Good News Spreads Like Wildfire: Under Sukanto Tanoto, APRIL praised for Fire-Free Village Programme

The pulp and paper industry has, in recent history, been subject to intense scrutiny – with the problem of haze and environmental protection having become regional and even international talking points. Managing and reducing forest fires, identified as the key to solving these issues, has naturally become a matter of increasing priority of communities, countries, and companies. It is comforting, therefore, to know that progress has been made in this respect; Sukanto Tanoto-led APRIL was recently praised for its efforts, notably the Fire-Free Village Programme (FFVP).

FFVP not a one-off

 Good News Spreads Like Wildfire: Under Sukanto Tanoto, APRIL praised for Fire-Free Village Programme

The FFVP has almost become the crown jewel of APRIL’s initiatives in tackling the much-dreaded forest fires. While the pulp-and-paper giant, owned by businessman Sukanto Tanoto, has had an array of initiatives promoting more sustainable and responsible practices –one only needs think of the Restorasi Ekosistem Riau and the Fire-Free Alliance – the FFVP has definitely received a huge share of the limelight, deservedly so. A multi-stakeholder initiative that focuses on fire prevention and suppression, the project was recently given the stamp of approval by head of National Agency for Disaster Management, Willem Rampangilei. Rampangilei was on hand to launch FFVP 2017, at Pelawalan Airstrip, Riau.

FFVP receives plaudits, support, and faith.

The FFVP is merely one of many examples highlighting Sukanto Tanoto’s community-centric approach to business and, indeed, life. The businessman and philanthropist is chairman of Singapore-based RGE, which itself manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas, and co-founded the Tanoto Foundation with his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto. At the heart of all his ventures and companies however, is the 4Cs philosophy: creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, and Company. This same philosophy, whilst providing the rock on which his empire would stand, has allowed the communities around his companies to benefit greatly.

The importance of including the community and stakeholders within a company’s plans was also highlighted during the launch. Fire prevention, Rampangilei reminded, requires strong commitment and awareness from various parties. Rampangilei also mentioned that he was sure the FFVP could contribute to the suppression and land and forest fires, and hoped to see the programme further expanded to other parts of Indonesia. Sukanto Tanoto would be proud.

Project Sukacita Changes Lives in Pekanbaru

Pekanbaru is the capital of the Riau province in Indonesia, and the 10th largest city of Indonesia. However, the rural folk of Pekanbaru lead a very simple way of life. Many do not have access to basic healthcare or health related information such as proper hygiene practises or knowledge of nutrition and the nearest medical facilities are often miles away from them.

The 25 volunteer members of Project Sukacita have devised specific programmes and activities that they hope will serve to educate the people in the communities of rural Pekanbaru, as well as address the health concerns of the children. Some of the most common health problems these locals face are infections, diarrhoea, fever, flu, malaria, malnutrition, rashes, and vomiting.

Out of the 25 student volunteers, 15 of the students are from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of medicine, and the remaining 10 are from the Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University’s IndoClub.

Project Sukacita’s Plan of Action

Due to the language barrier some of the medical students encountered, the Indonesian students were relied upon to translate their advice to the mothers and nannies who attended the Project Sukacita educational talks. At these talks, basic ways to manage the more commonly found health problems were discussed, as were early warning signs that caregivers could look out for that would indicate urgent need for medical attention.

Lastly the children themselves were given a lesson in basic nutrition where they learned about important nutrients they needed such as fibre, proteins and vitamins in order to have a healthy balanced diet.

Project Sukacita is a volunteer community service project run by Tanoto Foundation scholarship students as a way to “pay it forward”. The Tanoto Foundation, founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improve the lives of people living in impoverished and rural areas through education, empowerment and enhancement of quality of life. The Foundation operates in areas the Royal Golden Eagle group of companies, founded by Sukanto Tanoto, operate in.

RGE representatives attend 2017 World Economic Forum on behalf of Chairman, Sukanto Tanoto

January 2017 saw RGE representatives Mr. Anderson Tanoto, Director of RGE and son of RGE founder, entrepreneur and business leader, Sukanto Tanoto, and Mr. Tey Wei Lin, RGE President, attend the World Economic Forum (WEF), which was hosted in the peaceful, alpine resort town of Davos, located in Graubünden, Switzerland.

