.
The purpose of the Forum, Swajaya said, was to highlight the idea that
sustainable development meant business opportunities, and to find methods for
forging lasting partnerships between business and other major groups in order
to implement Agenda 21, the definitive plan for sustainable development that
was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
The recommendations from the Jakarta forum will be reported to the regional
preparatory meeting for Asia and the Pacific for the Johannesburg Summit, to be
held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, at the end of November. Swajaya said the hope was
that at least one or two regional mechanisms could be developed during the
Johannesburg process that could address environment and development problems in
the region. Although still early in the planning stage, Swajaya said possible
efforts could include an initiative to overcome the problem of transboundary
haze that results from forest fires, efforts to address ways to exchange
information regarding cleaner energy for sustainable development, urban
planning for sustainable development and better management of marine resources.
According to Swajaya, the Business Forum was significant because it marked the
first time such an initiative was undertaken by a developing country.
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24 August 2006