The non-governmental organisations (NGO) Nexus3 Foundation from Indonesia and Arnika from the Czech Republic have launched a new project aiming to help with controlling and fighting industrial pollution in Indonesia. The goal of the three-year project, which is co-funded by the European Union (EU), is to establish an NGO network for pollution monitoring in the country and thereby boost the role of civil society in preventing toxic pollution and its impact on human health.
In the last decades, air, water and soil pollution with associated health consequences and premature deaths, have been on the rise in many Indonesian pollution hotspots. The pollution stemming from economic and industrial growth has not always been paired with adequate regulations that would prevent harm to health and environment. The experts from the project see the possible solution in the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR), which is already used in Europe, as a tool for Indonesia to address pollution.
“Pollutant Release and Transfer Register is a very special database showing quite clearly pollution released by point source polluters, and industrial facilities in particular. It helped to substantially decrease the amount of pollutants released in many countries. We believe that it is a very good tool for Indonesia to address pollution, and we are very excited to work with our Indonesian colleagues on promoting this good practice and tool,” explained Jindrich Petrlik, head of Arnika's Toxics and Waste Programme.
The environmental health impacts on local communities and its scale is widely underreported. Civil society is lacking tools on how to change this. Therefore, an important focus of the project, next to establishing a monitoring network and demanding systematic changes in pollution control, is increasing the ability of Indonesian citizens to collect, access, understand and use data on toxic pollution in policy dialogue.
“This project is very appropriate for the current situation in Indonesia, especially in the context of monitoring of hazardous waste and toxic pollution by civil society and the impacted community,” said Yuyun Ismawati, Senior Advisor of the Nexus3 Foundation. “In many cases, the monitoring and observation reports of civil society helped push the government to respond and tackle the pollution immediately. The project will strengthen the positive community contributions to prevent the adverse effects of pollution,” added Ismawati.
The three-year project “Transparent Pollution Control in Indonesia” which runs from March 2021 until February 2024 received financial support from the EU. “Sustainable production should be a corner stone of economic development anywhere in the world. Everybody, from producers to consumers, needs to contribute to the green transition. In the EU we are rolling out the Green Deal policy for that. It will make our society carbon-neutral and sustainable by 2050. This project will bring together EU and Indonesian civil society and policy makers to share best practices and exchange knowhow from Europe to Indonesia,” said EU Ambassador to Indonesia Vincent Piket.
"As a representative of the National Development Planning Board, I welcome this initiative. This project will be in line with what we are doing through government programs and mega projects. I hope this project will help control pollution so that brown issues will increasingly appear on the radar. I feel that lately, brown issues are left behind," said Dr Medrilzam, Director of the Environment, Ministry of National Development Planning/ National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), Indonesia.
"We at Bappenas have included a related agenda in the 2020-2024 national mid-term development plan to prevent environmental damage through several preventive measures such as monitoring, establishing solid institutions, and strong law enforcement. Support from civil society will strengthen the achievement of national development goals," he added.
"The initiative to develop Transparency Control of Pollution with the PRTR approach in Indonesia comes at the right time. Like it or not, in the future, Indonesia must face the increasing threat of pollution, including hazardous toxic materials which mainly come from industry," said Ahmad Ashov Birry, Trend Asia Program Director.
"Disclosure of pollution information using the PRTR approach can help reduce B3 pollution and at the same time encourage the industry to continue to innovate towards cleaner production. Further, the disclosure of pollution information will also encourage active community participation and establish proactive communication between stakeholders, including industry," added Ashov.
"As a society, we must seek information about pollution conditions from various sources. With this civil society initiative, we hope that there will be synergy with the government because people have the right to know what activities are taking place around them, their impacts and risks," said Nur Hidayati (Yaya) from WALHI Nasional.
"Based on the experience in Indonesia, the government alone is not sufficient to oversee industrial activities that have an impact on the environment and public health. We welcome this project, and we are ready to work together to improve the situation of environmental quality in Indonesia," added Yaya.