This occasion marks the convergence of some of the world’s most successful business-people, entrepreneurs and sustainability champions. RGE attended forums and discussions on thought leadership, emerging trends, the world economy and how to bridge the gap between the private sector and government and non-government players to be a force for the greater good.

Attendees at Indonesia Night

Attendees at Indonesia Night

Since 2015, company Chairman, Sukanto Tanoto has encouraged that RGE become a vital participant in the forum that takes place at the WEF, in an effort to best understand emerging trends and how the private sector can work hand-in-hand with both government and non-government entities to be beneficial for the community, the country, the climate and the company – the vital ‘Four C’s’ that define all of RGE’s operations.

Anderson Tanoto’s Reflections

Focusing on the theme of the 2017 WEF in Davos, RGE Director, Anderson Tanoto expressed that ‘responsive and responsible leadership is required; leadership with a radar and a compass.’

Tanoto stated that as a leader and businessman he believes that in having a moral compass, being able to judge what is right and wrong means: ‘Having a compass of knowing what is the true north and still doing the right things while the world continues to evolve’. He went on to say that RGE invests in the ‘long term, not the next three to five years, but rather the next ten, 20 years, or even longer’.

RGE celebrates continued Indonesian Tradition

As is tradition at the WEF each year, RGE sponsored the highly auspicious occasion of Indonesian Night. In partnership with the Indonesian government and business community, Davos delegates were introduced to traditional cuisine, cultural performances as well as insights into the business outlook of Indonesia’s economy – rated the 10th largest in the world.

As diverse as all the business groups are, RGE and Mr. Tanoto celebrate tradition and the common thread, the Four C’s that connects all entities. To follow RGE’s sustainability initiatives, business updates and social responsibility projects throughout Indonesia, Mr. Tanoto invites you to follow him on: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or LinkedIn.

Growing the Tree of Success Together: Under Sukanto Tanoto’s Leadership, APRIL Fosters Local Entrepreneurship Together.

Much has been made of Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry; it is an industry that has faced many ups and downs within and outside of the country, with challenges inherent to the industry well-reported. Much less mentioned has been the good that big players in the industry like APRIL – managed by RGE and founded by businessman Sukanto Tanoto – have managed to create for the community, by providing a platform and structure for economic development and lifting many out of poverty.

APRIL helps create an ecosystem for growth

Recent data released by the government showed that the pulp and paper industry contributed to 6.7 percent of Indonesia’s manufacturing gross domestic product in 2016, directly creating 260 thousand jobs and contributing to the creation of 840 thousand more jobs indirectly. These are staggering figures, and are the kinds of statistics that continue to validate RGE chairman Sukanto Tanoto’s 4Cs philosophy –creating good for the community, country, climate, and the company together. Likewise, companies managed by Mr Tanoto’s holdings company RGE, like pulp and paper giant APRIL, have sought to ensure their presence remains beneficial for everyone involved.

Asian Agri Learning Centre

Benefitting everyone, from the ground up

Government statistics do not tell the whole story either. On the ground, many Indonesians have felt a similarly positive influence from the continued presence of companies like APRIL. Kerinci resident, Sulaiman, recounts his story of how companies like APRIL, founded by Sukanto Tanoto, have allowed residents to move away from unstable working conditions, and helped Kerinci flourish.

“One of my staff members used to work odd times, helping his father, who is a fisherman and they barely earned Rp 1 million per month. Working here, they can earn more, and some can even earn up to Rp 4 million per month,” said the 38 year old businessman.

According to APRIL’s community development manager, Sundari Berlian, the company has registered 190 partners who work directly in partnership with APRIL. Furthermore, APRIL has already helped to create 90 thousand employment opportunities –a situation that businessmen like Sulaiman hope can continue. With Sukanto Tanoto’s philosophy firmly guiding the actions of all his companies, one can be sure that APRIL will continue to do good for everyone it works with, wherever it is.

