The challenges of environmental governance in a democratic and decentralized Indonesia

Authors: Fitrian Ardiansyah, Melati and Astari Anjani.

A book chapter (Chapter 6) in S Mukherjee & D Chakraborty (eds), Environmental Challenges and Governance: Diverse Perspective from Asia, Routledge (2015), Oxon.

Cover book

Please check this link to access the book and chapter:

https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415721905

Or see the pre-published version of this chapter:

6296-0018-006_FArdiansyah_Preproofread

Introduction:

Since the last decade, Indonesia appears to have increasingly put serious efforts into advancing its commitments in environmental protection and climate change mitigation. The Government of Indonesia (GoIn) led by its president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for instance, made a famous pledge at the G-20 meeting on 25 September 2009, stating that his government was devising a policy to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26 per cent by 2020 from business as usual (BAU) levels, and up to 41 per cent with international support (Melisa 2010). During his co-chairmanship for the United Nations High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Indonesian president re-affirmed the importance of environmental protection along with economic development and poverty alleviation (President of Indonesia 2012b).

To achieve its commitment for environmental protection and climate change mitigation, the GoIn has combined various approaches including by issuing domestic policies and programs, and providing economic incentives as well as reforming existing institutions and establishing new ones. A number of regulations and policies were issued by the GoIn on this front and the GoIn set up new agencies, in addition to existing ministries, to help deal with environmental issues. The GoIn has also attempted to provide economic incentives for environmental protection and climate change mitigation (Dhewanthi 2012).

Environmental degradation as elaborated in the following section, however, has continued to affect and threaten all aspects of Indonesian development and people’s lives. The forest and land fires during 2013 and their associated haze, which affected neighboring countries, is a good example of how an environmental disaster not only has disturbed the local economy and health conditions of local people but also can transform the relations of neighboring countries in Southeast Asia into one of the worst in the history of the region (Ardiansyah 2013).

The GoIn’s commitments to protect the country’s environment are ambitious, and to achieve the desired outcomes, it will need all support it can get. Indonesia’s political and governance system, however, is not homogenous. While some government agencies may be willing to collaborate, others such as local governments need to feel the ownership of such ‘ideal call’ and see concrete benefits to get involved. Since decentralization took place in the early millennium, significant powers now rest with the district and municipal governments, including in managing natural resources and the environment. This chapter, therefore, explores key challenges in realizing the country’s environmental management commitments in the current governance context. Prior to discussing regulations and institutions established to address environmental challenges in Indonesia, the following section briefly touches on the country’s state of environment and current challenges that Indonesia has to face. The third section provides an analysis of regulations and policies on the environment and other relevant regulations and policies. This section also examines the interconnection of these different regulations. Section four analyzes roles of different government actors or institutions, and non-state actors, namely civil society groups and the private sector when it comes to environmental management of the country. This section discusses the complexity, challenges and opportunities for these different actors and institutions to collaborate in managing the environment and natural resources in the country. This section also emphasizes the importance of the current decentralized governmental system and the challenges resulting from this system for the country’s environmental management. With an increase in the level of authority of sub-national governments, formulating policies, designing programs and coordinating programmatic implementation of environmental management across more than 400 districts in Indonesia are Herculean tasks for the GoIn. The chapter concludes with remarks that may help further reform in Indonesia’s environmental governance.

Keywords: Indonesia, decentralization, environmental governance, forest and land use governance, legal framework.

Chapter

Forest and land-use governance in a decentralized Indonesia: A legal and policy review

By Fitrian Ardiansyah, Andri Akbar Marthen and Nur Amalia, published by Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), 2015. Please quote as:

Ardiansyah F, Marthen AA and Amalia N. 2015. Forest and land-use governance in a decentralized Indonesia: A legal and policy review. Occasional Paper 132. Bogor, Indonesia: CIFOR.

for the pdf version (988kb), please see: OP-132_Ardiansyah et al_2015

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Synopsis:

This report is a legal and policy review of the powers of key government agencies and lower-level governments and the relations among these different agencies at different levels (e.g. the relationship between the local and central governments) in forest and related sectors. The focus of this review is to identify a particular government agency or level of government that has the legal power to make resource decisions in different spheres related to forests, land use affecting forests and/or benefit sharing, including REDD+. It aims to provide an understanding of the legal basis for the powers of such agencies or a level of government. The review also examines different key actors in each sphere (including whether these agencies can make certain decisions according to the laws and regulations), the differences among agencies, and the scope of authority of lower-level governments.

