WLP supports climate justice campaigns that bring human rights to the forefront of climate action. We work with our partner organizations to provide training and mentoring to climate activists. In WLP leadership training workshops facilitated by our partner organizations, environmental advocates advance their communication and leadership skills and share with each other their best practices. Many of our partners continue to collaborate with participants on their climate justice campaigns long after the conclusion of the workshops, helping to bring about progress on protecting the environment locally and regionally.
WLP’s partner in Indonesia, Women and Youth Development Institute of Indonesia (WYDII), is supporting several women-led campaigns addressing environmental issues facing the country. The issues include deforestation, desertification, floods, sea level rise, and increased carbon emissions. In January 2022, Indonesia announced that it will move its capital city from Jakarta to the island of Borneo. While the government listed a variety of reasons for the move, among the most alarming is that Jakarta is sinking into the sea. Scientists predict that one-third of the city could be submerged by 2050. One key cause, according to NPR, is Indonesia’s uncontrolled ground water extraction. Elsewhere in the country, multinational companies are conducting mining activities that are causing water pollution and other environmental disasters.
WYDII has worked for over a decade with women, youth, and indigenous groups to stop environmentally damaging mining processes and to fight for climate justice. WYDII is led by Siti Nurjanah, who has twenty years of research and advocacy experience in human rights and women’s rights in Indonesia. After watching how the extractive industries and unenforced environmental protection laws have harmed local communities, Nurjanah is now training women and youth to defend Indonesia’s fragile environment and to advocate for climate justice.
Last month we spoke with Nurjanah about rising sea levels affecting the country, environmental degradation that is impacting women and girls, and how women are mobilizing to save their communities from the devastating effects of climate change. Here are some key takeaways from the interview:
- Environmental degradation is causing a scarcity of natural resources once abundant and freely available in Indonesia. This scarcity has increased poverty among women and limited their ability to provide for their families. To help address climate change’s disproportionate impact on women and girls, women's rights organizations are becoming increasingly involved in climate justice advocacy.
- Although the Indonesian government has laws in place to protect the environment they are often not enforced. Indonesian civil society is very engaged in advocating for the environment. Still, activists need to increase their pressure on policy-makers to create mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing the country’s environmental laws and policies to make them more effective.
In 2017, after continued advocacy by activists and environmental NGOs, Indonesia's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources revoked the mining company’s license to mine on Bangka Island. For two years prior, the women of Bangka Island had protested to stop the mining company from unloading its heavy equipment. During one blockade by local protestors, police (BRIMOB) accompanied employees of the company while they brought in supplies on boats. Residents of the island formed a blockade with their bodies to force the employees to stop unloading. One of the women community leaders, Maria Pardede, said that she witnessed police violence. She said that police were beating protestors, especially the men, until they bled. Pardede and the other women joined the blockade when spaces were made as men who were beaten had to step away. The women expressed their outrage by pushing back against the police, shouting, and stripping off their clothes. They successfully forced the police and the mining company back to their boats.
The victory against the mining company in Bangka Island is an inspiration to many other environmental justice campaigners. We need to strategically and forcefully continue to build awareness, take action to mitigate the impact of climate change, and engage as many women as we can—from all kinds of socio-economic backgrounds—to fight for climate justice. WYDII’s approach to advocacy and capacity building is to raise awareness and to support local citizens in their struggle for climate justice. We have collaborated with local women environmental activists to support their struggle by organizing media campaigns. We also support their legal battles by facilitating dialogues with experts