Archive | May 2013

Government to revoke concessions in customary forests

By Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post   3/29

The government has said it will revoke business permits it has given to companies operating in customary forests after the Constitutional Court annulled its ownership of customary forests.

Forestry Ministry’s secretary general, Hadi Daryanto, said on Monday that the government would rescind all plantation and mining concessions that have been granted to businesses in customary forests that have been legally recognized by the local administrations.

“We’ll get them [businesses] out. Even if there’s a concession for HTI [industrial forest permits] or HPH [production forest concessions] as long as there’s a bylaw then the businesses will have to leave,” Hadi said.

However, as of now, no regional administration has issued a bylaw on customary forests.

The court last week decided to scrap the word “state” from Article 1 of the 1999 Forestry Law, which says “customary forests are state forests located in the areas of custom-based communities.”

The court also ruled that the government had to recognize indigenous communities’ ownership of customary forests, saying that “indigenous peoples have the right to own and exploit their customary forests to meet their daily need.”

The ruling has been seen as a victory for the indigenous people, who have long had their rights to make a living by making productive use of their forests denied by the state.

Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) secretary general Abdon Nababan said that relying on regional administrations to issue a bylaw on customary forests without a directive from the central government will risk reducing the court’s ruling to that of a paper tiger.

He doubted that it was financially feasible to have customary forests recognized through a bylaw.

“There can be dozens of customary forests in one regency. Will this regency have dozens of bylaws on customary forests? The cost to stipulate one bylaw in a regency is between Rp 400 million (US$40,850) to 700 million. If there are around 10 identified customary forests, it would cost between Rp 4 billion to Rp 10 billion to recognize customary forests in one regency,” Abdon said.

“And it’s proven that for 14 years since the passing of the Forestry Law, not one customary forest has been recognized,” he said.

Abdon said the president should release a decree for a registration mechanism of indigenous people communities and customary forests to start the restitution process of indigenous peoples’ forests.

Currently there is no official government data on the number of existing indigenous communities and the size and territory of their customary land and forests.

A civil society led mapping of indigenous land by The Participative Mapping Working Network (JKPP) has documented 3.9 million hectares of indigenous land, of which 3.1 million hectares are forest areas, JKPP coordinator Kasmita Widodo said.

JKPP has submitted their preliminary mapping of 2.4 million hectares of customary forests to the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4), currently working on an integrated map of Indonesia.

Nirarta Samadi, the UKP4 Deputy and Chair of the REDD+ Task Force Working Group on Forest Monitoring, said that the reason there have not yet been any bylaws recognizing customary forests was due to the previous status of customary forests as state forest. “Now we have an opportunity for a new process,” he said referring to the MK ruling. “It feels right now to use the avenue of bylaws and a political decision is indeed needed to create a positive atmosphere,” he said.

Hadi said that it was the ministry’s task to draft a government regulation to force local administrations to acknowledge customary forests in bylaws.

Government to revoke concessions in customary forests

By Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post   3/29

The government has said it will revoke business permits it has given to companies operating in customary forests after the Constitutional Court annulled its ownership of customary forests.

Forestry Ministry’s secretary general, Hadi Daryanto, said on Monday that the government would rescind all plantation and mining concessions that have been granted to businesses in customary forests that have been legally recognized by the local administrations.

“We’ll get them [businesses] out. Even if there’s a concession for HTI [industrial forest permits] or HPH [production forest concessions] as long as there’s a bylaw then the businesses will have to leave,” Hadi said.

However, as of now, no regional administration has issued a bylaw on customary forests.

The court last week decided to scrap the word “state” from Article 1 of the 1999 Forestry Law, which says “customary forests are state forests located in the areas of custom-based communities”.

The court also ruled that the government had to recognize indigenous communities’ ownership of customary forests, saying that “indigenous peoples have the right to own and exploit their customary forests to meet their daily need.”

