Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla has called for action against the illegal trade in ivory and stressed the importance environmental conservation practices in the archipelago during the opening of the Indonesia Environment and Forestry Week 2016 conference in Jakarta on Thursday (09/06).
The 20th conference, hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, follows a theme of “Conserving Plants and Wildlife for Life,” in line with United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) international theme of “Go Wild for Life.”
The vice president spoke about the importance of endangered wildlife conservation and prohibiting the trade of ivory by enforcing legal consequences both domestically and internationally. He also explained that ivory should not be seen as a symbol of pride.
“Firstly, it is a crime to cut off an elephant’s tusk for commercial purposes [or otherwise], and secondly, it also leads to the destruction of forests. Ivory should not be allowed anymore. Globally, the ivory trade has been banned and anybody found selling ivory is a criminal,” Kalla stressed. “It used to be a symbol of pride in every home and even in the State Palace, but now it is banned.”
In his speech, the vice president talked about the importance of conserving wildlife as it plays a vital role in the preservation of the environment.
“If we still have elephants, orangutans, anoa, butterflies, it means the forests are healthy. If the forests are healthy, it means the water is healthy. If the water is healthy, means rice fields are harvesting – it means there is life,” Kalla added.
At the forum, he also emphasized that in order for environmental goals to be realized, the public must join in the battle against climate change, or all calls for action will be in vain.
“We must work together for a better life and for our grandchildren. If not, we will be at risk of having no access to healthy food or water,” he said.
The vice president also urged law enforcement agencies to act strongly against environmental offenders, including companies who do not have sustainable waste management practices at their factories.
Additionally, transnational organized crime involving wildlife has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, and Indonesia has pledged to fight this.
“As the vice president has mentioned, our habitat must be well-maintained and as well as our waters. The public campaign of environmental management is crucial as it helps to raise awareness for everyone and to help people understand and care more about the environment,” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said.
According to a recent study published on the environmental website Mongabay on Wednesday, the UN and Interpol estimated that global environmental crime amounted to $258 billion in 2015, compared to $213 billion in 2014.