Don’t Bag Indonesia’s Poor

October 2009 – Green Papers: Issue I
Wangan Maathai — the world’s first female African Nobel Prize winner and originator of the forest conservation Green Belt movement in Kenya — was recently asked on CNN what was the best way to stop deforestation. Her answer? ”Address poverty.” Forestry experts know it is the hunger of the poor for land for food, not commercial forestry, which drives deforestation. Frances Seymour, noted US environmentalist and international forest researcher told the United Nations recently that more than a decade research has found “most drivers of forest loss originate outside the forestry sector.”  Nearly half of Indonesia’s 245 million people live on less than two dollars a day. 35 million live in poverty. The Indonesian paper industry employs 400,000 workers and contributes US$5billion a year to the Indonesian economy, mostly from exports. That reduces poverty. World Growth has previously warned that these types of strategies make victims of the world’s poorest children and families. Luxury goods businesses that join the campaign will make them victims too. What would luxury good consumers in fast-growing emerging markets think?


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