The ruling has been seen as a victory for the indigenous people, who have long had their rights to make a living by making productive use of their forests denied by the state.

Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) secretary general Abdon Nababan said that relying on regional administrations to issue a bylaw on customary forests without a directive from the central government will risk reducing the court’s ruling to that of a paper tiger.

He doubted that it was financially feasible to have customary forests recognized through a bylaw.

“There can be dozens of customary forests in one regency. Will this regency have dozens of bylaws on customary forests? The cost to stipulate one bylaw in a regency is between Rp 400 million (US$40,850) to 700 million. If there are around 10 identified customary forests, it would cost between Rp 4 billion to Rp 10 billion to recognize customary forests in one regency,” Abdon said.

“And it’s proven that for 14 years since the passing of the Forestry Law, not one customary forest has been recognized,” he said.

Abdon said the president should release a decree for a registration mechanism of indigenous people communities and customary forests to start the restitution process of indigenous peoples’ forests.

Currently there is no official government data on the number of existing indigenous communities and the size and territory of their customary land and forests.

A civil society led mapping of indigenous land by The Participative Mapping Working Network (JKPP) has documented 3.9 million hectares of indigenous land, of which 3.1 million hectares are forest areas, JKPP coordinator Kasmita Widodo said.

JKPP has submitted their preliminary mapping of 2.4 million hectares of customary forests to the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4), currently working on an integrated map of Indonesia.

Nirarta Samadi, the UKP4 Deputy and Chair of the REDD+ Task Force Working Group on Forest Monitoring, said that the reason there have not yet been any bylaws recognizing customary forests was due to the previous status of customary forests as state forest. “Now we have an opportunity for a new process,” he said referring to the MK ruling. “It feels right now to use the avenue of bylaws and a political decision is indeed needed to create a positive atmosphere,” he said.

Hadi said that it was the ministry’s task to draft a government regulation to force local administrations to acknowledge customary forests in bylaws.

Indonesia extends logging moratorium, but questions remain

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 7.12.02 PM

An excavator is seen in a destroyed forest at a peatland area in Kuala Tripa district in Indonesia’s Aceh province on December 20, 2011. REUTERS/Roni Bintang

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti  5/30

JAKARTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Activists have lauded a decision by Indonesia’s president to extend a moratorium on new logging licenses, calling it a historic move in the struggle to save the country’s forests and cut carbon emissions. But some experts say the new policy doesn’t go far enough and will do little to fix Indonesia’s chaotic forest management.

On May 13, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a new presidential instruction, known as the Forest and Peat Land Moratorium. It seeks to protect primary forest and peat land — both major stores of carbon — by suspending the issuing of any new forest-clearing permits.

The two-year moratorium, which serves as an extension of a previous presidential instruction which expired on May 20, is directed at various governmental officials including the ministers of forestry and home affairs and the head of geo-spatial information as well as all of the country’s governors and mayors.

Together they oversee the world’s third largest tropical forest, home to some of the world’s most endangered species, in a country that is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And, according to the Ministry of Environment, the forestry industry and the destruction and degradation of peat lands are responsible for around 80 percent of those emissions.

ENFORCEMENT QUESTIONED

But the problem, say some experts, is a lack of enforcement behind the moratorium. “Why it is just a presidential instruction? There are no sanctions for those who do not comply,” says Bambang Hero Saharjo, dean of the forest faculty at Bogor Agricultural University. “Why not use a much more legally binding (policy), such as government regulation or law?”

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) task force responsible for overseeing the implementation of the new presidential instruction, defends the extension of the moratorium, saying it is the most efficient way to ensure the continuation of the policy.

“It’s about being practical,” he says. “It will take longer to process a legally binding policy.”

Mangkusubroto says the instruction can be used to tackle the management issues that Saharjo and other critics point to. Besides continuing its work on integrating all of the varied — and sometimes conflicting — maps of Indonesia’s forests and peat lands currently being used by different ministries and institutions, he says the task force is preparing to launch a REDD+ agency, which will focus on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation as a part of Indonesia’s commitment to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020.

