WALHI initiates people's forum ahead of presidential elections

WALHI initiates people's forum ahead of presidential elections

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) has planned a people's forum at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Basketball Hall in Central Jakarta on Saturday to explore the main environmental issues ahead of the presidential elections on April 17.

"We see that the environmental issues remain peripheral matters and are yet to be regarded as part of the main issues in this year's political momentum," WALHI Head Khalisah Khalid said in Jakarta on Thursday.

Due to this reality, this environment watchdog initiated holding a mass gathering on March 23 to facilitate the people to explore and discuss various environmental issues to encourage those in power to prioritize them later.

"The environmental issues remain far left behind by those related to the economy," she said, adding that WALHI has been attempting to drive the issue of saving Indonesia's environment to emerge as a priority for the government.

Environment issues had actually been highlighted in the second round of Indonesia's presidential debate on February 17 along with those related to food, energy, infrastructure, and natural sources.

In general, incumbent President Joko Widodo and his contender Prabowo Subianto had showcased a better performance than in the first round of the debate, as well as differences and similarities of their strategies in responding to the debated issues.

However, regarding the issues of environment, energy, and food, Greenpeace Indonesia, for instance, highlighted several crucial points that the two presidential candidates failed to raise during their open debate.

Among the tremendous environmental issues that Indonesia has been facing that the two presidential candidates did not present and discuss were those related to the real threats of climate change and plastic waste.

The environment watchdog tweeted on its official social media platform that both Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Prabowo Subianto did not even mention the word "climate change" though it has been perceived as this century's biggest threat on earth.

"This is sad!" Greenpeace Indonesia wrote on its official Twitter handle https://twitter.com/greenpeaceid.

In fact, according to Greenpeace Indonesia, events such as extreme weather, floods, droughts, storms, whirlwinds, and heat waves are often linked to climate change.

Besides neglecting the climate change-related issues, the two presidential candidates also ignored the importance of plastic waste as part of crucial environmental problems in Indonesia during their bitter debate.

In Greenpeace Indonesia's point of view, the plastic waste-related problem has reached an alarming state, and the Jokowi administration has actually pledged to reduce Indonesia's marine debris up to 70 percent in 2025.