Nurfika Osman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Fri, March 07 2014, 10:09 AM

Environmental damage and deforestation will continue to blight the country as policymakers are blind to — and refrain from including — environmental pledges in their political agendas, a survey said.

An Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Institute survey showed that only 7 percent of 6,561 legislativecandidates for the 2014-2019 period included the environment sector in their strategic plan agendas.

“Ecological disasters continue and natural resources are being bled dry but the environment remains a marginalized issue for most of our politicians. This indicates that the interest and power of investors is very strong in Indonesia,” Walhi executive director Abetnego Tarigan said in Jakarta on Thursday.

“We are afraid that if the people who make policies in the country are not paying attention to the environment, we are not going to be able to solve the problems in our archipelago and global issues like climate change.” 

Previously the group released data on floods, landslides and forest fires and drew attention to the fact that there had been a significant 293 percent increase from 2012 to 2103.

The group recorded 1,392 natural disasters nationwide in 2013, up from 475 cases the previous year.

West Java had the highest number of disasters last year (177), followed by Aceh (79) and East Nusa Tenggara (56).

The disasters also caused the deaths of 565 people, more than a 300 percent increase from 125 victims in 2012.
In addition, Walhi Institute senior researcher Abdul Wahib Situmorang said of the 7 percent group of candidates most were not included as the “big three candidates” on the ballot numbers, limiting their chances to be elected to the House. 

“This is very sad. Not only do we have very few legislators who care about the environment, but their chances [of being elected] are slim,” Abdul said, adding that most of the candidates were from the National Awakening Party (PKB).

According to the survey, he said, most of the 6,561 candidates prioritized corruption eradication and national development. 

In a bid to push the environment to be a priority issue in the next cabinet, Walhi has prepared a number of activities in the near future.

Next week, Abetnego said Walhi would conduct a public campaign to highlight green issues. The event is slated forMarch 11 in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X and prominent antigraft expert Saldi Isra will be among those championing environment issues during the campaign.

“This year is very crucial for the environment since every policy from the new cabinet will impact on the environment for the next five years. We are going to continue to push everyone involved in the election to think about ecology,” he added.

He also said if Indonesia remained tight lipped over green issues, the government would not be reduce green house gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020; a target that is not only essential for the country but also the world.

03/10/2014 – 10:30

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