The Launching of “Little Sustainable Landscapes Book”

by Fitrian Ardiansyah, 5 December 2015, Global Landscape Forum, Paris, COP-21.

Little Landscape Book

Picture: by Nienke Stam

The book is written collaboratively by GCP (Global Canopy Program), EcoAgriculture, IDH-The Sustainable Trade Initiative, TNC (The Nature Conservancy) and WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature).

My remarks at a panel discussion during the launching if this book are:

1) Transformation of commodities throughout supply chain may improve individual concessions and sectors but cross-sectoral challenges are still there and may need to be addressed further. These challenges include land legality, peat/forest management at a larger scale, water/ hydrological management, social dimension/conflicts, and improving productivity of smallholders.

2) Hence, combining productivity improvement and forest/peat protection is required to be done also beyond the scope of concessions. The scale we are talking about include a larger landscape level.

3) This “Little Sustainable Landscapes Book” appears to be little in its presentation but can have a huge impact since it can provide lessons-learnt and guidance for land use players and stakeholders to have a better landscape approach and initiative – and to collaborate meaningfully.

4) In the context of government leadership, not only national government, but sub-national level governments need to take the lead. Nevertheless, they need to be supported by the private sector as well as NGOs and communities to ensure that a healthy mosaic landscape can be achieved.

5) IDH, in our capacity, is piloting 7 to 9 landscapes around the globe and we have provinces in Indonesia that we are trying to support: i.e. South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Aceh. We believe landscape interventions in this province would entail components of better spatial planning, green growth plan, individual commodities/sectoral plans that take account sustainability, and co-financing/investment to improve productivity of small players and protection/restoration.

6) The costs/investment for landscape interventions, nevertheless,is enormous. Financial sources need to come from both public sources (e.g. government budget, CPO/crude palm oil Fund in the context of Indonesia) and private sources. If these can be combined, challenges in a landscape can be addressed in a structured way.

Copy of the book can be found at

The complete coverage of Little Sustainable Landscapes Book Launch Panel can also be watched on YouTube




Sustainable forest management and a healthy landscape

by Fitrian Ardiansyah, 3 December 2015, Paris, Indonesia Pavilion, COP-21, UNFCCC.


Fitrian_3 Dec_COP21

These remarks were taken from my presentation and discussion that contributed to a panel discussion on Natural Forest: Production and Conservation.

The key points are:

(1) IDH’s Tropical Timber Program has been working in three important tropical regions: i.e. Amazon, Congo Basin, Indonesia. We support and co-finance efforts of concessions and others to achieve certified sustainable forest management. In each region, the aim is to obtain 4 million ha of credible certified SFM (sustainable forest management). In Indonesia we collaborate with and support The Borneo Initiative and many concessions. The progress in Indonesia is that 1.5 million hectares have been certified (fully or control wood) and more than 2 million hectares are still in progress.

(2) We also work in the demand side, ensuring the uptake and market access of that SFM products.

(3) To achieve sustainability, addressing legality is a must and can act as a starting point. In our view, there will not be sustainability without legality. Initiatives like SVLK (timber legality verification system) in Indonesia should be encouraged and supported.

(4) Individual SFM and concessions are good but still insufficient, especially if we want to address cross-cutting issues and challenges. These include wildlife management and protection, fire, peat and water management, high conservation values and social dimension. These concessions – albeit having certified SFM – still need to work together among themselves and with other land use actors, including oil palm plantations, industrial timber plantations and communities. Based on this, selecting a landscape approach as a platform is imperative.

(5) In a landscape approach, not only regulations that would be crucial to guide collaboration, incentives need to be created so that better behaviour of land use actors can be ensured.

Please see the presentation here: SFM and landscape_FA_03122015

Note: Picture by Aristia Wanjaya

The uncertain future and our contribution (Speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014)

17 November 2014, National Convention Centre Canberra, by Fitrian Ardiansyah (Recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award), PhD Candidate at the Australian National University.

Fitrian Ardiansyah_AA2014_EmmaSoraya
Delivering a speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014 (photo by Emma Soraya)


The Honourable Dr Peter Hendy MP, distinguished academia (including Prof Richard Baker, glad to see you again), university staff, the Australian government officials and my fellow awardees,

Good afternoon! And congratulations to all my fellow awardees who – I believe – are excited to be able to finish our study, or start their journey to study here in Canberra. I believe we are also curious about our uncertain future when we are coming back homes or starting our study.