The review in this report contains an introduction and four main sections. The first (Section 2) describes the division of responsibilities and power across the different levels of government. It provides a general overview of powers (e.g. the extent to which they are permitted to legislate or make decisions) and responsibilities as established by decentralization laws and policy, budget distribution as established by law, and other relevant aspects. This section addresses issues related to the overview of different levels of government in Indonesia, including the evolution and process of decentralization; the definition, scale and scope of regional autonomy/decentralization powers; the powers shared among agencies at different levels; and other relevant aspects.

The second section (Section 3) is on financial resource mechanisms and distribution. It serves as a background for the on-the-ground study of benefit-sharing mechanisms (e.g. actual and potential with regard to REDD+). This section seeks to address issues related to the arrangement of financial resources and the powers and responsibilities over them assigned and distributed among the different levels of government. Such responsibilities include forest fees and other royalties, as well as any existing benefit or incentive schemes (e.g. payment for ecosystem services, or PES) aimed at maintaining forests or promoting sustainable forest management or REDD+.

Section 4 describes the role that different levels of government play by law in the following list of land-use decision or policy arenas affecting forests: (1) spatial and land use planning, (2) defining the vocation of the land and conversion rights, (3) the titling of agricultural land, (4) the titling of indigenous land within forest areas, (5) the governments’ ownership and administration of the land, (6) natural protected areas, (7) mining concessions, (8) forest concessions, (9) oil palm, and (10) infrastructure. This section uses summary tables as far as possible, describing the division of responsibilities among the different levels of government, including in the making of formal decisions, which procedures are used, and the division and balance of powers across functions (i.e. in establishing policy and norms, authorizing, administering, controlling and monitoring, and auditing).

The last section (Section 5) further explains the role and opportunities for indigenous (adat) law. This includes a review of the definition of adat law and the legal basis for communities making land claims based on such law. This section discusses challenges and opportunities for adat law to be further recognized in the Indonesian legal system.

Original link: http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/OccPapers/OP-132.pdf

In search for agreed land use solutions

Published in COAL ASIA MAGAZINE, OPINION, SEPTEMBER 22-OCTOBER 22, 2012, PAGE 102-103

by Fitrian Ardiansyah

To see the pdf version, please click: Opinion Fitrian Ardiansyah_CoalAsia_Sep2012

Searching for agreed sustainable land-use management in a developing country like Indonesia is a balancing act. The two recent government regulations issued this year, namely number 60 and 61, provide ample proof on this issue.

As a tropical forest developing nation, rapid development of forests – for forestry, agriculture, infrastructure or mining activities – in Indonesia has led not only to economic growth but also to environmental degradation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

If no immediate actions taken, the unsustainable economic growth may push the already fragile ecosystems in this country close to its ‘tipping point’ – a threshold in which damages to ecosystems are irreversible and causing unacceptable environmental changes.

This country is home to peatlands, savannas and the third largest of the world’s tropical forests, which are considered among the most valuable ecosystems in the world.

Indonesia is hence considered as one of the mega-biodiversity countries. In the 2010 State of Biodiversity of Asia and the Pacific, however, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) ranked Indonesia second after Australia as having the most threatened plant and animal species in the region. This is due to, among other things, high rates of fragmentation and net loss of forests that have continued between 2000 and 2009.

In 2009, data from the Forestry Ministry show that Indonesia had 132.4 million hectares of forest estates (kawasan hutan) and out of these only 90.1 million hectares were covered by forest vegetation – of this roughly one-third was covered by primary forests, one-third by logged over areas and one-third by vegetation other than forest.

To address the ever declining state of the country’s forests, the Indonesian government has issued the moratorium of forest conversion in 2011 and introduced the overall REDD+ framework – that include efforts to reduce deforestation, forest degradation, conservation, sustainable management of forest and enhancement of forest carbon stock.

Implementing the moratorium, REDD+ and sustainable forest management is of course very challenging given the pressures coming from variety of sectors that have interests in forest and land use – sectors which, furthermore, are often regulated under different ministries and layers of government. These institutions are known to have issued overlapping policies on land use and land use changes, and influenced the issuance of different documents and maps of forest and land use.

These respected sectors are, nevertheless, crucial in the development of the economy of Indonesia. They are the main engine of this so-called emerging economy.

Commercial exploitation of natural forests began in 1967 and was one of the main drivers of the Indonesian economy since then. Billions of US dollars contributed from the export of forest products on a yearly basis consisting of plywood, sawn timber, and processed timber as well as pulp and paper, furniture and other processed timber products.