“The most important thing is to fix how we manage our forestry sector,” he says.

One of the moratorium’s goals may be to reduce emissions, but according to Nyoman N. Suryadiputra, director of the Wetlands International Indonesia Program (WIIP), that is not working because the restrictions affect only new permits. “Previous permits are still in effect and still (causing) emissions,” he says.

Experts say Indonesia has approximately 25 million hectares of peat land, nearly half of it already degraded. Based on WIIP findings, in 2011 alone, another 3.5 million hectares of peat land was converted into oil palm plantations, Suryadiputra says. The program estimates that peat degradation and losses will result in emissions of 735 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2020.

That figure is far higher than the 560 million tons projected by Indonesia’s National Action Plan on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. “And that’s only emissions from peat lands and palm oil,” Suryadiputra says. “We have yet to talk about (emissions resulting from) forest fires or other land-use changes.”

EVALUATING THE IMPACT

However Hermono Sigit, assistant deputy at the environment ministry’s department of Inland Water Ecosystem Damage Control, says the moratorium has helped protect Indonesia’s peat lands by spurring on the creation of stronger legislation.

“The Ministry of Environment is finalising government regulation on peat lands management, which includes water management, rehabilitation and restoration efforts,” he says. He explained that the regulation had been drafted several years ago but was stuck in policymaking limbo until the moratorium was passed in 2011.

Now with the moratorium keeping the number of land-clearing permits constant, the ministry can better evaluate the impact the existing permits have on carbon dioxide emissions, Sigit said.

Yuyu Rahayu, director of inventory and monitoring of forest resources at the Forestry Ministry, also applauds the moratorium, saying it has helped cut the deforestation rate from 1.125 million hectares per year in 2000-2005 to around 450,000 hectares per year in 2009-2011.

But forestry expert Saharjo slams the claim that the moratorium has had any impact, since by the time it was implemented in 2011 the rate of deforestation was already in decline.

He says that for real change to happen, the new moratorium needs to broaden its reach and cover not only logging, but other sectors that contribute to forest and peat land destruction, such as mining and farming.

“The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture should fall under the instruction because those two commodities overlap with forestry and cause many problems,” he says. “Without sitting down with those two institutions, it will be difficult to sort out solutions for our forests.”

Fidelis E Satriastanti, based in Jakarta, writes on climate change and environmental issues.

Conservationists warn against keeping wild animals as pets

Mawas dan Anak_foto by Ichan

Photo by Ichan

By Hotli Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post 5/28

Conservationists from the Aceh Orangutan Forum (FORA) have called on the central government to take stern measures against people who keep protected animals, such as orangutans, as pets.

They have urged the government, through the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) to immediately confiscate orangutans kept by recreational parks as illegal pets.

“The government should immediately confiscate the protected animals from the hands of incompetent people in Aceh,” said FORA activist Azhar recently.

He said the government’s indecisiveness in legal matters had significantly contributed to wildlife poaching in Aceh. If the situation continued he added, there were concerns that endangered wildlife species, such as tigers, orangutans and rhinoceros could die out.

“This year alone, several tigers and orangutans have been killed due to poaching in various locations, especially in protected forests near human settlements,” said Azhar.

Despite the keeping and displaying of stuffed tigers and other animals being against the law, the government has done little.

“We often inform the public that poaching or keeping protected animals violates the law but the campaigns seem not to be in tune with the government law enforcement efforts,” said Azhar.

Many people are unaware that poaching protected animals is against the law. As well as poaching, rare animals such as orangutans are frequently kept in recreational parks and private homes as pets. “We have repeatedly urged the BKSDA to immediately seize and save the orangutans which have been kept as pets. However, the government is often late in confiscating the animals so the orangutans vanish or die,” said orangutan lover Retno.

