Golden-Agri Resources chairman Widjaja named as business communicator of the year

The 2012 Gold Standard Award for Communications has been secured by Franky Widjaja, the Chairman and CEO of Indonesian palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources, for the company’s groundbreaking stakeholder engagement initiatives.

Over the last two years, as Chairman of Golden Agri-Resources, Widjaja has presided over an effective stakeholder engagement effort to put GAR in the lead position as a vocal advocate of sustainable palm oil. The full citation of the award can be found here.

The award forms one of the centrepieces of The Gold Standard Awards and was previously won by Noriyuki Shikata, the Japanese prime minister’s spokesman, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and President Aquino of the Philippines.

Commenting on the award, PublicAffairsAsia’s Executive Director, Craig Hoy, said: “Franky Widjaja and GAR have led the industry and engaged with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental bodies – achieving acclaim for the company as both a sustainable business and one which is willing to collaborate with government and civil society. Among those most vocal in their include stakeholders such as Greenpeace, who were once critical of the palm oil industry in Indonesia. This shows how effective the company has been in its outreach efforts.”

Through a series of sustainability reports, Widjaja has illustrated a commitment to transparent and regularised reporting on environmental standards. In the latest report, Widjaja made reference to the need for “multi-stakeholder engagement” strategies, illustrating this through projects such as The Forest Conservation Policy, a partnership with The Forest Trust which included inputs from Greenpeace, and the HCS Forest Study Report which was published in partnership with TFT and in collaboration with Greenpeace.

Said Widjaja: “In order to improve the practices of our industry it is vital that all stakeholders be involved in the process. We therefore encourage all our stakeholders to join us so that we can continue to collaborate in an open and transparent manner.”

In response to this approach, Greenpeace has praised GAR for its “great work” urging others in the industry to follow its lead. It stated: “What seemed unthinkable for some people two years ago is now happening. Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) is leading the way in what could be the starting point for the palm oil industry to phase out deforestation. And instead of hanging banners at its offices, we are collaborating with the company in what is an unprecedented, serious effort towards what GAR describes as a ‘no deforestation footprint’ for palm oil.”

Additionally, PublicAffairsAsia noted that Widjaja has been more open with the markets, media and investor community through regular press and investor briefings, which has also boosted the standing of the company and in doing so he has drawn a line under previous criticism of the business’ historical failures in this arena.

Widjaja is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Golden Agri-Resources Ltd. He has extensive management and operational experience in a variety of connected industries and has been involved in pulp and paper related businesses and industries including property, chemical, financial services and agriculture.

Said Hoy: “It is as an effective architect of partnerships and a committed communicator with stakeholders that he is recognised for this award.”

In addition to his active involvement in Sinar Mas businesses, Widjaja was also selected as Chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Board and Advisor of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association.

He also holds various positions in the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce & Industry as Vice Chairman, Head of Agribusiness Food & Livestock, and for the Supervisory Committees overseeing relations for Japan. Widjaja also plays an active role by co-chairing the Partnership for Indonesia Sustainable Agriculture (PISAgro) initiative, which was launched at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in June 2011.

He is also actively involved in charity activities and is currently Vice Chairman of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Indonesia, a non-profit organisation engaged in social, medical, educational and other charitable services.

Added Hoy: “Through his efforts, Franky Widjaja has confronted controversial issues head on, building partnerships through effective communications and stakeholder engagement which are delivering significant environmental and social benefits while positioning GAR as a commercially sound, sustainable business.”

The award was presented to Franky Widjaja by Elizabeth Hernandez, Vice President of Government Affairs at HP Asia Pacific and Japan, at The 2012 Gold Standard Awards at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong on December 6

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