With regard to agriculture production, especially the palm oil sector, Indonesia in 2009 surpassed Malaysia to become the biggest producer of palm oil in the world, with production accelerating dramatically in recent years. Indonesia’s CPO (crude palm oil) exports and resultant revenues have increased significantly, from 3.8 million tons (valued at US$1 billion) in 1999 to 17.85 million tons in 2010 (US$10.03 billion).

The mining sector also contributes significantly to the country’s revenue. For instance, it is reported that the mining industry accounted for 10.8 percent of Indonesia’s GDP in 2009, with minerals and related products contributing one-fifth of the country’s total exports. This sector looks set to post strong average annual double-digit growth of 11.2 percent in real terms over the forecast period to reach US$149.8 billion in 2015.

To date, many scholars agree when it comes to land use change – including forest cover change – in Indonesia, forestry, palm oil, mining and infrastructure sectors are the most important and influential causes.

Given close association of these development sectors with land use and forest cover change, agreed and appropriate solutions need to be identified and reached so that economic development can still flourish while forest protection is ensured.

The issuance of the two government regulations – the Government Regulation (GR) No. 60 of 2012 on the amendment of No. 10 of 2010 on Procedures for Conversion of Allocation and Functions of Forest Areas and GR No. 61 of 2012 on the amendment of No. 24 of 2010 on Forest Area Utilization – has been perceived as an attempt by the Indonesian government to find such solutions.

As analyzed by one law firm (LGS) in its website, these two regulations have been issued to address a number of outstanding issues with the regulatory framework. This law firm argues that GR No. 60 of 2012 simplifies land replacement for permanent or limited production forests by removing the “adjacent to a forest” requirement, and GR No. 61 of 2012 is intended to provide certainty for borrow to use license holders, allow strategic industries to operate in forest areas, and reconcile conflicts with the Law No. 26 of 2007 on Spatial Planning Law.

There are always two sides of the coin. In the context of GR No. 60, the supporters of this regulation argue that this regulation improves legal certainty for the development activities, especially agriculture plantations, to take place.

This also ensures that plantation activities using particular forest estates need to replace these areas with the same size or bigger. The regulation, furthermore, puts the threshold of forests that cannot be converted in that particular estate (30 percent of the total area) and explicitly mentions about the importance of ensuring the environmental carrying capacity of the estate.

With regard to GR No. 61, this regulation offers improvement of legal certainty for particular mining activities which have been operated or obtain licenses in forest areas.

Many critics, however, claim that this regulation will only jeopardize the future sustainable forest management and forest protection in this country. Some environmental organizations refer to the fact that rapid expansion of oil palm plantations, for instance, has caused the conversion of a significant area of forests and peat lands.

These organizations are backed up by some scholarly studies including the one conducted in 2008 that estimated that palm oil development was responsible for a significant percentage of deforestation in Indonesia.

A similar accusation is labeled against the mining industry. A study conducted in 2000 argues that the development of mining will result in negative impacts including extensive land disturbance, loss of forest cover and habitat, contamination of rivers used for drinking water and food supplies, and increasing social conflict over access to mineral resources.

It is clear that regardless of the issuance these two regulations, conflicting claims and arguments will remain.

The role of the government is critical to ensure that land use processes and outputs resulting from these two regulations are synchronized with the efforts carried out by the process put in place under the moratorium of forest conversion that has resulted in one land use and forest cover map as well as the overall REDD+ process.

Without synergizing these two regulatory and substantive processes, Indonesia will miss the opportunity to provide legal certainty for both economic development and environmental protection.

As a country that has committed to sustainable development agenda, it is important that the country is not just focusing on economic performance but also on the environmental and social aspects of development. This means that the government needs to provide guidance and push for sustainable and responsible practices in the plantation and mining industry’s operations.

Many has argued that plantations and mining operations which overlap with Indonesia’s forests, especially overlaps with areas of high ecological values, have already caused significant impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems.

It is, therefore, important for the players in these sectors, particularly the private sector, to show that they are as much as responsible and willing to improve their practices for the better.

Indonesia is at the cross road in showing whether the country can develop its economy without further harming its environment.

These two recently issued regulations show once again the challenge in achieving that balancing act.

——

Fitrian Ardiansyah

The writer is climate and sustainability specialist, a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University, and the recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award. He can be reached at fitrian.ardiansyah@anu.edu.au