I want to guarantee my grandchildren a clean and peaceful environment in the future."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - To the surprises of some people, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior III, with his family members in Tanjung Priok Seaport in Jakarta on June 7, a day before World Oceans Day was observed.

There had been "hate and love relations" between Indonesia and Greenpeace in the past, for instance, when the Indonesian navy escorted the Rainbow Warrior II out of its territorial waters in October 2010.

But, in June 2012, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo met President Yudhoyono in Jakarta to express the NGO`s support for the President`s commitment to cutting Indonesia`s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent.

In the meeting with Naidoo last year, Yudhoyono accepted the NGO leader`s invitation to visit the Rainbow Warrior. So, last week he met his promise by visiting the Rainbow Warrior III which was on "Ocean Defender tour of Southeast Asia" that included a stop in Indonesia from May 9 to June 10, 2013.

Yudhoyono, the first president who ever visited the deck of Rainbow Warrior, was accompanied by First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, his daughter-in-law Annisa Pohan and his grand daughter Almira Tunggadwi Yudhoyono, as well as a number of ministers.

He was greeted by Kumi Naidoo who expressed Greenpeace`s support for the President`s legacy of protecting the nation`s biodiversity.

"Greenpeace is honored to welcome the President on board the Rainbow Warrior and hope that his presence on board this symbol of environmental protection will lead to ever greater protection for Indonesia`s incredible natural heritage and the people who rely on it to survive," said Naidoo.

Yudhoyono expressed his pleasure to meet Kumi Naidoo again and thanked Greenpeace for having made the efforts to help save the environment of Indonesia and the rest of the world.

"As a developing country, Indonesia needs economic development, but of course it must be environmentally sustainable. Although, we are facing several challenges, we are committed to working on both. I want to guarantee my grandchildren a clean and peaceful environment in the future," the head of state added.

The Indonesian leader on the occasion called Greenpeace a "partner" in the country`s efforts to protect the environment.

"(Please do) criticize Indonesia over the things the country has to improve, and advise us how to preserve the environment. If Indonesia does good things, do not forget to tell the world that Indonesia has a strong commitment to the environmental protection," Yudhoyono said.

In response, Naidoo said the President should be congratulated on the progress his government has made on forest protection. "There is still crucial work to be done but we at Greenpeace can assure the President that we will do whatever we can to support the Government`s commitment to zero deforestation," he added.

Before visiting Jakarta, the Rainbow Warrior III arrived in Papua Province on May 9, 2013. The Rainbow Warrior had just sailed through some of the most beautiful and precious - but also most threatened - waters in the world to meet the President in Jakarta, Naidoo stated.

Naidoo was sure that with so many of his citizens reliant on the oceans for their livelihoods that protecting the health of Indonesian waters is high on the president`s agenda.

Approximately 10 percent of the world`s rainforests are located in Indonesia. Fifty years ago, 82 percent of Indonesia was covered with forests but in the past decade, this has dropped to 48 percent due to relentless deforestation for pulp and paper, palm oil plantations and mining, according to Greenpeace.

The Indonesian government in May 2013 announced the extension of the forest moratorium for two more years to reduce the deforestation as well as gas emission rates.

Welcoming the prolonged moratorium policy, Greenpeace`s Forests Campaigner Yuyun Indradi said: "Deforestation has pushed Indonesia into the ranks of the world`s largest carbon emitters, but thanks to President Yudhoyono`s moratorium extension we might just be on our way to addressing this."

Indradi, however, hoped that the government to strengthen the moratorium to cover all peatland and forests where a number of endangered animals such as Orangutan, Sumatran tigers and Rhinoceros lives.

Similar to its forests, Indonesia`s seas are also among the most diverse coastal and marine habitats. However, experts identify the country`s coral reefs as among the world`s most threatened biodiversity hotspots, at risk from overfishing, pollution and climate change.

Indonesia is a member country of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) which is part of an area encompassing six nations that also include the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

The area is home to 600 coral species, or around 75 percent of the world`s total coral, thus making it a coral reef area with the highest bio-diversity in the world. The Coral Triangle is also often called the undersea Amazon Tropical Forest.

Among the six countries that are part of the world`s coral reef protection center called the Coral Triangle Initiative, Indonesia has the most extensive coastline, spanning 80,791 kilometers.

Indonesia and other CTI member nations simultaneously observed The Coral Triangle Day, which falls on June 9, recently to increase the public awareness for the marine environment.

Considering Indonesia`s crucial roles in protecting the remaining forests and oceans, Beau Baconguis, Philippines Program Manager for Greenpeace Southeast Asia in a separate event said: "Southeast Asia`s megadiverse countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines should be leading the way in forest and oceans protection in the region."

And that is what the Indonesian government under the leadership of President Yudhoyono has been trying to do over the last few years.

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2013