Update (Feb 1): Walhi’s just declined to get into any discussions via e-mail. Here’s what Rindurni, Walhi’s officer for media and communication has to say:
“I’ve read your blog and my oppinion is there’s nothing we (Walhi) could discuss further about such topic you’ve thrown on your blog since you started it without critical question about ‘how businesses and NGOs can work together to protect and improve the environment’ like you said in your email below. i don’t know what your intention here but we refuse to answer your call to put our organization in such ‘brutal’ discussion in your blog.
thank you for your email.”
Unspun doesn’t really know how to insert a “critical question about ‘how businesses and NGOs can work together to protect and improve the environment’ “. So here’s the deal: If Walhi would like, Unspun would be glad to make a posting avaliable in this blog for Walhi where you can frame a discussion which includes the critical questions on how businesses and NGOs can work together to protect and improve the environment and we start a discussion there from scratch.
Unspun is greatly encouraged that Walhi has taken the time and trouble to respond so far and I think that there is so much potential here for Businesses and NGOs to start a dialogue on how they can work together to for the betterment of the enivorment and society.
On January 25th, partly because of the huge unanswered questions surrounding the alleged pollution of Buyat Bay, I posted an Open invitation to business and Indonesian NGOs to address the question of whether NGOs do more good or harm to Indonesian society and the economy.
The case that triggered the invite was the Buyat Bay case in which Newmont Indonesia head Rick Ness facing a prison sentence if found guilty by the Indonesian court system for the alleged crime of “polluting” Buyat Bay. The only catch is that — according to authoritative sources such as CSIRO — threre is no pollution. Yet Ness is facing a traumatic time for the past, I think, two years mainly because of allegations of pollution brought up by the NGO Walhi and its associated organizations. Walhi et al got Newmont in trouble because they claimed that the plant there caused Minimata disease. Since then they have been mighty quiet about it.
So this blog being about unspinning things, Unspun thought it would be great to have businesses and Indonesian NGOs conduct a discussion about how best they can work together so that it benefits the Indonesian environment and people.
Some readers, who seem to speak independently or for business have posted comments. Eric ness, son of Rick has also contributed to the conversation. To balance things up Unspun e-mailed Walhi to contribute to the conversation. But so far no reply? One wonders whether this will create a perception that Walhi is shy of conducting a naked conversation where the whole world can see.
The whole world is not watching — yet. But Jennifer Marohasy certainly is. Marohasy is a senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia and, as far as Unspun can gather, is fairly influential in environmental and public affairs issues. The comments on her posting on Newmont are particularly interesting.
So where is Walhi, Newmont and the businesses who often complain behind closed doors about the “pesky” NGOs? Here’s your chance to contribute to a conversation that may lead to some higher level of understanding between Business and civil society. Unspun sees that Friends of the Earth is a sponsor of Walhi. Perhaps they might want to encourage Walhi to engage in a naked conversation?
Disclosure: I once worked for Newmont as a consultant but parted ways with them more than a year ago. Snce then I’ve had no dealings with them.
So why am I making these posts: As I’ve disclosed in previous postings, I think Newmont’s sins are that it communicates badly and is not very likeable; but I am convinced that it did not pollute Buyat Bay.
I also think no one should be made to go through what the some of the Newmont executives had – detention without trial, an stress from a long drawn out legal process when the case should not go before the courts in the first place. And yes, I have an itch to see whether blogging can help bring people together to argue, quarrel, debate and eventually to converse with each other so that we have a better and safer place to live in.