Episode #5 - Tony Juniper + how the world's biggest paper company is atoning for its sins

Show notes

APP is one of the biggest pulp and paper companies in the world, based in Jakarta, Indonesia. It manufactures about 18 million tonnes of paper products a year and sells them into 120 countries.

And it is a company that has faced a number of run-ins with the NGO community over its practices, with Greenpeace its most vocal critic once labelling APP the world’s "worst destroyer of pristine forest".

In 2011, Greenpeace ramped up its campaign against APP when it targeted the LA headquarters of the toy company Mattel – a huge buyer of packaging from APP – unveiling a huge poster across the front of the building featuring Ken dumping Barbie (made by Mattel) with the slogan, "Barbie: It's over. I don't date girls that are into deforestation.”

Mattel quickly ended its association with APP, as did 130 other global companies wanting to distance themselves from a company with close links to deforestation of the Indonesian rainforest.

APP had to act. And act it did; in an extraordinary turn of events, APP and Greenpeace teamed up to work together on a new zero deforestation policy for the business. In early 2013, Greenpeace promised it would suspend active campaigning, after three years of continuous protest against the business.

APP’s new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) promised an immediate moratorium on any further forest clearance by all of its Indonesian suppliers, as well as a pledge that independent assessments would be conducted to establish areas for protection. It was a big success for Greenpeace and APP’s move was described by environmentalist Tory MP Zac Goldsmith as the “most dramatic turnaround of any global green villain ever seen”.

Three years on and things have progressed further, with a range of new commitments made by APP, including:

  • Block 3,500 perimeter canals to increase water levels in APP suppliers’ concessions located on peatland
  • 7,000 dams to be built by end of first quarter of 2016.
  • Already retired 7,000 hectares of commercial plantation areas in Riau and South Sumatra (announced August 2015).
  • APP and suppliers allocated 600,000 hectares for forest conservation and ecosystem restoration within suppliers’ concessions.
  • During the COP21 UN climate negotiations in December, APP announced a new Integrated Forestry and Farming System Programme to help local communities develop alternative livelihoods to achieve economic development while also keeping Indonesia’s forests intact.

To support all of this activity is the new Belantara Foundation, initiated by APP to offer funding that can be used to pay for rainforest protection. The company says the Foundation will channel public and private sector finance direct to local communities that are carrying out forest conservation projects in Indonesia. 

While billions of dollars has been pledged for forest conservation around the world, too little of it has made an impact on the ground, according to APP which is keen to use its leverage and reach as the biggest private concession holder in Indonesia to offer an effective way of making sure funding reaches the right people to pay for the right projects. “We will start by investing our own funds…but hope that in a short time others will follow,” says Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability.

And Tony Juniper - the star of this week's show and once a fierce critic of APP – is on the Belantara advisory board, continuing his association with the company to help it implement its mission to protect and restore 1 million hectares of forest in the years ahead.