Indonesia: UN, Govt Plan Green Tsunami Reconstr'n
Indonesia: UN, Government Plan Green Post-Tsunami Reconstruction
New York, Jun 21 2005 5:00PM
In the wake of the devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami in the Indonesian province of Aceh, the United Nations environmental agency, along with the Indonesian environmental ministry, opened a three-day meeting today in an attempt to ensure that good environmental practices are integrated into reconstruction plans.
The Indian Ocean Tsunami, according to the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), created millions of cubic metres of waste and debris and destroyed critical environmental infrastructure, damaging ecosystems that provide both livelihood and protection for coastal communities. The damage was greatest where natural vegetation had previously been degraded.
Speaking at the conference, Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director, said "We learnt in graphic and horrific detail that the ecosystems, such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses which we have so casually destroyed are not a luxury. They are life savers capable of helping to defend our homes, our loved ones and our livelihoods from some of nature's more aggressive acts.
"It is therefore vital that during the re-construction of shattered coastlines and settlements, the environment is taken into account along with the economic and social factors," he added, stressing that a healthy environment is also vital to achieving development goals and delivering a more stable, healthy and prosperous world.
Recently the Governor of Aceh, Azwar Abubakar, declared that Aceh will be designated as a Green Province with 40 percent of its area to be protected so that the need to obtain timber for reconstruction does not destroy remaining forest areas. Rachmat Witoelar, the Indonesian Environment Minister, said that by holding the conference "we are bringing international solidarity on Aceh to a real and meaningful implementation of sustainable development here".
The Green Aceh conference is running from 21 to 23 June in Banda Aceh, with the participation of national and international Non-Governmental Organizations.