Knapen speaks to NGOs about deforestation in Kalimantan

Ben Knapen, the Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, has addressed representatives of Indonesian NGOs after flying over deforested areas in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan. ‘At times it was depressing to see just how much forest has disappeared,’ he told them. ‘But I’m a lot more optimistic having heard your inspiring stories.’

Raw palm oil is a major export product for Indonesia and is used in many products that Dutch consumers buy. In his meeting, the Minister discussed sustainable palm oil and timber, and how to find a balance between economic development, the needs of the local population and the preservation of nature and the environment.

The Netherlands supports Indonesia’s local authorities in incorporating sustainable principles into their spatial planning policy. It also helps inform people about their rights, for example by supporting the Borneo Initiative, in which NGOs, businesses and the Dutch and Indonesian governments collaborate to promote sustainable production and trade.

‘Both in the Netherlands and elsewhere, consumers are increasingly switching to sustainable products, and businesses also recognise that this is the way forward,’ Mr Knapen told the NGOs. ‘We hope that we can contribute to your efforts,’ he added, ‘but you will have to take on most of the burden yourselves, together with the business community and government.’