Risk and resilience in three Southeast Asian cross-border areas: the Greater Mekong Sub-region, the Heart of Borneo and the Coral Triangle

Asia Security Initiative Policy Series: Working Paper No. 11, February 2011

Published by the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore

MacArthur Working Paper_Fitrian_and_Desak

Risk and Resilience in Three Southeast Asian Cross-Border Areas: The Greater Mekong Subregion, the Heart of Borneo and the Coral Triangle

By Fitrian Ardiansyah and Desak Putu Adhityani Putri


This paper investigates the security impacts of climate change in three Southeast Asian cross-border areas– the Greater Mekong Subregion, the Heart of Borneo and the Coral Triangle – through an examination of the ways in which climate change results in human insecurity and possibly social unrest, tension and conflict. The three cross-border areas are significant in that they host unique but threatened large-scale freshwater, terrestrial forest, coastal and marine ecosystems. In addition, they are home to more than 400 million people and provide important ecosystem goods and services to many countries in the region. This paper explores and evaluates regional agreements and actions in each of the three areas, with an emphasis on the mainstreaming of climate adaptation as well as mitigation in the development agenda. The analysis also points to the importance of reaching out to other actors beyond state and intergovernmental ones if adaptation and mitigation efforts were to succeed. There is a need to identify other actors, such as the business sector, local communities and the public, with the aim of getting them involved in these important issues.

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The original link is: http://www.rsis.edu.sg/NTS/resources/research_papers/MacArthur%20Working%20Paper_Fitrian_and_Desak.pdf


Dealing with climate change dangerous impacts

ROAD to COPENHAGEN, The Jakarta Post, Fitrian Ardiansyah and Ari Muhammad ,  Jakarta   |  Tue, 10/13/2009 12:11 PM  |  Environment

Climate change is a grave threat to the economies, societies and natural environment of all countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Indonesia.

Unless action is taken today to begin to stabilize and then reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – action including achieving an ambitious global climate agreement at Copenhagen – the impacts of climate change will become increasingly severe and irreversible.

Climate change can lead to damage to natural, communal and business assets. Some studies typically place damage in the range 1-1.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) per year for developed countries, and 2-9 percent for developing countries, if the average temperature increases between 1.5 and 4.0 degrees Celsius.

In his 2006 review, Nicholas Stern extended this estimation by stating that unabated climate change could cost the world at least 5 percent of GDP each year; if more dramatic predictions come to pass, the cost could be more than 20 percent of GDP.

Overall in Indonesia, the observed and projected impacts of climate change include an increase in the severity of droughts, flooding, fires, coral bleaching, the gradual rise of sea levels, and the increase in frequency of extreme weather conditions including storms, which will be destroying natural and human-made systems in the area.

Increased rainfall during the wet seasons may lead to high floods, such as the Jakarta flood in February 2007 that inundated 70,000 houses, displaced 420,440 people and killed 69 with losses of US$450 million, according to the World Health Organization.

Hundreds of millions of people live in Indonesia, most of who depend on resources, goods and services for their livelihood. However, climate change will profoundly affect biodiversity, water resources and the economy in the country, all of which in turn will impact its people.

One study reveals that millions of people are at risk from flooding and sea-water intrusion caused by rising sea levels and declining dry-season precipitation; these phenomena will negatively impact the aquaculture industry (e.g., fish and prawn industries) and infrastructure along the coasts of South and Southeast Asia.

The impacts of climate change will increase the pressure on forest, coastal and marine ecosystems caused by illegal and destructive logging, overfishing and overexploitation of natural resources.

Hence, the challenge that the government faces is finding ways to devise climate-smart development strategies that ensure the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation in the country’s development agenda.

Adapting to climate change means adjusting natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.

This demands not only the improvement of national policies – which includes devising climate-smart strategies and mainstreaming these in the development agenda – but also the increase in workforce capacity from national to local levels. To begin with, this requires significant amounts of adequate, sufficient and sustainable financing.

To protect natural and business assets from climate change impacts, the World Bank estimates that $9-41 billion a year will be needed globally. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calculates the need for $49-171 billion a year – to adapt to climate change alone until 2030 – in which $28-67 billion is required to help efforts in developing countries.

Unfortunately, the current provision of funds to cope with these impacts is yet to be at a level sufficient to meet these requirements. The Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) have allocated only $114 million, and the Adaptation Fund, established last year, can accumulate and provide only around $200 million. Some even predict that in reality only $500 million can be gathered for climate change adaptation.

With this dismal figure, Indonesia also needs to seriously prepare its regional and domestic plans to adapt to climate change. Vulnerable sectors – agriculture, marine and coastal, forestry and infrastructure – and areas need to be assessed and prioritized.

Cooperation among countries at the regional level is essential and coordination among sectors and different levels of government is pivotal for successful adaptation initiatives.

At the regional level, for instance, the creation of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) by six countries in the Asia Pacific is a good starting point for addressing climate adaptation in marine and coastal areas.

This initiative and its Regional Action Plan can complement individual countries’ actions to reduce the social, economic and biological impacts of climate change by developing adaptation policies and providing funding, especially for establishing and managing networks of marine protected areas and promotion of sustainable coastal livelihood.

Effective management of coastal resources through a range of options including locally managed regional networks of marine protected areas, protection of mangrove and seagrass beds and effective management of fisheries would contribute to a slower decline in coastal and marine resources as well as an increase in the resilience of coastal communities and the marine sector overall.

At the local level, encouraging news is coming out of Lombok. The provincial government of Nusa Tenggara Barat has carried out initial vulnerability assessment, predicting climate impacts and identifying areas and sectors most vulnerable to climate change.

