Posted by: Hendra Siry | 14 February, 2009

Celebrities enjoy new status as ambassadors for the environment

Noted TV presenter Maudy Koesnaedi says she practices eco-conscious consumption by always bringing her own shopping bags to grocery stores, pharmacies or malls she has frequented in the last two years. Maudy, a mother of a baby boy, also collects recyclable waste at home before giving it to the garbageman.

“These are small things I can do for the environment. I really enjoy it,” Maudy told a gathering Wednesday evening at the official residence of environment minister Rachmat Witoelar. “My husband calls me a stingy housewife because I always reuse papers.”

Maudy is one of many public figures appointed by the ministry as a national ambassador for the environment. Other celebrities-cum-ambassadors in attendance included singers Titiek Puspa, Sherina Munaf, Paramitha Rusady and Uli Sigar Rusady, as well as TV presenter Wanda Hamidah, poet W.S. Rendra and National Commission for Children Protection chairman Seto Mulyadi.

Rachmat appealed to his guests to help the government raise public awareness of environmental protection, citing Indonesia’s vulnerability to natural disasters such as floods and landslides.

“Climate change is the most dangerous threat to Indonesia right now,” he said. The gathering turned into a class as Rachmat explained to the artists the technical terms in climate change, such as greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation and mitigation.

“The world is now watching Indonesia with regard to climate change. But don’t worry, because we have support from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who also cares very much about environmental protection,” Rachmat said.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation and lies in a geographic zone prone to the fallout from climate change, with millions of its people living in coastal areas. Rachmat said his office would step up investigations into cases of forests being converted into luxury residential estates, such as in Puncak, West Java.

“We can see dozens of illegal villas in the Puncak area. They have worsened floods that frequently hit the capital,” he said.

Legendary poet Rendra also vowed his commitment to the green movement.

“I learned a lot from this meeting and I promise to compose lyrics or organize events and raise funds from other activities for environmental protection,” he said. He added he had already planted hundreds of trees.

TV presenter Wanda asked the ministry to push local administrations to enforce eco-friendly bylaws to help improve the environment.

“A public campaign is not enough. What’s important now is how to push regional administrations like Jakarta to introduce a special lane for bicycles,” she said. “I don’t understand why heavy traffic congestion still marks Jakarta every day. The government knows emissions from vehicles contribute significantly to global warming, but what actions are taken to stop it?” She urged the government to limit car purchases to help cut emissions.

“Promote one car for one family, otherwise it’s just all talk and no action,” Wanda said.

Singer Sherina also promised to devote her talent to the cause.

“I will sing for the environment, and hopefully it will help boost public awareness,” she said.

Source: The Jakarta Post – February 13, 2009
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta

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