Winner of the Kong Ha Award for Excellence in Air Quality Management

CAI-Asia congratulates this year's Kong Ha Award winner who is a staunch advocate of better air quality management in Indonesia from the non-government organization sector!

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Ahmad Safrudin (better known as ‘Puput’) is a key figure in the campaign for measures to address air pollution in Jakarta through advocacy programs and stakeholder involvement. He is best known for spearheading the phase out of lead from gasoline in Indonesia which was successfully achieved in 2006. He continued to monitor the implementation of these policies, exposed several cases of anomalies, and played a key role in court cases that challenged the more stringent fuel quality standards.

One of the main reasons why the Kong Ha Award Committee decided to honor Puput is that civil society is often a critical player in advancements of air quality, but least recognized for its efforts. Puput was not a government official or in a similar decision-making role when he started his campaign for the lead phase out. He started by establishing the Komite Penghapusan Bensin Bertimbel (Joint Committee for Leaded Gasoline Phase-out, in 1996 as an advocacy group for the phase-out of leaded gasoline supported by other NGOs namely: The Indonesia Forum for Environment – Jakarta Region, the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), Lemkohi (Green Consumers Organization) and Segar! Jakartaku (Fresh! My Jakarta), a program initiated by Swisscontact.

To achieve its objective, broad public support with active media involvement was essential, and thus a public awareness and media campaign was initiated that included mass communication and training on sources of lead and air pollution and its impacts on environment and health, especially that of children. Puput mobilized the public to take part in a long march demonstration against the use of lead in gasoline.

He also had to bring many stakeholders on board and work closely with the Indonesian government and the private sector to obtain the support needed to make the phase out of lead in gasoline a reality. Dialogues were held with government officials, parliament members, private sector executives and others in decision-making roles, and support was given to government in formulating draft policies with the inputs of academics and other experts on fuel and air quality.

Like Kong Ha, Puput is collaborative and creative rather than aggressive and dogmatic in his approach. At the same time, he had to be persistent in fighting an uphill battle against many vested interests and to overturn the frequent delays in the introduction of unleaded gasoline. This combination enabled him to establish partnerships and gain the public support needed, and as head of KPBB he continues to advocate for better air quality and improved public health in Indonesia through policy reforms.

The Kong Ha Award consists of a cash prize of US$ 10,000 and a commemorative plaque and is handed out at the biennial BAQ conferences. Presentation of the Kong Ha Award is scheduled during the Opening Plenary of BAQ 2010 on 9 November (Tuesday), 9.00-12.00am at Suntec Singapore.

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