Jasmine Puteri On Protecting The Rights Of Indigenous Communities In Indonesia
As a former senior campaigner for Greenpeace, Jasmine Puteri has dedicated her career to raising awareness of climate change and supporting indigenous communities in Indonesia. Today, she is an advisor for Rainforest Foundation Norway, where she works to secure the legal rights of indigenous peoples—the frontliners in rainforest protection.
Puteri’s passion for environmental protection stemmed from her first experience talking with indigenous community members in Sumba island, Indonesia. “The conversation we had, the stories they shared… The women in the group told me many stories that touched my heart and opened my eyes. That trip changed my life. It made me realise how the environment and the forests are important to the lives of so many people,” she says.
Her work for Rainforest Foundation Norway focuses on supporting local NGOs, indigenous people and forest-dependent communities. “[We work] to secure their rights through a legal base such as the Social Forestry Scheme,” Puteri says. “Which is important because [they] are the frontliners of forest protectors and forest defenders. The indigenous people’s knowledge and way of life are proven to be sustainable, and they keep the forest and the biodiversity intact. But their forest is being taken and occupied in the name of development. So, by securing their rights, we are securing our forest. [It's a] nature-based solution to tackle climate change.”
We speak to Puteri about everything from her top productivity hacks to the biggest disruptor in conservation.
What advice would you give yourself when first starting out, if you could go back?
Trust your process and your growth. Everything happens for a reason, just enjoy the ride and the journey.
Any productivity hacks that you swear by?
Check your calendar the night before and prepare yourself for tomorrow. Have a break between back-to-back meetings, always take a pause when you feel unproductive. And get some fresh air and take a short walk after lunch on your own before starting again.
What do you see as the next disruptor in your industry?
Sustainable investment and climate finance. Sustainable finance determines whether the financial sector, such as banks, will have commitments to finance sustainable projects, such as a stop on financing coal and fossil fuel. While sustainable investment will be a key factor to ensure the future of our planet. Investment is very much linked to many industries, from the environmental sector, energy sector, development to infrastructure. It will also link to climate finance, in how to fund and how the money is disbursed for climate adaptation and mitigation for us in facing climate change.
Where do you seek inspiration?
People, nature, and books. Many good people doing inspiring things—having conversations with them brings me new ideas. But being in nature as often as possible is a big source of inspiration; the richness of nature inspires me to be positive and gives me tranquility to keep me going. Good books bring so much in-depth understanding of how to connect all of the things above.
What was the best advice you’ve ever received, and why?
You cannot make everyone happy. If you try to make everyone happy and pleased, you will get nowhere. Just be kind and do what is right, the rest does not matter. I found this advice very useful whenever I had to make a hard and difficult decision. Because there will always be people who will like it and there will always be people who don’t.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career so far?
To be able to work professionally in a male-dominated industry, breaking the myth of women in this sector, and learning from scratch. Since I did not have an environmental and forestry background, this was a challenge.