A little less combustion, a lot more cooperation: How Sukanto Tanoto’s corporate philosophy doused the forest flames

People used to have poor impressions of companies dealing with natural resources – they would be accused of pillaging the environment, desecrating the lands, and leaving nature in a much worse shape than before. That might have been how it used to be, but not anymore. Under business giant Sukanto Tanoto’s corporate philosophy of the 4Cs –creating good for the community, country, climate, and the company – Mr Tanoto’s companies have set an example for the new way to go in natural resources management.

Working hand in hand: Making Riau fire-free, together.

Asian Agri, one of Asia’s leading palm oil producers with an annual palm oil production of one million tonnes, embraces Sukanto Tanoto’s 4Cs in their day to day operations. Asian Agri most recently showed their commitment to the climate and communities in which they operate, when they awarded 4 villages in Riau (where the Asian Agri group operates) for meeting the standards set out in the Fire Free Village Programme (FFVP). A total of seven villages took part in the programme, which meant that more than half the villages under the FFVP received an award. Under the programme, villages are encouraged to focus on aspects such as fire detection, suppression, awareness, and education.

A little less combustion, a little more cooperation: How Sukanto Tanoto’s guiding philosophy doused the forest flames

From a dream to reality: Commitment to the community, commitment to the climate.  

The FFVP, first initiated in July 2015, was pioneered by APRIL, one of the business groups managed by RGE. RGE – founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto – manages companies including Asian Agri, Bracell, and Sateri, amongst others; their operations span across the globe in locations such as Indonesia, China, Canada, and Singapore.

The reward awarded to the four villages for their sustainable and safe practices stood at Rp100,000,000 (approximately USD7,530) each, totalling Rp400,000,000 (approximately USD30,120) for this round – funds which will go into developing the infrastructure and community of these villages. Under Sukanto Tanoto’s leadership and vision, these rewards have gone, and will continue to go a long way in keeping RGE and its business groups’ longstanding commitment in ensuring that the environment and communities partnered are empowered economically and sustainably, for the long run.

Apical, an RGE company founded by Sukanto Tanoto, raises their game with newly launched sustainability dashboard


A look at the newly updated Apical Sustainability Dashboard and its user-friendly interface.

As a leader in the production of sustainable edible oils in Indonesia, the Apical Group, founded by Mr. Sukanto Tanoto, which falls under the umbrella of the RGE group of companies, has literally made hay while the sun shines and secured themselves as one of the largest exporters of palm oil in all of Indonesia. With this success, Apical, in line with Mr Sukanto Tanoto’s 3-tiered philosophy, has ensured the environment has not suffered, and at the heart of its daily operations is sustainable growth and cultivation practices – a core value that is hard driven by the company’s founder and leader, Sukanto Tanoto.

Palm oil is essential to daily life for many Indonesians, and it is well-known that the success of the Indonesian economy is driven by palm oil and its influence on the consumer market. With Indonesia’s prime position along the earth’s tropical equator, conditions for the growth and cultivation of palm oil could not be more ideal – long days of sunshine, plentiful rainfall and warm temperatures ensure that this product grows in a healthy abundance.

Sukanto Tanoto founded company Apical leads the way as a sustainable development advocate

As early as 2014, Apical committed itself to showcasing a transparent and traceable supply chain, with the promise of protecting high conservation value areas (HCV’s) as well as high carbon stock areas (HCS’s). Along with this, Apical has pledged to protect peat-rich areas, regardless of under-earth depth and drive a strong socio-economic impact amongst local communities.

2016 has seen Apical step-up its already impressive sustainability efforts with the launch of a highly interactive and educational dashboard, with content being made readily available to important stakeholders and website visitors, such as bankers, investors, civil society groups, buyers, suppliers and the media.

This sustainability dashboard has been created to be user-friendly, interactive and provide access to important information including: traceable data for the company’s supply chain, an interactive map providing access to this data, progress updates related to grievances lodged against the company or its suppliers, as well as company policies, guidelines and toolkits, while founder of the project, Mr. Tanoto, believes transparency is key

In partnership with consultant The Forest Trust (TFT), Apical has been able to up their game and ensure information on their sustainability initiatives remains 100% accessible. “We want to raise the bar by keeping ourselves accountable to the goals we have set, and to make that progress transparent and accessible to our partners and stakeholders through an online dashboard.” – Dato’ Yeo How, President of Apical Group.

