A message from Wambena and Yepase to the world
In their greeting to the European Union ambassador, the villagers of Wambena and Yepase in Jayapura District, Papua Province, sent a message with Ambassador Olof Skoog to be passed to the rest of the world: that the water, fresh air and trees in Wambena and Yepase are not only the responsibility of the people of Papua but also the people of the world. It is time then for the world’s governments to help preserve the forests of Papua for a better future. Here, we publish the full transcript of the message.
‘We, the indigenous people of Yewena, Depare land, express our appreciation to the government of Jayapura District, which has selected Wambena and Yepase as the model hamlets for the Participatory Monitoring by Civil Society of Low-emissions Development Strategies (ParCiMon) project. Our appreciation and respect also go to the ParCiMon team, who have patiently trained and assisted us in through the Low-emissions Development Planning Initiative Working Group in Jayapura District.
‘We strive to safeguard and preserve the forests using our local wisdom and traditional knowledge of ecology. The people have conserved the forests so that we can always enjoy the clear water that continues to flow, the fresh air, the harmonious songs of the birds, the abundance of food provided by the forest animals, and the plants that give us our medicine. But all of these are our interests within our limited environment.
‘We, the indigenous tribes who live in hamlets at the outer edges of cities, have been proven to be able to preserve the forests. But we hear of large companies from Europe, United States, Australia and other countries, including the Indonesian and Jayapura governments themselves, that produce emissions or toxic gasses and who are paid salaries to do so. Who pays us for constantly conserving the forests for the world?
‘On the subject of low-emissions development plans, we, as indigenous people, have a number of plans for using the services provided by our environment: by increasing micro-hydropower capacity so that the lamps we use will continue to shine and may even be used by other hamlets; we also want to manage our abundant water so that it does not merely flow to the sea; we also want to replant our fields that are now full of weeds; and we also want our traditional ecological knowledge to be taught in schools.
‘But, to achieve all these, please help us answer these questions:
‘Who can help us ensure that our abundant water sources can be well used and generate income for our hamlets? Who can assist us in our efforts to conserve the forests around us? Can the assistance be in the form of funding or is there any institution that can help us preserve the forests and its functions?
‘We, the indigenous people, feel that ParCiMon for the last two years has been very beneficial for us and can be implemented also in other hamlets. But we need to say that if ParCiMon is to be carried out in other hamlets, the following should be considered: the outcomes produced by ParCiMon should be able to be developed and enjoyed by the people of Wambena and Yepase. The government should enact local regulations on low-emissions land-use plans and provide budget to support the ParCiMon program. We also hope that the European Union and other donors in the future provide other programs that are easily able to be implemented and which improve the people’s economy.
‘We, the indigenous people, will keep on preserving the forests using our traditional ecological knowledge and local wisdom because the forest is part of our custom. But to keep on safeguarding the forests, we need funding and capacity building for our hamlets from the government of Jayapura, research institutions, NGOs and countries that are concerned with forest preservation, including the European Union countries. There are many things that we can achieve together if this collaboration can be extended and enhanced.
‘To the ambassador of the European Union, we express our gratitude for your visit. We hope these welcoming words from the people can be passed on to the countries of the European continent so that they continue to show interest in supporting ParCiMon in Jayapura District and other places in Papua Province.
‘We, the indigenous people, believe that anyone who does honest work on this land will receive gratitude.
‘Our hope is for the successful preservation of the environment and lowering of emissions.’
Mr Yehuda Demetouw
Yewena Indigenous People’s Council
Edited by Yessi Dewi Agustina and Robert Finlayson
Read more about the EU ambassador’s visit to Papua