She said the orangutan population was gradually dwindling due to rampant poaching as well as the conversion of forest into oil palm plantations, such as in Aceh Singkil, causing orangutans to lose their habitats. “An example is the Rawa Tripa area which has been converted into plantations,” said Retno.

Around 400 orangutans are estimated to live in Aceh’s vast forests. If the government fails to immediately protect the forests, it is feared this population will be endangered.

Guardian Global Development ‘The Sumatran rainforest will mostly disappear within 20 years’

 

Blog Editor’s note: We are including this story to raise awareness of the very real threats that Sumatra faces. But it’s not too late. Add your voice to those working to protect the rainforests that remain, and the incredible wildlife they contain.

VIDEO Here

In only a few years, logging and agribusiness have cut Indonesia’s vast rainforest by half. The government has renewed a moratorium on deforestation but it may already be too late for the endangered animals –and for the people whose lives lie in ruin.

By John Vidal, The Observer 5/26

Our small plane had been flying low over Sumatra for three hours but all we had seen was an industrial landscape of palm and acacia trees stretching 30 miles in every direction. A haze of blue smoke from newly cleared land drifted eastward over giant plantations. Long drainage canals dug through equatorial swamps dissected the land. The only sign of life was excavators loading trees onto barges to take to pulp mills.

The end is in sight for the great forests of Sumatra and Borneo and the animals and people who depend on them. Thirty years ago the world’s third- and sixth-largest islands were full of tigers, elephants, rhinos, orangutan and exotic birds and plants but in a frenzy of development they have been trashed in a single generation by global agribusiness and pulp and paper industries.

Their plantations supply Britain and the world with toilet paper, biofuels and vegetable oil to make everyday foods such as margarine, cream cheese and chocolate, but distraught scientists and environmental groups this week warn that one of the 21st century’s greatest ecological disasters is rapidly unfolding.

Official figures show more than half of Indonesia’s rainforest, the third-largest swath in the world, has been felled in a few years and permission has been granted to convert up to 70% of what remains into palm or acacia plantations. The government last week renewed a moratorium on the felling of rainforest, but nearly a million hectares are still being cut each year and the last pristine areas, in provinces such as Ache and Papua, are now prime targets for giant logging, palm and mining companies.

The toll on wildlife across an area nearly the size of Europe is vast, say scientists who warn that many of Indonesia’s species could be extinct in the wild within 20-30 years. Orangutan numbers are in precipitous decline, only 250-400 tigers remain and fewer than 100 rhino are left in the forests, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Millions of hectares are nominally protected, but the forest is fragmented, national parks are surrounded by plantations, illegal loggers work with impunity and corruption is rife in government. “This is the fastest, most comprehensive transformation of an entire landscape that has ever taken place anywhere in the world including the Amazon. If it continues at this rate all that will be left in 20 years is a few fragmented areas of natural forest surrounded by huge manmade plantations. There will be increased floods, fires and droughts but no animals,” said Yuyun Indradi, political forest campaigner with Greenpeace southeast Asia in Jakarta.

Last night the WWF’s chief Asian tiger expert pleaded with the Indonesian government and the world to stop the growth of palm oil plantations. “Forest conversion is massive. We urgently need stronger commitment from the government and massive support from the people. We cannot tolerate any further conversion of natural forests,” said Sunarto Sunarto in Jakarta.

Indonesia’s deforestation has been accompanied by rising violence, say watchdog groups. Last year, more than 600 major land conflicts were recorded in the palm plantations. Many turned violent as communities that had lost their traditional forest fought multinational companies and security forces. More than 5,000 human rights abuses were recorded, with 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

“The legacy of deforestation has been conflict, increased poverty, migration to the cities and the erosion of habitat for animals. As the forests come down, social conflicts are exploding everywhere,” said Abetnego Tarigan, director of Walhi, Indonesia’s largest environment group.

