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Strengthen the Climate Change Agenda and Indonesian Commitment to Protect Forests

Jakarta, March 5, 2015. The climate change agenda and Indonesia’s commitment to protect forests should receive more attention from the Government of Indonesia. This is the request of the Civil Society Coalition for Saving Indonesian Forest and Global Climate in a press statement. This announcement is motivated by the issuance of Presidential Regulation No. 16 Year 2015 on the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) which combines the two ministries as well as two ministry-level institutions which are the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) and REDD+ Agency (BP REDD+).

Generally, the coalition appreciates the good intentions of President to streamline the bureaucracy by bringing together several agencies that have authority and functions which are interrelated. However, with regards to climate change, this merger creates opportunities and challenges related to the character of the issue of climate change, both at national and international levels. The character referred to above includes among others, climate change as cumulative impact, multi-sectorial functions, urgent and periodic timeframe as well as the policy of ‘no-backsliding.’

To build and rehabilitate social community resilience to the impacts of climate change, the Coalition proposes that the government implement an adaptation agenda that is as strong as mitigation, without abandoning the initiatives that had been started earlier. The Coalition also urges the Government to delegate the functions of coordination, supervision, and evaluation of the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy, and if possible, the Presidential Office, so it will have stronger cross-sector authority.

“Climate change is a cumulative impact as the result of unsustainable development practices. The root causes of these problems must be scrutinized from patterns of production and consumption which only concerned with economic benefits through a highly exploitative management of natural resources coupled with insensitive economic system to the problems of injustice regarding the control of natural resources and development” said Mida Saragih of Civil Society Forum.

It is no secret that climate change is caused by the release of emissions which can have a major impact on the nation’s sustainability and endurance. “Floods, landslides, droughts and wildfires have become part of a compulsory menu every year. Land in crisis within the forest area has reached more than 27 million hectares. Conditions of coastal and small islands communities are also threatened by rising sea levels. The biodiversity that forms Indonesia’s wealth is now in a vulnerable condition. Meanwhile, the size of fish in the sea are decreasing due to reduced oxygen levels in the ocean because of global warming,” said Muhammad Djauhari of the Consortium for Supporting Community Based Forest System (KpSHK).

The Coalition therefore considers that handling of climate change requires different roles from various sectors, not just the KLHK. As described by the Sisilia Nurmala Dewi from Perkumpulan HuMa, “The framework of climate change is not just discussing mitigation, but also adaptation to the impacts that are already present. Fundamental changes to the model of economic development are also the key. Therefore, there are at least 6 groups of ministries/institutions require synergies, i.e. the Presidential Office, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime affairs, Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Human Rights, as well as Non-Ministerial Government Institutions and / or non-structural institution.” Cross sectorial functions have also arisen in order to implement the various requirements of success in handling climate change which has been started during the previous administration which includes the One Map Policy, Participatory Mapping, Moratorium of License, Conflict Resolution and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples / Local Communities, and Acceleration of Forest Area Gazettement.

The Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) as represented by Henky Satrio emphasized that the One Map Policy should be a priority because it becomes the basis of tenure conflicts which has an effect on the denial of recognition of the rights of customary communities / local. The map of customary community territories in the forest area of 4.8 million hectares has been submitted to the REDD+ Agency, before it was ceased, to hold temporary data. Customary peoples need certainty that this initiative is still running even though BP REDD + has been abolished.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace Forests Politics Campaigner Yuyun Indradi, emphasizes the importance of continuing and strengthening the moratorium on permits in the governance of forest and peat land for the sake of a more worthy cause. “However, it is noteworthy that the Government must close a legal loophole that legalizes various conversion of natural forests and peat, and tighten oversight and enforcement, as well as review the various policies concerning developments that threaten the environment and community rights.” The same concern was also expressed by Muhammad Kosar from Forest Watch Indonesia who stated, “The rate of deforestation in Indonesia is still high. This is caused by the conversion and function shifting activities, the poor performance of forestry businesses, as well as forest and land conflicts. This problem does not letup, and is driven by forestry policies that are responsive and not addressing the basic problems in the forestry sector, that is, weak forest governance.”

Edo Rakhman of Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) stated that, “National energy policy also needs to be the center of attention. National energy policy has been oriented to the use of fossil fuels which is a cause of the carbon emissions that are partly derived from mining practices that have high destructive power. The level of dependence on fossil fuels is very immense and the effort of boosting renewable energy is very poor which then disregards the supply of renewable energy resources which are more environmentally friendly are very abundant in Indonesia. ”

The seriousness of the government in addressing climate change must also be demonstrated through budget policy reforms, which have so far remained unqualified. “What is meant by ‘not qualified’ is not only the amount of nominal budget, but also the funding mechanism through the national budget system. Climate change is long-term, so the accumulative effects are invisible and not measurable. While the state budget is an annual and can only accommodate activities that can be touched and visible,” according to Arimbi Heroepoetri, Coordinator Debtwach Indonesia.

Raynaldo Sembiring of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) stated that “The merging of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry must be followed by efforts of systematic environmental management from the aspect of planning to law enforcement. Therefore, Law No. 32 of 2009 on the Environmental Management and Protection should be the basis of KLHK task execution, especially for the “brake” in granting permission for this massive exploitation carried out by KLHK. The most urgent thing to do now is the completion of the mandate of the formulation of the Management Plan and Environmental Protection (RPPLH) and Strategic.***

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