Green economy approach shows hope for Borneo amidst floundering Rio+20 talks | WWF

Green economy approach shows hope for Borneo amidst floundering Rio+20 talks

Posted on 21 June 2012    
The Orang Utan, one of the inhabitants in the Heart of Borneo
© Alain Compost/WWF
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – As world leaders meet amidst a gloomy forecast for a meaningful outcome of the Rio+20 Earth Summit this week, WWF is releasing a green economy report at the biggest-ever UN event that offers sustainability solutions for our ailing planet.

The Heart of Borneo (HoB): Investing in Nature for a Green Economy Report is a practical regional guide on how future economic growth can be achieved while protecting the values of ecosystems and biodiversity of the Heart of Borneo - a 220,000km2 treasure trove of unique and often endangered animal and plants species, on the world’s third biggest island.

Produced by WWF and a consortium of partners, the report highlights environmental costs and forgone revenues in the current economy and shows how valuing ‘natural capital’ supports the long-term stability and development of local economies in Borneo.

“The HoB’s natural capital is of tremendous social and economic value - but if we continue to fail to recognize its worth, both people and the environment they depend on will suffer,” said WWF Director General Jim Leape.
“This report finds that valuing natural capital can pave the way to strong local economies, as well as deliver on the growth, climate change and sustainability priorities in the region,” he added.

Making business more sustainable

The report highlights the current unsustainable practices of the forestry, palm oil and mining sectors in Borneo and shows that the erosion of natural capital leads to a corresponding loss of long-term economic viability and social welfare.

“These sectors are vital to Borneo’s economy, but must embed sustainability within their practices to remain engines of growth in the future, “ said Adam Tomasek, Leader of WWF’s Heart of Borneo Initiative.

Economic modelling in the report shows that under a Business-as-Usual (BAU) scenario, the environmental costs of economic growth could outweigh revenues from the use of natural resources as soon as 2020. 

“Globally we’re seeing how the mismanagement of the world’s financial capital causes long-term damage to nations. The same will be true in Borneo if we continue to mismanage our natural capital – only the damage will be measured in ‘generations of suffering’,“ Mr Tomasek said.

“The irony of this is that unlike the financial crisis where the austerity packages imposed have been seen to be unacceptably severe, especially on the poor – a shift to value natural capital could actually improve the life of poor and vulnerable people in Borneo.”

Investing in Nature reveals two choices for the use of the immense wealth of natural capital in the Heart of Borneo: squandering it or keeping it in the bank, which would allow many generations to live off the ‘interest’ forever, in the form of the sustainable goods and services. It identifies that the key enabling condition is the shift to an economic infrastructure where fiscal policies and subsidy allocations favor sustainable practices and maintenance of ecosystem services.

Rio +20 Summit

The Heart of Borneo: Investing in Nature for a Green Economy report will be released on June 20th by WWF International Director General, Jim Leape, to coincide with a high-level event hosted by Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono. The President of Guyana and Prime Minister of Norway, as well as the office of the UN Secretary General, Ministers and senior officials will be in attendance.

The findings and recommendations of the report are featured in several events during the Rio+20 Summit. The accompanying website,, provides a window to the world for the green development activities in the HoB.
“The report shows how Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia can continue to work together across borders to develop and implement a green economy aspiration. By investing in nature, they can clearly show how to deliver on the Rio+20 vision of ‘the future we want” said Jim Leape.

For further information contact:

Adam Tomasek, Leader, Heart of Borneo InitiativeTel: +62 21 7829461 ext. 503, Mob: +62 811 9917855, e-mail:

For interviews in Rio contact:

Chris Chaplin, WWF International, +65 9826 3802,

For all other queries:

Chris Greenwood, International Communications Manager, Heart of Borneo Initiative, Mob: +60 128281214, E-mail:
The Orang Utan, one of the inhabitants in the Heart of Borneo
© Alain Compost/WWF Enlarge

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