It is a pioneering work because many climate predictions and assessments have been carried out at a global or regional level. The most important thing is that the results of this assessment were endorsed by the governor, and key elements of the findings are planned to be inserted in the mid-term development planning document of the province.

Reducing and coping with climate change impacts may be an endless struggle. However, some actions taken at the local, national and regional levels can further keep our hope alive to win this battle.

Fitrian is program director of climate & energy at WWF-Indonesia and adjunct lecturer at Paramadina Graduate School of Diplomacy. He can be reached at fardiansyah@wwf.or.id. Ari is adaptation policy coordinator at WWF-Indonesia. He can be reached at amuhammad@wwf.or.id.

Original Link:


Dire Consequences of Ignoring Climate Change

Fitrian Ardiansyah

Program Director of Climate & Energy, WWF-Indonesia

This article is published in AsiaViews (May-June 2007, Edition: 17/IV/May/2007), a monthly magazine covering Southeast Asia Region. The magazine is a joint collaboration between Tempo, Bangkok Post, Today, News Break and Malaysian Business. The pdf format of this article can be found here: AsiaViews_May-Jun07_8-9_Climate_Indonesia_FA 

Climate change is real and happening this very moment. Being one of the countries that will be greatly affected, Indonesia needs to get her act together to confront this clear and present danger.

This year, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released its three important working group reports. The reports clearly signaled that: “there are no doubts over the reality of climate change, declaring the proof to be “unequivocal”; the scale and speed of adverse impacts on humans and their livelihoods and on unique ecosystems are enormous; and avoiding dangerous climate change is technologically and economically possible but the time left to act is short”.

Using the IPCC model, Indonesia will experience an increase in the average temperature of 0.1 to 0.3 oC per decade. The increase in temperature will subsequently affect the climate and result in adverse repercussions on human and surrounding ecosystems, such as the rising levels of sea water and greater intensity and increase in the frequency of rainfall, tropical storms, and drought.

Due to the higher sea water level rise of 8-30 cm, as an archipelagic country, Indonesia could lose up to 2,000 islands. This would lead to a shift of the country’s boundaries and affect the security of the nation. As mentioned in the WGII (working group II) report of IPCC, it would also displace 30 million refugees world-wide and with most people living in the coastal areas, Indonesia will suffer the most.

In terms of rainfall, there is a prediction that the country could experience an increase in both the intensity and frequency of rainfall. This would shift the beginning of the wet and dry seasons, which will have a negative impact on the production of rice in Java and Bali, causing a decrease in production by 7-18%.

The change of climate patterns would also add to the already existing hazards, including floods, land-slides drought and tropical storms. According to the Indonesian National Coordinating Board for Disaster Management, in 2003-05 alone climate-hydrological related disasters reached 1,429 cases or 53.3% of the overall disasters happening in Indonesia.

On the other hand, when the dry season hits, the country could also face the possibility of prolonged drought and, in some areas where forest and land fires are still obvious problems, the probability of them occurring will be even higher. In just the one month of September 2006, there were 26,561 hot spots: the highest since August 1997 when 37,938 cases were counted.

The challenge for Indonesia now is to have the appropriate and effective response mechanism to address the issue of climate change. Both national and local action is needed in parallel with international initiatives.

As a party that has ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994 and the Kyoto Protocol in 2004, through the issuance of Law number 17/2004, Indonesia has taken some steps towards addressing this issue.

A good example of this is the development of a national institution to manage a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which, if utilised effectively, will enable the country to reduce greenhouse gases emission of CO2 up to 23-24 ton per annum (based on the national strategic study of 2001/02 to analyse the potential of emission reduction from the energy and forestry sectors).

Indonesia, however, still needs to further develop a firmer stance and take stronger action in several major areas. There is as yet no national comprehensive strategy, in accordance with the UNFCCC, to anticipate the adverse impact of climate change.

As one of the most vulnerable countries, Indonesia needs to do vulnerability and adaptation assessment and mapping in order to cope with the impact properly. This would help the country to identify priority areas, communities and sectors for adaptation strategy, planning and implementation.

Subsequently, there is an urgent need to mainstream the adaptation strategy into the national and sectoral development strategies and planning. Without this, Indonesia will develop its areas and people with the risk of developmental failures due to environmental disasters.

On the mitigation part, Indonesia needs to urge industrialized countries to cut their emission further if the global community wants to maintain the level of the increase in temperature up to 2 oC only, which will result in an impact level which can still be dealt with.

As written in the report of IPCC WGIII, to stay in the lowest CO2 emission ppm range by 2030, the maximum cost is 0.12% of GDP while the estimated total cost is some 3%. In his review, Sir Nicholas Stern warned that the cost of inaction is estimated to be at 5-20% by 2050, by far a greater amount.

As for Indonesia, the country’s contribution to the global level of greenhouse gases emission is gradually becoming greater, especially if emission from deforestation including peat land conversion and forest and land fires are taken into account. Some organizations believe that Indonesia is already the third largest emitter in the world if these are factored in.

There is nevertheless a window of opportunity for Indonesia and other forested countries to make a positive contribution to efforts in reducing emission from deforestation. The UNFCCC at its Conference in Bali this December is planning to hold formal negotiations to develop a mechanism in providing positive incentives with appropriate policy approaches for REDD – reducing emission from deforestation in developing countries.

Indonesia has a good chance to come up with a strong position and call for the development of the framework of REDD, create policies and measures to reduce and monitor deforestation and improve capacity building. Indonesia also needs to negotiate with different parties to gain support for an initial pilot scheme to address the issue of deforestation and the reduction of emission from deforestation.

If these action steps on adaptation and reducing emission from deforestations can be prepared and implemented seriously, it would send a positive initial signal to the Indonesian people and the world that Indonesia is indeed ready to cope with climate change and its adverse consequences.