Last week saw great news from Jakarta as one of the biggest paper producers on the planet, APP, announced it had stopped clearing natural forests in Indonesia earlier than they’d originally agreed. The cut-off point was set for 2015 but buyers’ increasing demand for better environmental standards has brought the decision forward.
Better still the decision might have broader implications. With a bit of luck it might ultimately affect Indonesia’s palm oil and mining industries too, leading to a faster than expected withdrawal from the country’s spectacularly beautiful and precious natural rainforests. As Scott Poynton of the Forest Trust said in response to the news, “there’s no reason why any company anywhere in the world can’t do this.”
Suppliers, investors and consumers are more interested than ever in the source of the goods they buy and the ethics of the organisations they interact with. Because economic demand is one of the most powerful drivers for changing behaviour, APP’s decision is also being taken as a sign that public pressure is having a noticeable effect.
It’s also great news for local wildlife. The company has been accused of fuelling climate change and endangering the future of increasingly rare Sumatran tigers, orang-utans and elephants, with increasing rainforest deforestation wrecking the areas where they live.
There’s only one potential snag. While environmental campaigners welcome the decision with open arms, APP had made and broken similar promises in the past, at least three times. But because the organisation’s long term fortunes depend on convincing its market it has changed its ways, there’s hope it’ll actually happen this time. Watch this space.