Scientists fear that the end of the forest could come quickly. Conflict-wracked Aceh, which bore the brunt of the tsunami in 2004, will lose more than half its trees if a new government plan to change the land use is pushed through. A single Canadian mining company is seeking to exploit 1.77m hectares for mining, logging and palm plantations.

Large areas of central Sumatra and Kalimantan are being felled as coal, copper and gold mining companies move in. Millions of hectares of forest in west Papua are expected to be converted to palm plantations.

“Papuans, some of the poorest citizens in Indonesia, are being utterly exploited in legally questionable oil palm land deals that provide huge financial opportunities for international investors at the expense of the people and forests of West Papua,” said Jago Wadley, a forest campaigner with the Environment Investigation Agency.

Despite a commitment last week from the government to extend a moratorium on deforestation for two years, Indonesia is still cutting down its forests faster than any other country. Loopholes in the law mean the moratorium only covers new licences and primary forests, and excludes key peatland areas and existing concessions which are tiger and elephant habitats. “No one seems able to stop the destruction,” said Greenpeace International’s forest spokesman, Phil Aikman.

The conflicts often arise when companies are granted dubious logging or plantation permissions that overlap with community-managed traditional forests and protected areas such as national parks.

Nine villages have been in conflict with the giant paper company April, which has permission to convert, with others, 450,000 hectares of deep peat forests on the Kampar Peninsula in central Sumatra. Because the area contains as much as 1.5bn tonnes of carbon, it has global importance in the fight against climate change.

“We would die for this [forest] if necessary. This is a matter of life and death. The forest is our life. We depend on it when we want to build our houses or boats. We protect it. The permits were handed out illegally, but now we have no option but to work for the companies or hire ourselves out for pitiful wages,” said one village leader from Teluk Meranti who feared to give his name.

They accuse corrupt local officials of illegally grabbing their land. April, which strongly denies involvement in corruption, last week announced plans to work with London-based Flora and Fauna international to restore 20,000 hectares of degraded forest land.

Fifty miles away, near the town of Rengit, villagers watched in horror last year when their community forest was burned down – they suspect by people in the pay of a large palm oil company. “Life is terrible now. We are ruined. We used to get resin, wood, timber, fuel from the forest. Now we have no option but to work for the palm oil company. The company beat us. The fire was deliberate. This forest was everything for us. We used it as our supermarket, building store, chemist shop and fuel supplier for generations of people. Now we must put plastic on our roofs,” said one man from the village of Bayesjaya who also asked not to be named.

Mursyi Ali from the village of Kuala Cenaku in the province of Riau, has spent 10 years fighting oil plantation companies which were awarded a giant concession. “Maybe 35,000 people have been impacted by their plantations. Everyone is very upset. People have died in protests. I have not accepted defeat yet. These conflicts are going on everywhere. Before the companies came we had a lot of natural resources, like honey, rattan, fish, shrimps and wood,” he said.

“We had all we wanted. That all went when the companies came. Everything that we depended on went. Deforestaion has led to pollution and health problems. We are all poorer now. I blame the companies and the government, but most of all the government,” he continued. He pleaded with the company: “Please resolve this problem and give us back the 4,100 hectares of land. We would die for this if necessary. This is a life or death,” he says.

Greenpeace and other groups accuse the giant pulp and palm companies of trashing tens of thousands of hectares of rainforest a year but the companies respond that they are the forest defenders and without them the ecological devastation would be worse. “There has been a rampant escalation of the denuding of the landscape but it is mostly by migrant labour and palm oil growers. Poverty and illegal logging along with migrant labour have caused the deforestation,” said April’s spokesman, David Goodwin.

“What April does is not deforestation. In establishing acacia plantations in already-disturbed forest areas, it is contributing strongly to reforestation. Last year April planted more than 100 million trees. Deforestation happens because of highly organised illegal logging, slash-and-burn practices by migrant labour, unregulated timber operations. There has been a explosion of palm oil concessions.”

