A resident of Gunung Sari village in Kampar district, Riau, poses for a photo in front of his garden used to grow crops as part of the Climate Village Program. (Photo courtesy of RAPP)

Global Warming, Local Resistance

BY : SUKSMAJATI KUMARA

FEBRUARY 19, 2019

Jakarta. Despite mounting scientific evidence warning of the devastating effects of climate change, it remains a contentious issue for governments across the globe, with no easy solutions in sight.

According to a report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in October last year, the impact and costs of a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature will be far greater than expected.

In the past decade alone, there have been numerous unprecedented storms, forest fires, droughts, coral bleaching, heatwaves and floods around the world with warming of just 1° Celsius. The IPCC reports that the worst is yet to come as global temperatures continue to rise.

The report continues, stating that in as little as 11 years, global warming could reach 1.5° Celsius, and even if efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions were to begin immediately, it would only delay the rise.

Immediate actions and initiatives are imperative nonetheless. With the active participation of communities everywhere at the very least, they will learn how to adapt and mitigate the effects of global warming, help decrease greenhouse gases on a national scale and increase their resilience to climate change.

To this end, in 2012, the Indonesian government launched the Climate Village Program (Proklim), which was implemented in villages across the archipelago.

Participating villages implemented environmentally friendly programs designed to help decrease their carbon footprint, including waste management, use of renewable energy, low-carbon emission agriculture, forest fire prevention methods and more.

Gunung Sari Village

As of last year, Gunung Sari village in Kampar district, Riau, became one of Proklim's latest successes, with the help of Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), the operating arm of the APRIL Group.

Residents of Gunung Sari initially realized that they needed to change the way they managed their village. Plots of land were not utilized to their full potential and farmers still employed slash-and-burn methods to clear land, with most not knowing how to reduce carbon emissions.

The villagers were informed that their participation in Proklim would help them adapt to climate change and make the village greener and more peaceful. Rainwater reservoirs and methods aimed at improving food security would also ensure that their daily needs are met.

RAPP and Gunung Sari village partnered to implement the program as part of the company's community development initiative. Under the partnership, RAPP provided residents with training and  assistance, specifically on food security.

RAPP provided training on cultivating various crops with seeds, compost and farming methods designed by the company to help the village produce ample food. The villagers were also trained how to cultivate crops in their own backyards, including vegetables and medicinal herbs.

Gunung Sari village head Indra Kurniawan said the community now has a lot more greeneries, and residents are no longer worried about how to cultivate crops and access water. Residents also no longer use the slash-and-burn method to clear land, and work together to manage village sanitation and disease prevention.

Zamzuli Hidayat, coordinator of the RAPP Integrated Farming System, said the company also helps villages with activity documentation and data collection, as these are needed to record and collect data as a prerequisite to be recognized by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as a climate village.

"We help and provide them with information about what their village can do. With this, we hope the community has the tools and know-how it needs to weather the coming climate change," Zamzuli said.

Muhammad Daim, a RAPP community development coordinator, said one of the main challenges was getting residents on board.

"We got the help of some public figures in the village to further boost morale. Now we have other villages wanting to join our cause because they were inspired by the progress we made in this village," he said.

The Pelalawan district government presented RAPP with an award last month for its contributions to the Climate Village Program.

RAPP has helped seven villages located near the company's operational headquarters to become part of the Climate Village Program. They are Lalang Kabung, Sering, Pelalawan, Teluk Meranti, Olak, Banjar Benai and Gunung Sari.

"Villagers can now get their daily vegetables straight from their own gardens. Moreover, we are also proudly taking active part in protecting the earth through this simple, yet impactful action for the environment," Gunung Sari village head Indra Kurniawan said.

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