Indonesia Sustainable Development News Digest

Starling Resource produces a bi-weekly Indonesia Sustainable Development News Digest email for circulation to a broader cohort of practitioners, funders, and experts. The purpose of the digest is to present readers with a brief, easily digestible summary of significant, recent news items, reports, and papers relevant to conservation, sustainable development, and the environment in Indonesia, compiled from domestic Indonesian and international media sources. The digest is produced once every two weeks throughout the year. If you are interested in receiving the digest, please let us know by email at or subscribe here

News Digest
2017 – 1: 1 January 2017

Highlights of the past two weeks 

This is the first issue of Starling Resources’ Indonesia Sustainable Development News Digest, which will be a bi-weekly (twice a month) compilation of brief summaries and links to pertinent news stories, reports, and selected academic papers relating to environment, conservation, and sustainable development and resource use in Indonesia. If you no longer wish to receive this digest, please let us know and we will remove you from the list. We welcome comments, suggestions and corrections. 

These are the main subject categories covered in the Digest:

  •  Marine & Fisheries
  •  Forestry & Land Use
  •  Climate Change & Pollution
  •  Conservation & Protected Areas
  •  Natural Resource Supply Chains
  •  Political Affairs
  •  Other

Because of the many significant developments late last year, the period covered in the first issue of the News Digest extends back to 1 December 2016. We would like to thank the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for helping make this News Digest possible.

Marine & Fisheries

Japanese firms keen on investing in indonesia tuna processing
—Jakarta Globe 2016-12-13
Increased harvest, attributed to the crackdown on illegal fishing, have highlighted the lack of capacity in local processing facilities, creating new opportunities for Japanese firms, Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti said after a meeting with Japan’s ambassador to Indonesia. Indonesia removed caps on foreign investment in 2016, making it possible for foreign companies to own fish processing plants outright.

US Importer eyes first Indonesian fish processing plant by 2017
—Jason Smith, ndercurrentnews 2016-12-02
PT Bali Seafood, a subsidiary of Maine-based North Atlantic, is building the first of four planned “fisheries centers”—processing plants which also cover microfinance, education and other support services—on the island of Sumbawa, company founder Gerald Knecht said. PT Bali currently relies on Indonesian suppliers for its tuna, swordfish, mahi-mahi, grouper and snapper. Indian venture capital firm Aavishkaar invested US$2.1 million in the project, while the social impact fund of Rabobank has invested $1.2 million.

Ministry to establish three offshore aquaculture facilities to produce sea bass
—Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta Post 30 December 2016
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) has allocated Rp 141 billion (US$10.5 million) to establish three offshore aquaculture facilities expected to produce an additional 1,500 tons of seabass (grouper) annually.  The facilities will be operated by state-owned firm Perikanan Indonesia (Perindo) and local fishermen’s associations, and will be located in Sabang, Aceh; Karimun Jawa, Central Java, and on the southern coast of Java between Cilacap and Pangandaran.

Ministry allocates Rp 1.4 trillion for fishing vessels, life insurance and port renovation
—Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta Post 2017-01-06
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) has allocated Rp 1.4 trillion (US$104.68 million) for the procurement of new fishing vessels, life insurance policies for fishers, and renovation of seven fishing ports, according to the Acting Director-General of Capture Fishing, Zulficar Mochtar. The life insurance policies are expected to cover 500,000 fishermen, while 1,080 new fishing vessels are to be completed by June or July. Ports slated for renovation include those in Jakarta, North Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, West Java, Bali and East Java.

Three New Fisheries Management Plans (RPPs) issued for three commercial fish species
—Info Hukum KPP 2016-12-27
Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti signed three new Fisheries Management Plans (Rencana Pengelolaan Perikanan, RPP) covering the following species:
—    Bali sardinella (lemuru), Kepmen 68/Kepmen-KP/2016;
—    Flying fish (ikan terbang), Kepmen 69/Kepman-KP/2016;
—    Blue swimming crab (rajungan), Kepmen 70/Kepmen-KP/2016
The new RPPs lay out priority objectives and target indicators for sustainable ecosystem-based management (EAFM) of the target species.

Tuna Price Fixing

Walmart joins antitrust suit alleging tuna collusion
—Jason Smith, undercurrentnews 2016-11-01
Walmart Stores has joined a class action lawsuit alleging that owners of the US “big three” canned tuna brands—Bumble Bee Foods, Tri-Union Seafoods (Thai Union Group) and Starkist (Dongwon enterprise)—colluded to keep prices artificially high.   Walmart claims it sold more than 25% of all packaged tuna products in the US over 2008 to 2010, the period of the alleged price-fixing.  The lawsuits came amidst a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice into anti-competitive practices in the packaged seafood industry.

Bumble Bee senior VP to plead guilty to tuna price fixing
—Jason Smith, undercurrentnews 2016-12-07
Bumble Bee Foods executive Walter Scot Cameron plans to plead guilty to price-fixing charges related to an ongoing anti-trust investigation of the tuna industry, the US Department of Justice said.

South China Sea:  Rising Environmental Toll of China’s Offshore Island Grab
—Mike Ives, environment360 10 October 2016
Marine scientists worry that China’s construction of artificial reefs and harbors in the South China Sea may cause irreparable, including reefs in the Paracels and Scarborough Shoal, which supply larvae for fisheries that feed hundreds of millions of people, and exacerbate the risk of a fisheries collapse in the South China Sea.

