CSOs take a stand on pulp

Down to Earth No. 73, May 2007

Civil society organisations concerned with the impacts of the pulp and paper industry and its fastwood plantations on people and forests have been discussing the basic demands to be made of industry and governments. Over the last five years, groups in North America followed by those in Europe have drawn up statements of agreed measures to transform the industry to direct their campaigning. Southern NGOs are now engaging in similar initiatives. Members of twenty-five Indonesian CSOs held a meeting in January this year in Riau to draft the Common Vision presented below and plan to hold a strategic follow-up meeting later this year.



Submitted and signed in Riau, Sumatra, 13th January 2007

A number of Indonesian NGOs and community organisations hereby express serious concerns about the sustainability of (the country's) natural forests. The conversion of tropical forest to industrial tree plantations (HTI) to supply the pulp and paper industry has surpassed the limits that the forests and humanity can bear. It is essential to save the remaining forests and protect local and indigenous peoples' rights in all the areas affected by pulpwood plantations and pulp and paper factories from unimaginable disaster. The use of forests to meet demand for raw materials from the pulp and paper industry in order to supply paper for international consumption has a terrible history of expropriating and violating communities' rights which has left its scars. We have seen how the workings of the market, facilitated by various government policies, have directly and indirectly brought about company practices that damage peoples' livelihoods and the environment in general.

It cannot be denied that that the pulp and paper industry provides substantial employment opportunities and government revenues at both the national and local level. However, it is patently obvious that the presence of this industry has far greater negative impacts on the surrounding community in the form of damage to the environment and society, including social conflicts and poverty.

These problems have arisen due to differences in perspectives about forest management and in the way the interests of different groups have been addressed. Concerned parties such as NGOs now have a shared vision on the reconstruction and transformation needed in the development of Indonesia's pulp and paper industry.

A number of points have been arisen as we have shared our experiences of organising advocacy and supporting affected communities through serious discussions about the pulp and paper industry. These have motivated us to take a stand together and to press for policy changes in order to stop all damaging practices and any further expansion of this industry. Over the next few years, we intend to monitor closely all policy instruments and to press for changes or revisions in these, working together in our different ways.

Based on these experiences, we have drawn up this Common Vision for Changes in Indonesia's Pulp & Paper Industry which addresses policies, the industry and social conditions.


To ensure that local and indigenous communities' rights and interests are respected and ecological priorities are protected in fulfilling demand for Indonesian paper.


1. To intervene in policy changes at local, national and international level that promote the expansion of pulpwood plantations and the pulp and paper industry in Indonesia.

2. To extend recognition of local and indigenous communities' sustainable forest practices;

3. To close down pulp and paper factories that cause environmental pollution and damage communities' interests; to oppose the construction of new plants; and to stop the expansion of pulpwood plantations.