Illegal logging is decimating Indonesia’s forests and robbing its citizens of billions of dollars a year in lost revenue. If it continues at its current rate, Indonesia’s wild forests— home to endangered species such as the Orangutan and Clouded Leopard and a vital source of clean air and water —could disappear within ten years.
In order to generate more attention to the issue, and spur more action among the people of Indonesia, AED designed a targeted campaign that revolved around the public’s moral concerns about corruption, economic injustice and poor governance rather than emphasize environmental problems which are more removed from everyday life for many Indonesians.
“The key message was: Your country is being robbed of billions of dollars a year while children live on the streets with little education and inadequate healthcare,” said Sue Lomenzo, the director of the GreenCOM project in the AED Center for Environmental Strategies. “The social marketing expertise AED brought to the project enabled us to make the connection in a way that resonated locally that this environmental issue is also a social issue.”
According to the Department of Forestry, Indonesia is losing $3.7 billion a year in revenue because of illegal logging. Moreover, the gains from illegal logging fuel further corruption and create incentives for bad policies and lawlessness. Meanwhile, Indonesia is lacking the funds it needs to provide adequate health care and education.
Based on social marketing research, AED developed a three-pronged program to address the issue of illegal logging. The project was funded by USAID, as part of GreenCOM, a global program to promote environmentally sustainable behaviors and practices. It included partners from non-governmental organizations and government agencies.
First, a mass-media campaign was launched creating a national call to action. A public service announcement entitled “Stop Forest Robbery” appeared on television, in print, and aired on the radio. National newspapers carried environmental inserts and 23 television and radio talk shows featured discussions of illegal logging with live audience participation. The campaign prompted hundreds of people to call a toll-free number for more information on the problem.
To help rural and indigenous communities contribute to the effort against illegal logging, AED created a small grants program for grassroots organizations. One such grant was used by farmers, police, and forestry officials in Sumatra to enable the three groups to work together to curb the detrimental effects of illegal logging on local irrigation systems.
An environmental group used a grant to create a video documenting the impact illegal logging has on local communities. And another grant was used to fund a series of radio talk shows on the effects of illegal logging in West Kalimantan.
In order to build public momentum and further develop local capacity for future campaigns, AED created a series of training workshops. Seventy-six local groups participated in environmental communications training, and 58 journalists were trained in environmental and investigative journalism.
Recently, Indonesia underwent a political shift away from a dictatorship and toward a democratic society. And in 2004, the country participated in its first fully democratic election in more than 30 years.
As a result of AED’s efforts in the months leading up to the election, illegal logging was covered extensively in the media Ninety percent of registered voters surveyed at the end of the campaign ranked illegal logging as an important issue in their choice of a presidential candidate.
“AED was able to help advance Indonesia's on-going process of democratization and political reform by enabling effective citizen action on a critical environmental issue." Agus Widianto, a project officers with USAID/Indonesia.
By incorporating mass media, partnerships with local groups, and training, and putting the issue into a more relevant social context, AED enabled Indonesians to better hold their elected official accountable for the decimation of their forests, and the loss of revenue for the country.
“Advocacy as we think of it in the U.S. is not commonplace in Indonesia,” said Lomenzo. “This ‘environmental’ project actually helped move the country toward a more vibrant civil society.”