Environment group Walhi to form green political block

Kompas – April 26, 2006
WALHI activists celebrate anniversary of organisation (Walhi Kalteng)
WALHI activists celebrate anniversary of organisation (Walhi Kalteng)

Jakarta – The Indonesian Environment Forum (Walhi) plans to build a green political front as an alternative political force. The environmental political block will be based on popular and organised political forces.

This was one of the resolutions coming out of the Walhi’s National Environmental Consultation that was held simultaneously by 23 of Walhi’s local groups and a national public consultation in Jakarta on April 23-24.

Walhi’s executive national director, Chalid Muhammad, explained that the building of a political block does not mean that Walhi will be forming a political party. “We will only be building a counter force to press for policies to protect the environment and the people’s sovereignty over natural resources”, Muhammad told journalists on Friday April 25 in Jakarta.

In its resolution, Walhi also declared that it would endeavor to win tangable support from the public. Walhi is aware that the public’s level of knowledge and understanding of environmental issues is still low. “We are inviting society as a whole to understand the roots of environmental problems and view saving the environment as a movement struggling in cooperation and with enlightenment”, said Muhammad.

Muhammad added that Walhi wants to being a geopolitical analysis that is sharp and comprehensive to create a work orientation that stand that is systematic, directed and able to respond to the people’s needs. In addition to this said Muhammad, a strengthening of communities is need to resist corrupt practices in conservation areas and protected forests.

“We will also simplify Walhi’s statutes that are related to the institution’s principles and authority. For example by incorporating the Friends of Walhi into the organisational structure, ensuring Walhi’s independence by basing it firmly on the support of the public, or developing it’s trade wing”, explained Muhammad.

With regard to financial independence, Muhammad explained that they have already rejected offers of financial assistance from the governments of countries that violate human rights and organisations or companies that damage the environment.

One of the sources of Walhi’s funding said Muhammad, is from various parties that have become Friends of Walhi that total around 800 people. On average they donate 10,000 rupiah per month.

“With this financial independence, control of Walhi’s work will be greater so that it will push Walhi’s activists to be more systematic and rational in pushing for change”. (LAM)

[Translated by James Balowski.]