New Paths to Peace: World Wildlife Fund
Interviewed by Julian Portilla — 2003
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Q: Kristin Clay, who do you work for and what do you do?
A: I work for the World Wildlife Fund, and I am a senior program officer in our East Asia Program.
Tell me about the example about an Indonesian paper mill that was devastating the local resources and how that was leveraged into a different situation.
A: It is in a place called Tesonevu (???), Indonesia and there is a very large Asian pulp and paper company that has been decimating the forest there, there is a lot of corruption. For many years, not just us, but a variety of groups have been trying to put a stop to that with absolutely no impact because the company is so powerful that the government doesn't really have influence with the corruption. We hadn't made any headway with traditional methods and then recently WWF Indonesia actually started working with our office in Japan. Our Japan office started talking to Japanese companies who are the buyers of a lot of the wood that this Asian pulp and paper company, or APP, sells. There is a sense of environmental conservation in Japan so they were able to influence those Japanese companies to say they will not buy the wood from APP unless APP improves their practices. Not that they sit down entirely, but for example they are more careful about not accepting illegal logs. So where the logs come from. Also, the APP has agreed to set aside some areas that are really important both for the forest and for the Asian elephant, to set those aside and not touch them at all. Those Japanese companies had the market leverage to tell APP, "We won't work with you unless you change."
That was the first time that APP actually made a move, and now they have literally signed an agreement with World Wild Life Fund Indonesia saying things like, "We are going to check the source of our wood, and be careful where we get it. We are going to set aside 58,000 hectors of land for protection." There is a whole series of principles in the agreement. This is continuing even outward. The US office of WWF is talking to people like ??? and trying to get them to sign similar agreements so we can basically have this whole kind of chain link putting together people agreeing that they are going to only get their products through sources that are sustainable. This was a new approach for us, looking at the global scale to protect a site instead of just looking at the site scale, and it has proven much more effective.
Is their a relationship between those sorts of actions and activist actions to provide more sustainable logging, and things like that? Is there a link between that and peace?
A: There is, I think I brought it up the other day, partly. It is an example that in the peace field as well, we need to find those leverage points that aren't necessarily within our normal view. I was using this example for that, but part of our agreement with APP is to actually resolve some conflicts with communities, because there are also communities that live in this forest and they have issues about their forest being cut down, which is their source of livelihood, and the government is not protecting them. The APP has agreed that they will also work on some of those conflicts.