Well, let me tell you something, the future will always be uncertain, as the famous Albert Einstein once said “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” And by the way, this is also the framework and often stages of my PhD thesis, if you are uncertain with your thesis or study, this means you are in the right direction, because if you are so certain about your thesis or study, there is something wrong with your thesis or yourself. That is why when many of my friends often asked about my thesis, I often answered, well it was there but it was not yet there – with a big grin on my face.

However, I believe we all know that our future will be much exciting than our present or past. For those of you who were brought up by watching Star Trek, 2001 or many sci-fi movies in the 1980s (now you know how old I am), you would not believe yourself that one day you could communicate wirelessly, in real time, for instance. During my childhood, I remember vividly that the easiest way to connect wirelessly with someone else was to throw a scramble piece of paper at his or her head to get his or her attention, or really shouting from the distance like you are crazy or Tarzan like (without having to be naked of course).

I am an optimistic guy and hence I totally agree to what Mr Winston S. Churcill once said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; [but] an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I hope we can always overcome challenges in our future pathways and, in fact, change these into opportunities to make us better and to make the world a better place.

Well, one of the reasons why I am quite optimistic is because of my daughter, as you can see that I am taking her with me now (well, another reason to take her now is that I cannot afford anyone to babysit my daughter – the scholarship is running thin now :-). If I cannot change myself, my surroundings, my country and of course the region that I and we live in, the ones that will feel the most impacts, are her and her generations. I have been working and researching on environmental and economic issues and I believe we are connected to one and another and what we do, regardless whether it is small or big, will influence our life, now and in the future.

A good lesson-learnt while I was studying and living in Australia and discussing with scholars and many people alike is that you are the one that control your destiny. You are the one that can change the future of yourself and your country, and whether it is small contribution, it is still big in the realm of our world, especially if we do it together with our colleagues, friends and many like-minded peoples.

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito”. That was a quote from Bette Reese, an American officer and pilot.

With this quote, I will remind myself from now on to be as an effective person as if I am a mosquito, influencing myself and the world, bugging others with good messages, but hopefully not infecting others with malaria or dengue.

And with this as well, I will end by saying huge thanks to the Australian Awards and the Australian Government that provide this rare opportunity to live and study in Canberra, at the ANU, as well as to all ANU academia and staff, friends in Canberra and other states, my peers, that provide enjoyable study and research life that I will cherish for the rest of my life. To my lovely wife and children, I love you so much. Good evening and enjoy your night!

Fitrian Ardiansyah_AA2014_AndroPrasetyo
Delivering a speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014 (photo by Andro Prasetyo)


Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+)

Panelist: Fitrian Ardiansyah, ANU (10 minutes)


From ANU CAPPE (Australian National University – Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics) Workshop on “Designing just institutions for global climate governance”

(Canberra, ANU, 30 June -1 July 2011)


Original link:


Good afternoon Colleagues,


First of all, I’d like to thank the organiser, particularly Jonathan, for setting up this important panel discussion and allowing me to discuss before you about one of the heated topics in the realm of climate change negotiation as well as the nexus of climate change and development, which is REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus).


Before I move on, I’d like to present this slide, containing a picture which I believe often reflects on the view of some if not the majority of people living in tropical developing forest nations when they try to grasp the idea about REDD+. As we may have known, the governments of some tropical forest countries have been struggling to address deforestation for decades. If we take into account emissions resulting from LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry), Indonesia and Brazil and some other countries can be considered as major emitters.


On the other hand, addressing deforestation means changing, altering, adjusting their development paradigms and pathways, and this definitely is not easy for these governments. As you also may have known, deforestation and forest degradation have been mostly caused or driven by the development of at least four influential sectors, namely forestry, plantations/agriculture, mining and infrastructure. These sectors have significantly contributed to economic development of these countries as well as the global market. Timber, paper, soya bean, palm oil, sugar cane are to name few commodities which have provided an increase in the level of wealth in these countries. Hence, without a provision of economic alternatives or other positive incentives, it would be a herculean task for governments of developing countries to change their development patterns by stopping or reducing deforestation, which eventually reducing emissions.


When, at COP-11 in Canada, a proposal was tabled for the provision of incentives and other forms of support to avoid deforestation to be part of the climate agreement by Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea, and this proposal, after reframed, debated, negotiated and refined, was incorporated in the Bali Action Plan at COP-13 in Indonesia, and recognised as one important building blocks at the last COP in Mexico, many tropical forest nations see this as a hope to both tackling deforestation and promote economic development of the countries.


However, in my view, there are at least 3 (three) crucial aspects if REDD+ wants to be effectively workable addressing both emissions reduction and economic developing in developing countries. These are governance, financing, and implementation capacity.


