Norway’s Attack Against President Jokowi Fails the Smell Test

Last week, we covered the move by US lobbying group Mighty Earth to smear President Jokowi’s Omnibus Bill, and highlighted their secret funding from the Norwegian Government used to carry out the attack.

Moreover, we hinted at the connections between Mighty Earth and the Norwegian Government to a group of ‘investors’ that had written an ‘open letter’ to President Jokowi decrying the Omnibus Bill, and urging a halt to the legislative process.

However, at exactly the same time, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar was writing back to these so-called investors. POM has secured an exclusive copy of the letter, which we are able to offer as an exclusive to our readers. 

The connection between the ‘investors’ and the Norwegian Government is via a small US-based fund called Green Century Capital. Green Century is part of a network of US-based activists that are operating under auspices of the Norwegian Government as ‘proxy activists’.” 

The Minister countered the accusations of the Norwegian Government’s proxy activists, first, by stating the Scope of the Omnibus law and implementing laws to be issued are unprecedented and deserve support of the international community; – ambitious in strengthening rather than weakening the response of Indonesia to economic, environmental and social issues… The Omnibus Law adheres to our international commitments under treaties, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as the International Labor Organization Conventions.”

  • “Does not abolish the requirement for environmental license or permit, instead it remains applicable when an investor appl[ies] for a business license” and changes assessment to a risk-based approach with stakeholder consultation.
  • The business license will also require investors to conduct environmental impact assessment on a risk-based approach, with possible – and simpler – revocation of a business license if these conditions aren’t met.
  • Maintains the requirement for establishment of an environmental rehabilitation fund.
  • Amend existing forest laws to include remote sensing for determining forest boundaries, which is vital to deforestation and fire prevention.

These answers are unlikely to placate Norway’s proxies, and there’s a reason for that: the Norwegian grants effectively require them to protest about something.

As we pointed out last week, when Norway made its first performance-based deforestation payment to Indonesia, it stated that Indonesia was ‘on the right track’. And it would appear that both parties are supportive with both the forest moratorium and the incentives provided by Norway.

The Deputy Minister states at the end of his letter, The Government of Indonesia welcomes constructive views of foreign investors and purchasers of Indonesian goods. However, it is important to have balanced views. The suggestion that environment degradation through tropical deforestation may accentuate diseases such as covid-19 is unhelpful; and it suggests that we are contributing to spreading this pandemic, quite extraordinary and in many respects unacceptable.”

Our question from the letter is this: Does Norway believe that deliberately provoking the Indonesian Government during an unprecedented crisis is the right strategy? And, further, is paying proxies to argue that Indonesia is contributing to the spread of COVID – via deforestation – a constructive strategy?

Who is Green Century Capital?

One of the signatories to the letter is Green Century Capital Management. Green Century is part of a NGO consortium known as Chain Reaction Research, which comprises Green Century, Profundo, Aidenvironment and Climate Advisers. The Green Century board members are from the Public Interest Research Groups, a consortium of US activist groups.  

Chain Reaction has received USD 7 million by the Norwegian Government. The co-founder of Chain Reaction Research is Glenn Hurowitz, who is also the managing director of Waxman Strategies (i.e. Mighty Earth).

Further, it has become clear that the Green Century Capital shareholder action at the Procter and Gamble annual general meeting last week was financed to some extent by the Norwegian Government.

The question that we posed last week has another place here: why is the Norwegian Government paying not just US lobbyists to campaign against new Indonesian laws, but why is it also enrolling financial institutions across the globe to do the same?

One more question: Given that Chain Reaction Research had a role in campaigns against FELDA, is NORAD now aware that it is effectively assisted in disrupting certified palm oil exports to the United States?