As part of Wharton’s Global Alumni Forum in Jakarta in June, the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) assembled a panel to address some of the key issues Indonesia faces as it seeks to protect its rich natural environment and promote the welfare of all its citizens. Sustainability takes many forms in this large and complicated country, and the panel addressed a wide range of topics, including government regulation; the palm oil, eco-tourism, and pulp and paper industries; and the work of non-profits.

This special report draws on information from the panel discussion, as well as additional interviews and research, to explore three of the most pressing challenges facing Indonesia and Southeast Asia more generally.

Renewable Energy for Southeast Asia: A Market Ready for Takeoff

Southeast Asia has rich wind, solar and geothermal potential, and governments are beginning to incorporate renewables into their energy planning. In fast-paced Indonesia, the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter, the economic importance of homegrown energy, including coal and much-disputed palm oil, has slowed renewable development. The country still subsidizes fossil fuel, but it’s slowly refocusing on a future that includes cleaner and greener forms of energy.

Southeast Asian Megacities: Big Challenges, Bigger Opportunities

More than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas. Southeast Asia’s "megacities," including Jakarta, have grown enormously (past the 10-million mark) and face major challenges in aligning aging infrastructure with people housed in informal settlements that often lack basic services. Fortunately, there are innovative green solutions — from cogeneration of energy to public-private partnerships — to some of the region’s most pressing problems.

Deforestation in Southeast Asia: The Future Is Being Decided in Indonesia

The development of Indonesia’s economy has led to the destruction and degradation of more than half the nation’s vast rainforests. As a result, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions have skyrocketed. But now, the government, Indonesia’s largest palm oil producer, major consumer goods companies around the world and key NGOs are all working towards a more sustainable future for the country. And the financial services industry is helping to develop the mechanisms needed to finance the transition.