The President of Indonesia and top leaders of major Indonesian corporations were greeted by a colorful group of rainforest activists this week as they visited Wall Street to secure billions of dollars in US investment in some of the most environmentally and socially destructive industries in Indonesia.
Supporters of Rainforest Action Network joined with members of Rainforest Relief and Global Justice for Animals and Ecology to greet the CEOs and CFOs from Indonesia’s biggest banks—e.g. Mandiri Bank, Bank Republic of Indonesia, Bank Central Asia—as well as executives from palm oil (big ag), coal, oil and gas, steel, telecommunications and pulp and paper companies as they hobnobbed with US institutional investors trying to make deals.
The demonstration was organized to send a clear warning to potential investors to be aware of the major risks involved and avoid putting their money into companies with track records of deforestation and social conflict. Some of the world’s most notorious forest destroying companies dominate Indonesia’s paper and palm oil industries in particular and are responsible for widespread human rights abuses.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gave a morning speech at the New York Stock Exchange and then gathered with US bankers and Indonesia’s business elite at the upscale Conrad Hotel for an event called “Indonesia Investment Day.”
A protester dressed as a critically endangered Sumatran tiger singled out logging giants Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and APRIL for their role in “double defaulting” on investors to the combined sum of over $17 billion. APP is still in gross violation of its legally binding “Master Restructuring Agreement with forest conservation commitments made to western financial institutions and Export Credit Agencies.
Scientists estimate there are less than 400 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild and habitat destruction by the pulp and paper industry is a primary cause of their decline.
Other protestors held placards that read “Development without Deforestation!” and “You can’t Hedge Extinction.”