Once upon a time, I had no interest in being like a princess, getting rescued by a prince and living happily ever after. But, maybe I could be a little like the Lorax when I grew up. Specifically, I wanted to help tigers. I had no idea what that meant when I was little, but I kept at it and by the time I was 20 years old, I was bringing tiger cubs on television and telling whoever was watching the morning news to please, please help save endangered species. I tried to speak for the trees and animals and all those that couldn’t speak for themselves.
But, somewhere along the way, I stopped speaking out so much and started listening. A favorite part of my job/life has been listening to why people care for the earth — and often it is something personal that creates the connection, from children and future generations, to economy, to air, water, health, etc.
Last year, I worked on a collaborative listening project with nearly 150 nonprofit organizations around the world via the Environmental Paper Network. We asked one simple question, “What’s in Your Paper?” The campaign went viral, and people answered from around the globe, sharing their thoughts and concerns and why they care about all that goes in to this seemingly simple daily product that connects so many of us.
Indonesia is an important piece of the answer to the question, What’s In Your Paper?
Indonesia has always intrigued me because of the tigers, orangutans, rhinos, elephants and other amazing wild beings that live there. It is also a place that is connected to me every day, and many of us, because of the products we use and the food we eat.
You may have heard about about efforts to stop deforestation in Indonesia due to the pulp and paper industry. Or, you may have seen the devastation from the palm oil industry via the documentary series Years of Living Dangerously.
Most recently, you may have seen in the news or on your feed that suffocating haze from widespread forest fires most severe on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo blankets Southeast Asia is causing respiratory illness and death, preventing millions of children from attending school across the region and releasing more daily carbon emissions than the entire US economy. More than 1.5 million hectares of forest have burned this year.
Indonesia is a critical piece of the international effort to prevent worsening impacts of climate change.
Today, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, will make his first visit to the United States as head-of-state to meet with President Barack Obama.
“Resolving deforestation and the forest fire crisis is President Widodo’s greatest opportunity to simultaneously demonstrate the significance and value in modern global markets and politics of a rising Indonesia,” says Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network.
Would you join me in supporting President Obama and President Widodo today? For the tigers? Or, to curb worsening impacts from climate change? Or, for children, health, economy, or whatever reason is important to you personally?
With the support and assistance of President Obama and the international community, and based on popular support in Indonesia for reform, President Widodo can seize this moment and opportunity.