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Silverius Oscar Unggul Speaker Agent

Silverius Oscar Unggul

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Silverius Oscar Unggul Biography

Silverius Oscar Unggul, or Onte, 38, has dedicated his life to preserving the rainforests of Indonesia. But instead of fighting illegal logging on his own, the father of three has gone back to school, to Trisakti University, where he is enrolled in the Corporate Social Responsibility program. Onte now educates people about sustainable logging through the Network for Forestry Preservation, or Jauh, a network that helps former illegal loggers and farmers establish their own eco-friendly timber businesses. As the head of Jauh, how have you achieved success?

Every accomplishment is the fruit of good teamwork. I always feel grateful to have a marvelous team to work with. From the farmers to the members of Jauh, they’ve all been great. Although I am the leader of Jauh, all I have done is simply motivate them to do their best in life and to persevere for our cause. But I think we’re still only scratching the surface, because if Jauh’s concepts are good, they should be developing well in Indonesia. But they’re not — at least, not yet. I believe if this country could apply cooperative enterprises to everything, we would survive this global crisis and come out a winner.

Why did you choose the CSR program at Trisakti University?

The program is interesting. They offer a course that enables me to meet with representatives of other organizations, including those from the government, the business sector and other sectors. I’ve met government officials, business managers, press representatives and there’s even a priest and a ulema in the class. I think it’s good because Indonesia should include all sectors when making a national decision. And the center of decision-making is in Jakarta. I need to widen my network to enhance the implementation of Jauh’s concepts. From the CSR program, I hope I can secure further development of wood processing — not only will we be able to produce or export raw wood, but we’ll also manufacture furniture and other wood products. The only suitable business enterprise for Indonesia is a cooperative enterprise.

If you were the minister of forestry or the environment, what would you do?

As the minister of forestry, I would implement the cooperative concept nationwide. I believe forest management should be handled by the people. Of course, I would not shut down the major logging companies but I would synergize them with the people, so it would be a win-win situation.

Is forest preservation your calling?

To answer that question, I have to tell you a story. During one of my research trips, our team was traveling in an old Toyota Land Cruiser to a remote village in the forest. When we crossed a bridge, the bridge collapsed due to the weight of the truck. The accident ripped my toenail off. As I still had to walk to the village, I wrapped my foot in plastic to avoid infection. But by the time I arrived at the nearest village, my toe was swollen. I was treated by the local medical officer assigned to the village, who happened to be a friend of my father. That night, we had an inspirational conversation. He remembered what a good man my father was and how he would always owe my father for everything he had done for him. My father helped pave the way for the medical officer’s career by helping him get a promotion that earned him a permanent position. And then he asked me, “Do you realize the stars from here, a remote village, seem brighter than they do in the city?” “Yes,” I answered. “It’s because the sky seems darker here.” The old man went on, “That’s true and you should be like that. In this world, we should shine like stars by making a good name for ourselves to leave behind when we die, just like your father did; he left the legacy of his good deeds in life, not his money or other material things. And you, young man, if you want to shine like a star, shine now, during the darkest moment for our country. And you will be brighter than other stars.” What he said that night has been ingrained in my mind. And that’s my life purpose — to leave a good legacy for my children. If I leave a material legacy to my children, someday it would run out. But if I leave behind a social legacy, it would grow and exist long after I die.

What virtues do you teach your children?

When my father’s friend told me that my father had left me no material belongings, but only his good social deeds as his legacy, I remembered how he used to tell me fairy tales before I fell asleep. In our childhood, the story of Malin Kundang [a traditional fairytale about a son who denies his own mother when he becomes rich and famous, and then is turned into a rock by his mother] had a strong effect on me. But now, you see worse stories on our soap operas or reality shows on TV. So, I come up with my own stories about forest preservation to tell my children.

How do you cope with Jakarta since you are a “forest guy?”

At first, I felt claustrophobic but gradually I adapted. I think the Jakarta government should say no to the development of malls, apartments and office buildings. If land is designated for city parks or water absorption areas, then no buildings should be allowed there. But it’s all about money. If the money is good, anything goes.

Silverius Oscar Unggul was talking to Fariez Setiawan.

All American Speakers Bureau is a full-service talent booking agency providing information on booking Silverius Oscar Unggul for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Silverius Oscar Unggul speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next live or virtual event.

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