Let’s look at the first important aspect, which is governance. Governance performance is important, since it helps stakeholders and actors determine whether their efforts would reach the desired objectives and goals. REDD+ from its early days has gone through and under a ‘multi-level governance’ process. At the multi lateral arena, it has, among others, the UNFCCC REDD+ related negotiation, the UN REDD Programme (UN-REDD) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Although, REDD+ has been incorporated as part of the Cancun Package, and widely recognised that without REDD+ the 2 degree Celsius climate stabilisation goal will not be reached, the faith of this initiative still depends on the entire negotiation to reach an agreement in a bigger context of UNFCCC. A tricky part of the REDD+ in the negotiation is that it does not only include deforestation and forest degradation, but also conservation, sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of carbon stock. The inclusion of these is believed to have been done to incorporate the interests of India, China and other similar countries. Widening the scope means widening the participation of countries, although this may not necessarily widen the actions to reduce emissions and this may complicate the methodologies for carbon accounting which could also mean undermining the credibility for emissions reduction.


Other levels of governance that is crucial for REDD+ are the national and local levels. At these levels, issues that can be highlighted include what sort of benefit-sharing or revenue-sharing mechanisms which are going to be developed and selected and whether these mechanisms reach those actors who are really protecting and managing forests, including indigenous people; what sort of policies put in place to address deforestation as well as drivers of deforestation. Also, the high likely debates are over baseline development, transparency, corruption, the involvement of wider actors, stakeholders, forest dependent people, indigenous people, etc. As you may have known, many developing countries have issues surrounding unclear laws and policies, overlapping of policies among sectors and layers of governments resulting in deforestation and land use change.


The second important aspect that I would like to discuss is about the financing side, again. There is a huge question about what consider sufficient and adequate when it comes to addressing deforestation, and, whether this money is compatible with money or investment coming in from other sectors which could lead to further deforestation. Just to provide you with a good example. The bilateral agreement of Indonesia and Norway as well as Norway and Brazil each provides the possibility of funds for REDD+ US$1 billion. Is this sufficient when at the same time, for instance, there is US$8 billion available from the Chinese Development Bank for the development of oil palm plantations in Indonesia. And, unlike REDD fund, where the money will come later one, the money for oil palm development is already available.


Hence, there is a serious issue of opportunity costs. Countries embracing REDD+ surely need to address the interests of sectors, actors, regions, etc., who have been left out or maybe negatively impacted by the decision of the countries to have REDD+ policies. For example, economic alternative or different types of financial support may be needed so that these parties would support REDD+. Non-state actors, namely the private sector and/or financial institutions play a crucial role, first, to add to the public fund. However, their involvement would depend on whether there is certainty about a scheme that will guarantee the future of REDD credits.


Otherwise, demand for REDD financing, and if this only depends on public funds, risk placing pressures on donor government aid budgets as well as budgets of developing countries, resulting in the potential redistribution of funds from existing development programs that may jeopardise progress made of countries’ development. Although, the continued investment in conception phase or early actions is critical to ensure that REDD+ initiative is well designed and administered.


At multi-lateral arena, the challenge of financing is also clear especially when it comes to the choice of the scheme for REDD+. There are at least 3 (three) schemes proposed, which are fund-based mechanism, market-linked scheme, and the hybrid model. Under a market based scheme, countries that reduce REDD emission below a set of a pre set baseline would receive credits that could be sold in the market and used by purchasing nations to meet their international mitigation obligations. Fund based scheme involves the establishment of international funds to finance REDD activities or to provide incentives for countries to address REDD issues. There are pros and cons about consequences of either scheme. Among others, these include the leakage issues, additionality, permanence, fungibility, sovereignty, property rights, representativeness, etc.


My last important aspect is the capacity to implement REDD+. The capacity that I mention here includes capacity to develop baseline or reference level, to monitor, report and verify the reduction of emissions, develop and manage an institution, to develop just and fair distribution mechanism, to engage with wider actors who directly on the ground dealing with deforestation as well as at other arena. Also, which is rather more important, is the capacity to enforce or willingness to enforce any given policies or schemes that involved REDD since enforcement or lack of it may be viewed as one of the major obstacles in addressing land use change and deforestation in developing countries.


In brief, I would say that REDD+ provides good opportunity for developing countries to reduce emissions, contributing to mitigating climate change. However, there are crucial aspects which need to be strengthened or reformed before REDD+ becomes operationalised and reaching its goals. I thank you.