Indonesia’s nickel boom tests Western green sensibilities
It seems that Indonesia may rise from a minor player in the global nickel market to a major powerhouse – but how will this newfound strength impact Western green sensibilities? The country’s newfound wealth and prosperity come at the expense of environmental damage and increased greenhouse gas emissions – a price too high for some. This article looks into how Indonesia’s nickel boom has catalysed the global nickel market and explores how its practices raise the stakes for sustainability concerns.
1. Indonesia Nickel Mining: A Contested Boom
Indonesia has seen a huge boom in nickel mining over the past decade, outstripping other South East Asian countries in the production of the metal and becoming one of the world’s leading producers. Yet the rapid growth of the industry has not been without controversy and criticism as the government have been accused of ignoring the rights of locals and environmental impacts of large scale mining activity.
At the heart of the debate is the extent to which large-scale nickel mining affects local communities and the environment. There have been numerous reports of environmental damage, such as the destruction of forests, and of the increased risk of floods which local people now find themselves living with. There have also been reports of human rights abuses, with local people sometimes not given access to land which is used for mining purposes and facing harsh working conditions.
- Environmental damage: Reports of destruction of local forests and increased risk of flooding due to mining activity.
- Human rights abuses: Local people sometimes not given access to land used for mining purposes and facing harsh working conditions.
2. Indonesia’s Roaring Economy vs. Western Environmental Sensibilities
Indonesia’s booming economy has driven the expansion of industrial production, becoming one of the leading countries in the Southeast Asian region. Industries from mining to manufacturing have surged, creating plenty of wealth and opportunity for the country, but also using and consuming natural resources at an alarming rate. From air pollution to extensive deforestation, the processes of economic growth have put a strain on the environment.
This has put Indonesia at odds with the increasingly stringent environmental standards of the Western world. The underlying philosophy of sustainable development that values preservation of resources and the environment may not be compatible with the focus on economic growth in Indonesia. Trade with the US and Europe has been threatened by environmental alarms as these countries take a hard stance against damaging practices, such as illegal deforestation. To continue to progress in the global market, Indonesia will have to find a balance between its roaring economy and the environmental sensibilities of the West.
3. Regional Conflict Soured by Resource Considerations?
Regional conflict over resources is an ongoing problem around the world, and there are no easy solutions. Despite the negative impact it can have on everyday lives, these conflicts can be further complicated when resource considerations come into play. Here are three ways in which resources can sour regional conflict.
- Economic power: Resources such as oil, gas, timber, and minerals can bring significant economic gains to those with the means to exploit them. This inevitably leads to fights for control of the resources, as well as efforts to deny their use to rivals in the region.
- Strategic advantage: Resources may also give one nation an advantage over another in terms of military power. An example would be a nation with a significant supply of oil or gas that can provide both fuel and political leverage over adjacent countries.
- Environmental degradation: It’s not just economic gains or military power that drives conflict; environmental issues can arise as well. The use of resources can lead to pollution, deforestation, and disruption of habitats, any of which can spark disputes between neighboring countries.
Resource considerations may not be a primary driver of regional conflict, but the negative impact they can have makes them an important factor to consider when studying conflicts across the globe. It’s clear that regional tension can easily be inflamed when resources are taken into account.
4. Navigating a Sustainable Future for Western & Southeast Asian Trade
Trade between Western Europe and Southeast Asia creates a mutually beneficial system for both regions. Businesses can access to a wider range of resources, information, and customers. It also reduces the reliance on natural resources from within a single region. Yet, navigating this route is proving to be a challenge for many.
Sustainable economic growth heavily relies on careful measures taken on both international and regional levels. This allows for trade to occur with minimal negative ecological and social impacts. Governments, businesses, and organizations must invest in methods that go beyond traditional or non-renewable sources. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Rebuild deteriorating infrastructures in both regions.
- Promote renewable energy use to power trade in physical goods.
- Encourage more digitally-centric services instead of goods transportation.
- Invest in sustainable, ethical production and eco-friendly packaging.
Western Europe and Southeast Asia can work collaboratively on these measures in order to keep trade sustainable, profitable, and most importantly, harm-free. In doing so, companies can bring forth innovation and progress, that guarantees growth and progress for the years ahead.
Indonesia’s nickel boom continues unabated, and will likely remain so for years to come. Environmental activists are on a mission to tackle the detrimental effects of mining, but can only do so much as the industry shows no sign of slowing. The hope is that economic success and conservation of the environment can continue to thrive side by side, ensuring a bright future both for the national economy and the planet.