A Wellbeing Vision for Green Growth in the Heart of Borneo

Posted on 13 February 2014    
Pa' Kumap Waterfall in Ba' Kelalan, Sarawak, Malaysia, Heart of Borneo, Edwin Meru, FORMADAT
Pa' Kumap Waterfall in Ba' Kelalan, Sarawak, Malaysia
© Edwin Meru/FORMADAT
By: Cristina Eghenter

Today, countries around the world are facing what are really two sides of the same challenge. On the one hand, foster development to close the widening gap between rich and poor, and richer and poorer countries. On the other hand, limit excessive consumption and exploitation in order to manage effectively and equitably the competing human demands on land, water, and ecosystem services. A different vision of growth, one that is fair, inclusive and within planetary boundaries is critical to meet the energy, food and water needs, especially of the most vulnerable and marginalized. Equitable governance of natural resources is a key part of the structural transformation that has to happen to secure future sustainability and prosperity for all.
“Green economy” as an environment-based approach to economic development calls for a shift in the economic paradigm with emphasis on: 
  • Valuing the natural capital and factoring it in as a means of production; 
  • Changing the flow of financial investment, fiscal reform and technological transfer to support sustainable growth, green jobs, and create conditions for low-carbon economy;
  • Restoring equitable conditions, strengthening human and social capital, and securing good livelihoods for all.
The last point was the object of a two-day WWF Regional Workshop organized by Asia Pacific SD4C Regional Network in Jakarta (1-2 April 2013) on the linkages between Sustainable Livelihoods and Green Economies for rural wellbeing in Asia. The discussion helped raise key questions and reaffirm that there cannot be just ‘one’ model of green economy. The micro-economic or field level elements of the SL framework can and should be accommodated within the GE macro- economic framework. Communities that are well educated and have reliable sources of income and equal rights will be much stronger social and economic actors. Rural communities are also likely to be more resilient if they have a broader range of sustainable livelihood systems.
In HoB, the GE roadmap (Heart of Borneo Initiative, 2013) highlights the importance of incentives, disincentives, and green taxes for companies to maintain sustainability in production and environmental balance of  high impact sectors  such as timber, oil palm and, increasingly, mining. More with regard to the social and equity delivery of GE 
the GE roadmap emphasizes: 
  • Good governance, transparency and accountability in natural resource management;
  • Social and environmental assessment;
  • Participation of local people.
In the Heart of Borneo, with its high natural and social capital, and the development needs of isolated areas that were often neglected by national agendas, a GE for wellbeing must be able to integrate the economies at village level in order to secure good livelihoods for the rural poor, and forest communities. Compensatory and distributional mechanisms of the economy need special attention in situations where there is an inequity gap or development has lagged behind. 
Strategies of engagement must reach out to the diversity of social actors and civil society to make them part of defining pro-poor and pro-green economy roadmaps. This includes rooting  green economy into local reality and making use of innovation and appropriate technology. Community-based ecotourism, agroforestry, wild honey production and NTFP certification, small-holding rubber production, are some, promising economic, community enterprises that can work as they are built on two main elements: respect of local cultural and social values, and traditional practices; local ownership and good business sense with sound valuation of how to harness natural capital and ecosystem services in sustainable ways.  
Green economy and local livelihoods need to come closer together for sustainable development in much of the rural reality of the Heart of Borneo, including along international border between Indonesia and Malaysia.
Pa' Kumap Waterfall in Ba' Kelalan, Sarawak, Malaysia, Heart of Borneo, Edwin Meru, FORMADAT
Pa' Kumap Waterfall in Ba' Kelalan, Sarawak, Malaysia
© Edwin Meru/FORMADAT Enlarge
Trees on the climb up Bukit Peninjau, West Kalimantan
© WWF-Indonesia / Jane Spence Enlarge

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