furniture and decoration from China and Indonesia and selling to wholesale customers worldwide, I got increasingly conscious about sustainability and corporate social responsibility. I wanted to make a difference for the island I fell in love with: Flores in Indonesia.
As I was struck by the enormous amounts of waste that I felt was spoiling this beautiful island, with a lot of potential for tourism, in 2010 I started volunteering for a local waste management project in Labuan Bajo on Flores. In the process I started to collect data about other sustainability initiatives on Flores and their national and international supporting organizations. By doing so I observed that most organizations were not working together, were not sharing expertise and resources and often were not aware of one another’s existence.
In response I created a platform and organized a conference, bringing all initiatives together, resulting in the launch of www.ecoflores.org. This website presents information about local NGO’s and their initiatives, their ties with supporting organizations, useful links and updates. It lists governmental affiliations and private enterprises, companies with a Corporate Responsibility Program and their ties to local projects. The website creates transparency and promotes sharing. It functions as a market place, posting project proposals of local organizations which need support with expertise and/or funding.
Over time, many volunteers joined the efforts of Eco Flores. In 2012 Eco Flores Foundation registered as a non-for-profit organization in Jakarta, Indonesia. Up to September 2012 contacts in this network were mostly virtual. In order to truly connect participants, I organized the first Eco Flores Network Congress with the intention to share knowledge and experience in support of sustainable development of Flores. The congress was a huge success, gathering 154 participants, mostly from Flores and also from other locations in Indonesia and elsewhere in the world.
Objectives of the Congress were:
- Defining sustainability issues on Flores at present and in the foreseeable future
- Indentify which expertise is present on Flores and
whether such expertise can be used in other locations
- Define needs and gaps
- Define action plans
- Discuss the future role of the Eco Flores organization.
Already several collective initiatives have come out of the congress and are ongoing now. They are in various fields and all with multi-stakeholder involvement:
- Komodo-Kiwi concept –further develop cooperation between New-Zealand and Flores
- Flores Home Stay Network - developing a network of small scale community based Hospitality enterprises – benefitting traditional farming- and ishing communities
- Internet Access for All on Flores - attracting internet
- providers, connecting communities to the world wide web
- Eco Flores Waste Management Initiative - connecting stakeholders cross-sector and cross-border in a joint Waste
Management campaign, slogan Waste is Money, introducing Bank $ampah model large scale
- HIV/AIDS awareness campaign – connecting stakeholders cross-sector and cross-border to set up 3 workshops to empower
HIV-positive women in all Kebupaten to enable them to go into communities for raising awareness about HIV/AIDS
- Locally Managed Marine Area Labuan Bajo - connecting stakeholders to support a local fishing community in a non-functional Marine Protected Area in a 3-year pilot learning
process about Marine Management
After a year now a second congress "Collective Impact" is being organized to harvest the successes but also to bring these successes to scale. The conference is preceded by a Business Development Iniative Pre-conference meeting starting teh 25th of October. I feel excited and am eager to engage.
The people of Flores are luckily driving the change. But the engine needs lubricants to run smoothly and some petrol to make mileage. Not well-versed with fund raising the challenge is now how to turn this enterprise into a true social enterprise that raises its own funds for its operations, is intrinsically driven and is sustainably carried forward by the people of Flores. And if you happen to be on Flores: You are welcome to join!
Nina van Toulon "I need to find somebody who has expert knowledge of agriculture in developing countries AND with a vision AND with expertise on program development who would be willing to review these documents and share thoughts about how to continue.
There are so many issues and there are also opportunistic initiatives which are controversial (Jatropha) and which might not be beneficial for Flores population and environment."
~ Nina van Toulon