The company would not reveal how much rainforest it and its suppliers fell each year but internal papers seen by the Observer show that it planned to deforest 60,000 hectares of rainforest in 2012 but postponed this pending the moratorium. It admits that it has a concession of 20,000 hectares of forest that it has permission to fell and that it takes up to one third of its timber from “mixed tropical hardwood” for its giant pulp and paper mill near Penabaru in Riau.

There are some signs of hope. The heat is now on other large palm oil and paper companies after Asia Pacific Resources International (APP), one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies, was persuaded this year by international and local Indonesian groups to end all rainforest deforestation and to rely solely on its plantations for its wood.

The company, which admits to having felled hundreds of thousands of acres of Sumatran forest in the last 20 years, had been embarrassed and financially hurt when other global firms including Adidas, Kraft, Mattel, Hasbro, Nestlé, Carrefour, Staples and Unilever dropped products made by APP that had been made with rainforest timber.

“We thought that if we adopted national laws to protect the forest that this would be enough. But it clearly was not. We realised something was not right and that we needed a much higher standard. So now we will stop the deforestation, whatever the cost. We are now convinced that the long term benefits will be greater,” said Aida Greenbury, APP’s sustainability director. “Yes. We got it wrong. We could not have done worse.”

Why Indonesia’s deforestation ban isn’t enough to protect its forests

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 2.42.39 PMPhoto: Greenpeace

By Richardg – Greenpeace UK  3/22

The president of Indonesia has banned deforestation for another couple of years. This is great news – but we aren’t celebrating just yet, because most of its rainforest remains unprotected.

Earlier this week, the Indonesian president extended the country’s deforestation ban. It gives us two more crucial years to get a grip on the pulp and paper and palm oil companies that are trashing the forests and pushing animals like the Sumatran tiger to the edge of extinction.

So why aren’t we celebrating?

Unfortunately, the deforestation ban is still full of loopholes. Almost half of Indonesia’s primary forests and peatlands still have no protection from chainsaw-happy companies.

This is because Indonesia’s deforestation ban is not really a ban on deforestation. It’s a ban on new concessions (which are permits to log, mine or set up a palm oil plantation on a particular patch of land) for areas of ‘primary’ forest and carbon-rich peatlands.

Most of Indonesia’s rainforest has been damaged by illegal logging, mining or forest fires. These forests are not covered by the deforestation ban. Nor does the ban extend to concessions that had already been allocated.

If a company had already been given permission to log an area of forest before the ban came in, then it would be legally entitled to chop down all the trees, ban or no ban.

Enforcement is also a major problem. Local officials are often unwilling to prosecute companies that are logging illegally. If the government is serious about protecting the forests, it must enforce its forestry laws and make corruption something you only read about in history books.

We’re running out of time to save Indonesia’s forests. Every year, there is a little less jungle – and a lot more plantation.

That’s why I’d rather have a weak deforestation ban than a forest destroyers’ free-for-all. Just don’t ask me to put on my party hat until those loopholes are closed and the forests – and the people, the tigers and the orangutans which depend on them – are protected.

Indonesia and environmental sustainability: Walking the talk?

 

By Satya S. Tripathi, Jakarta Post Opinion 3/22

At a national workshop on Indonesia’s moratorium hosted by the United Nations earlier this month, noted Indonesian ecologist Sonya Dewi likened the moratorium to a durian. She spoke of its polarizing effect. People either love it or hate it. While at first glance, it may appear difficult and prickly, when broken apart, it can yield a nutritious and beneficial sustenance.

Similarly, other participants noted that, in both Indonesian and global discussions on forestry and broader resource management, people often speak of “low hanging fruit” or “quick wins”. This refers to making short-term achievements that can maintain the momentum needed to institute long-term reforms necessary to achieve sustainability. Without a doubt, temporary gains in a positive direction are important.

