Transforming Markets: An Interview with Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Kiki Taufik


Kiki Taufik, Global Project Leader at the Indonesia Forest Campaign for Greenpeace Southeast Asia discusses the emerging challenges in APAC, and highlights the best tips on how to make cross-sector collaboration most effective 

Across his career, Kiki has earned significant respect from business leaders for his ability to meaningfully work across sectors and to make progress in some of the critical sustainability challenges of our time.  For the last five years, Greenpeace teams have transformed global commodity markets, shifting corporations such as Nestle, Unilever, and Mattel, to develop a “no deforestation” footprint in their supply chains. Based on his expertise and experience, we invited Kiki to share his perspective as part of The 2017 Corporate Affairs Forum’s panel on “Business in Asia: A View from NGOs and International Organizations”. Karen Scott caught up with him after the conference.

PublicAffairsAsia: Kiki, given your experience at the head of a global team working across sectors, what regional challenges do you think are most important for businesses to engage on in the coming years?

Kiki: The ASEAN Blueprint 2025 commits member nations to turn the ASEAN Economic Community launched in 2015 into a working reality. As a result, it’s anticipated that flows of investment and labor will free up. At the same time, it exposes large differences in environmental regulations across the ASEAN member states.

When you combine free flow of raw materials and capital with uneven protection policies and enforcement, there is a risk that some regions may bear disproportionate damage from land use change and  from extractive and polluting industries. To illustrate, we see persistent problems of landscape fires and resulting trans-boundary haze pollution.

We know that ethical businesses benefit from a level environmental playing field. It is in the interest of companies to push for enforceable solutions such as across-the-board environmental safeguards to have a more prominent role in ASEAN Economic Community planning.

Business engagement is particularly important in coastal and rural ASEAN communities, which are especially vulnerable to climate change—there, businesses can play a lead role in emissions reduction by insisting on using truly renewable, clean energy.

PublicAffairsAsia: To your point on business engagement, what are some examples of how business practices contribute to global or regional challenges?

Kiki: The most urgent example is the role of industry as both a cause of and potential solution to the global climate change crisis. Closer to home, another example is the responsibility of plantation businesses, banks, and other investors in driving Indonesia’s annual landscape fires and resulting regional trans-boundary haze.

While enforcement of regulations by Government is a key factor we also need to see businesses step up and take proactive action to end the crisis.

PublicAffairsAsia: In your view, what are some of the most important barriers to collaboration across sectors?

Kiki: I would say the most important are the different levels of understanding on the seriousness and scope of environmental problems, including the impact that businesses produce on their environment. Company employees are often unaware that the companies they work for contribute directly or indirectly to environmental destruction and human rights violations.

Other important barriers include the lack of trust between civil society and the corporate sector, as well as a lack of transparency regarding data and information on company activities and plans.

PublicAffairsAsia: With that context, how can businesses better engage and partner with non-governmental organizations and international organizations?

Kiki: Businesses can better engage with civil society in general by embracing the spirit of transparency and accountability, as governments worldwide have committed to do through various international channels such as www.opengovpartnership.org. By allowing the public to monitor the implementation of their environmental and social obligations and voluntary commitments, they can ensure they are playing a more constructive role, as opposed a destructive one.

PublicAffairsAsia: And finally, would you share how you have effectively managed cross-sector collaboration and its outcomes?

Kiki: The best example that we have recently been involved in in this region is the High Carbon Stock Approach (or “HCS Approach” – http://highcarbonstock.org/) Over the past decade, Greenpeace and other NGOs have been campaigning and working with leading companies, especially in the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors to adopt “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policies. The HCS Approach is a tool to help companies to implement zero deforestation in accordance with such policies, and the methodology has now been accepted as an industry-wide standard.

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