Through their joint initiatives with the Tanoto Foundation and following the 4Cs approach of their founder Sukanto Tanoto, good for the community, the climate, the country and the company; Apical contributes to the education, health and disaster relief efforts within the community.

You can visit Apical’s updated sustainability dashboard here and follow Mr. Sukanto Tanoto, founder of Apical, via social media on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or LinkedIn.

Visit to Kerinci by Catholic Junior College Students: Interview with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong

Visit to Kerinci by Catholic Junior College Students: Interview with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong

A group of students from Singapore’s Catholic Junior College visited Kerinci, the heart of APRIL’s operations, as a reward of their winning entry at the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s CUBE 2015 competition. Inside RGE catches up with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong as they reflect on their 3D/2N trip. Interview with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong from Catholic Junior College on their visit to Kerinci

Inside RGE: Can you share your top 3 favorite activities from your visit to Kerinci?

Timothy: One of my favorite places is the Kerinci Central Nursery as it taught me about the initial process of paper making. Making paper is not as easy as cutting down trees and extracting pulp, but requires manual labour for choosing the best genetic species and the best “grade A” plants that have to be trimmed and given specific amounts of water to maximize their growth. The nursery helped me to understand the intricate details necessary to produce the best paper products.

Interview with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong from Catholic Junior College on their visit to Kerinci

My next favorite activity is the fire prevention presentation done by Craig Robin Tribolet. The presentation gave me greater insights into the causes and problems of fire in Sumatra, and the more complex problems of how to resolve them. The presentation also helped me to appreciate the clean environment in Singapore, and sometimes the haze problems in Singapore are nothing compared to the problems here.

Interview with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong from Catholic Junior College on their visit to Kerinci

Another favourite is the Fire Posko where we learned the different techniques of fire fighting and even got a chance to get some action by spraying water on a “burning” car. We also had fun spraying water on each other.

Interview with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong from Catholic Junior College on their visit to Kerinci

Nicholas: Like Timothy, I enjoyed Craig’s presentation very much. I also enjoyed visiting the nature school. Through these destinations, I was able to gain a better understanding of the paper production process as well as the risks involved.

Interview with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong from Catholic Junior College on their visit to Kerinci

Craig’s presentation also enlightened me that there is no one single solution to the fire problems in Indonesia and that collective efforts are key to ensuring the reduction of forest burning.

Furthermore, visiting the nature school was a huge reward as I got to see a school based on the environment and nature conservation while preparing the students for the future.

Through this trip, I was able to understand more about APRIL and its operations. I see how APRIL is actively participating in the local activities and aid the workers by equipping them with life skills. It is heartening to find out that APRIL is actively pursuing sustainable development.

Interview with Timothy Koh & Nicholas Wong from Catholic Junior College on their visit to Kerinci

Inside RGE: Did you feel that the visit gave you a better understanding of the paper industry?

Timothy: My initial thoughts on the industry were filled with skepticism. However, after the trip, I felt that APRIL has introduced many policies, regulations and efforts to ensure that their business does not operate solely on wealth, but on sustainability as well.

Nicholas: I feel more empowered as an influencer now that I have had a first-hand experience of the Kerinci plantation and am equipped with the facts surrounding rural development and paper production.

Editor’s Note: APRIL, a company under the RGE group, has been a Platinum Sponsor of CUBE since 2014.

Anderson Tanoto’s Views on WEF East Asia and Future Progress in Indonesia

RGE Director Anderson Tanoto has recently been interviewed by CNBC to talk about the improving perspectives on future progress in Indonesia, as outlined at the recent World Economic Forum.

Taking a positive approach towards the current state of the country’s infrastructure, economy and efforts for attracting foreign continuously expanding local communities, Mr. Tanoto has emphasized the goals the country has already achieved, while talking about future plans for industry expansion.


Improved Infrastructure

One of the most important aspects that relate to both the well-being of the people in the area and the smooth operation of potential investors has to do with infrastructural growth.

The local government has been successful in putting into motion certain elements of growth, culminating with their vision of 35,000MW in terms of electricity production in the next few years. Mr. Tanoto has also pointed out that the RGE Group and their partners in the industry sector have already managed to build more than 3,000 km of roads in rural areas, where new and improved roads are extremely important.

He also stated that, while the prospect of building thousands of kilometers of roads and improving the electric grid can seem difficult at first, only the first steps are actually a problem. Sustainable infrastructural progress, however, backed by both industry and government leaders, have the possibility to turn these visions into reality within the next 3-7 years.


The Political Agenda in Indonesia

When it comes to politics, the WEF has proven that the Indonesian government and President Jokowi have the best intention for the country’s future growth, both in terms of building better infrastructure and addressing all the other challenges that people are facing today.

According to Anderson Tanoto, the situation is actually much more promising than most people would admit; as he has stated during the interview, “the politics in Indonesia have to be seen from the ground up.” Despite challenges related to the economy and infrastructure, confidence in the area is quite high and strong changes are expected, as many of the political figures currently in the government are younger individuals in their 30s and 40s.

The first concrete proof of the remarkable potential of the country is expected to be realized in just a few years, as the Indonesian economy holds strong and the government is willing to set changes in place that will set in motion the initiative for reaching the necessary sustainable goals.


Commodities and the Economy

Mr. Tanoto has emphasized the fact that any temporary setbacks when it comes to commodities and the local economy need to be viewed as cyclical and that potential investors will gain far more by looking at the overall picture for the next 3 years.

Also, while the currency is fluctuating, risk management plans are in place, as groups like RGE have a powerful strategy for managing loans in both domestic and foreign currencies; the company also has strong treasury teams operating in Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong.

As Anderson Tanoto finally pointed out, the demographics and macro-economic environment in Indonesia show a promising future and prospects are quite high for the next few years.

RGE Achievements in Kerinci – A Small Town Reborn in Record Time

Not many people have heard of the small town of Pangkalan Kerinci – commonly known as Kerinci. This community of about 100,000 inhabitants is, however, a true gold mine for the pulp and paper industry, providing the world with more than 800,000 tons of paper and 2.8 million tons of pulp each year.

Considered the nerve center of the RGE (Royal Golden Eagle) Group’s main operations in the industry, coordinated by chairman and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto, Kerinci is regarded today as one of the most striking examples of how industry leaders, the government and local communities can work together to boost the infrastructure and economy of an entire city.


Remarkable Growth in Less Than 25 Years

Before the RGE arrived in Kerinci, the town was a more or less forgotten area with only 200 dwellings, no reliable roads, and a bleak prospect for locals to make money solely from fishing or engaging in illegal logging.

25 years later, however, the town is an example of prosperity, with more than 11,000 km of new roads being laid in the area, a local power plant working mainly on sustainable resources that can produce in excess of 530 MW of power, and even a small airport, as well as two shipping ports, used for transporting the pulp and paper produced in Kerinci to various locations worldwide.

Made possible by the integrative philosophy of Sukanto Tanoto‘s RGE group, working together with the local community to continually boost both the company’s pulp and paper production and the prosperity of the local population, these incredible progresses are a testament to how the corporate group’s approach to business growth can be used for achieving success.


New Opportunities for Smallholder Farmers

Another important area in which the RGE group operates – and which has probably impacted the lives of the local population in Kerinci more than anything els – is represented by the palm oil operations engaged by Asian Agri (one of the Group’s most important members).

Asian Agri has worked closely during the past two decades with the Kerinci community to manage thousands of hectares of plantation and provide high quality palm oil to the world.

In turn, local workers have gained the opportunity to become smallholder farmers and have been provided with remarkable opportunities for growing their own businesses and increasing their levels of prosperity to the point that they managed to buy new homes and secure their children’s future.


Sustainable Advancements

Sustainable forest management policies and the remarkable guidance of RGE have boosted operations in the Kerinci area considerably.

More recently, the RGE Technology Center has also become involved in the work through research and sustainable development geared for producing natural predators to suppress pests and gain higher yields for production. Planting experts have managed to optimize reforestation, and carefully prepare eucalyptus and acacia leaf cuttings to be planted in the plantations.

Together with a policy designed to balance environmental, economic and workforce-related factors, the many advancements brought to Kerinci are expected to lead to even higher success for the group and for the local community during the next 10 years