The durian alone cannot provide for our sustenance. It neither covers all nutritional needs and each of us has preferences for or against it. Equally, there is no silver bullet that can please all stakeholders and address — in one fell swoop — the dynamism and complexities of balancing economic growth and environmental sustainability with social protection and equity.

In Indonesia’s case the equation is proposed as a 7/41 balance (7 percent growth and 41 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions).

During the same workshop, I encouraged panelists and participants alike to be candid in support of a shared commitment toward a more equitable, prosperous and green Indonesia. I emphasize this again because achievement of “low hanging fruit” and “quick wins,” while important, can distract from the longer and often arduous road towards realizing a better Indonesia, and a better world.

Reaching resolution and compromise acceptable to a myriad of sectors takes time, hard work and openness to accommodate other perspectives. We may all generally agree that we want progress or improvement, but we may not all agree on what that means, or the process through to arrive at “better”.

In the past two years, Indonesia has made tremendous progress in establishing a process to structure these discussions and arrive at a meaningful, shared solution. The value of the Indonesian process and its relevance to international negotiations is reflected by the country’s simultaneous leadership of the same on a global front, through President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s position as co-chair of the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Of great importance is that as these critical national and global negotiations take place, development gains continue to be made and resource exploitation does not happen at a pace that makes any possibility for sustainability a figment of the past.

President Yudhoyono’s extension of the moratorium for two more years affords Indonesia and, indeed, the global community, both the time and the momentum to fundamentally shift, together, how we operate and allocate natural resources in a more sustainable and equitable manner.

At the same workshop, Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the Presidential Work Unit on Monitoring and Controlling of Development (UKP4) emphasized the need for a paradigm shift that focuses to continually strengthen cross-sector engagement in ministries and between various stakeholders. Chair of the Indonesian Climate Change Council, Rachmat Witoelar, underpinned the importance of clarity of data to support evidenced-based policy making. Environment Minister Balthazar Kambuaya noted the important role of the UN in aligning global environmental and sustainability goals to the visionary but challenging ambitions set forth by President Yudhoyono.

All three of these components are foundations for strengthening and structuring both the discussions and the action needed to define a common agenda and support its realization.

As highlighted by Pavan Sukhdev, goodwill ambassador for the UN Environment Program, more sustainable development pathways need not be solely reliant on resource depletion, but can produce better economic gains with a focus on enhanced productivity.

This is not merely wishful thinking. International examples such as the Brazilian moratorium and Norway’s cod fishing moratorium have demonstrated the same. Neighboring Malaysia’s comparative yield per hectare in the palm oil sector also indicates the significant potential for Indonesia to enhance economic growth and output while securing sustainability. This calls for a continued commitment to explore and support the transition to more sustainable and economically beneficial practices, particularly in critical sectors such as palm oil and broader agriculture, timber and mining.

We must also ensure the solutions that arise continue to be derived from inclusive, fair processes that give all of us a stake in our shared future. In this area, the recent verdict of the Constitutional Court that effectively separates forests long occupied by traditional communities from classification as state forests.

The implications of this historic verdict will, no doubt, take time to filter through the system. Most notable among the implications will be in resolving and affirming contested rights. The verdict also contains the potential for empowering the rights of forest based communities to become more substantively engaged in sustainable forest management and supporting productivity gains for smallholders.

President Yudhoyono’s decision to extend the moratorium for the next two years strengthens Indonesia’s leadership role at a number of key global negotiations. It does so by demonstrating through actions, not merely words, that this country is walking the walk on global environmental issues and not merely talking the talk.

The unambiguous evolution of Indonesian policy on managing its natural resources and its environment since UNFCCC CoP 13 in Bali has been very well noted globally. In doing so, the nation’s credibility and standing as a leading nation of the world has equally been enhanced immeasurably.

The author is director of UNORCID, the United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia.