Recycling Paper, not Promises: New Commitments from Asia Pulp & Paper

In a potentially historic victory for the remaining rainforests of Indonesia and the organizations that have campaigned to prevent their further destruction, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has agreed to take steps to permanently end deforestation of the natural forests.

While the company has broken promises before - its 2004 commitment to protect High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) and reach “full sustainability” as part of a debt restructuring agreement remains unmet - the parties involved feel cautiously optimistic.

What's different this time? Greenpeace, an Overbrook grantee and instrumental in the long-running campaign against APP, believes it is precisely the sustained years of pressure on the company and on the corporations (like Mattel and Disney) that purchased its products. As the American corporations faced increased domestic pressure, they began to withdraw from APP, which in turn gave more leverage over APP to the NGOs.

Implementation of the provisions will be monitored by the Forest Trust, and will include:

- From February 1st 2013, suspension of natural forest clearance which applies to all suppliers while HCVF and HCS (high carbon stock) assessment are completed;
- Ending all cutting of natural forest;
- Protection of all forests, including those on peatland;
- Adoption of international best practices for rights of indigenous peoples and local communities;
- Independent monitoring by NGOs.

Also key in sustaining the effort against APP is the Environmental Paper Network (EPN). Formed in 2011, it now has over 100 members committed to creating a sustainable paper industry. EPN helped facilitate communication between the different organizations involved and worked to align their resources and efforts. This kind of network shows that organizations need not match corporate budgets to effect change - but it does highlight the importance of continued and increased communication between dedicated stakeholders.

Congratulations to all the organizations involved, and to the Indonesian rainforests!