Forestry & Land Use

Study maps 187 land conflicts as palm oil expands in Kalimantan
—Rachel Diaz-Bastin, Mongabay 2016-12-20
A recent paper in Applied Geography mapped conflicts in 187 villages in Kalimantan, stating that at least half of the villages are opposed to oil palm companies.  Conflicts include land boundary disputes, perceived lack of consultation, illegal actions by the company, and/or lack of compensation and broken promises to the affected communities.

Indonesia remains largest source of illegal tropical forest timber
—IUFRO 2016-12-03
A recent report by the Global Network for Forest Science (IUFRO), found that Indonesia remained the largest source of both legal and illegal timber in 2013, despite decreases in the extent of illegal logging in recent years. Most of the benefits accruing from illegal logging and timber trade accrue to middlemen-processors, traders, financiers, and “local elites”, the report said, while as much as one third of tropical timber traded globally may come from illegal forest conversion.

Jokowi grants first “customary forest” land rights to 9 indigenous communities
—Mongabay 2017-01-04
The nine customary forests acknowledged as “hutan adat” by President Joko Widodo’s administration comprised 13,100 ha, including land which was part of a private concession in North Sumatra.  The Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) claims that more than 8.2 million ha of customary lands should be returned to the nation’s adat groups.  The action comes as AMAN contemplates withdrawing its support for President Widodo.

Consumer pressure to ditch deforestation begins to reach oil palm plantation giants
—Tara Maclsaac, Mongabay 2016-12-27
According to a report by Chain Reaction research, four of Indonesia’s top ten oil palm growers have improved sustainability practices due to consumer pressure since June 2015. But Nestlé and Unilever, two companies with relatively strong environmental policies were still sourcing from the two lowest scoring companies, while other growers have found new customers less concerned about deforestation issues.

Indonesia’s peatlands could generate Rp 214 trillion annually from carbon trading
—Jakarta Globe (appeared 2016-12-24)
Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (Badan Restorasi Gambut, BRG) estimates that peatlands could generate annual revenues of Rp 214 trillion (US$16 billion) from carbon trading, which can help Indonesia reach its target of reducing carbon emissions 29% by 2030.

NGOs launch first global ecological tracking system for deforestation commodities
—Fred Pearce, environment360 2016-12-08
Transparency for Sustainable Economies, or Trase, developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the UK-based Global Canopy Program (GCP), aims to cover 70% of the total production of major forest-risk commodities driving deforestation, including palm oil, soy, timber, paper and pulp, beef, leather and others.

KPK Targets illegal oil palm companies
—Ayu Prima Sandi et al, Tempo 2016-12-04
Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, KPK) has discovered that hundreds of oil palm companies in Riau, accounting for 42.8% of the total area planted to oil palm in the province, do not have the appropriate operating permits; a third do not have taxpayer ID numbers and have avoided paying various taxes, costing the state up to Rp 15 trillion (US$1.12 billion), while some of the land used for oil palm was illegally converted land in conservation areas or protected forests.

Export tax reintroduced on palm oil exports
— Indonesia Investments 2016-12-29
Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade re-introduced a USD$3 per ton export tax for crude palm oil (CPO) as prices surpassed the US$750 per tonne threshold.  Indonesian palm oil production is expected to decline 7.7% to 30.0 million tons in 2016, while projected full-year export volume also dropped 14.8% to 22.5 million tonnes.  The declines were attributed to the El Niño and La Niña weather conditions over 2015/2016 and the effects of a moratorium on new palm oil concessions.

Climate Change & Pollution

ADB lends US$400 million to expand liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in West Papua
—ADB News 2016-12-16
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed a US$400 million loan to help expand the Tangguh liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility in Bintuni Bay, West Papua province. The Tangguh facility currently supplies about 7.6 million metric tons per annum (mtpa), making it one of the largest gas production facilities in Indonesia.  The expansion project, which includes two offshore platforms and 13 new production wells, is expected to increase capacity by 3.8 mtpa.

The hardest part of dealing with sea-level rise will be the uncertainty
—Brad Plumer, Vox 2016-12-16
Sea-level rise over the decades ahead is expected to range from 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.3 m), but there is little likelihood that scientists will develop a definitive prediction as to how much, or how quickly this will occur.  Defences against the impacts sea level rise may take decades to finance and build, challenging coastal area government that need to start preparing now for significant sea level rise by as early as mid-century.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Local groups aghast geo-thermal energy proposal in heart of Gunung Leuser National Park
—Bill Lawrence, ALERT, 2016-12-30
Conservations are aghast at a proposal from Hitay Holdings, a Turkish Corporation, to develop a geothermal plant along with road access in infrastructure in the Kappi Plateau region in the core of Gunung Leuser National Park, which is designated as Zona Inti (“Core area”) of the Park.  Gunung Leuser is part of the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS), a 2.5 million ha UNESCO World Heritage site comprising three national parks:  Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Berisan Selatan. (see also and

Financial Experts Partnering with Protected Areas to Launch New Revenue Programs
—MPA News 2016-12-15
MPA News examines several case studies on how institutions with financial expertise are helping protected areas develop financing:  a) Restoration of Ecosystem Services and Adaptation to Climate Change in New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and French Polynesia; b)  WWF and the ‘Project Finance for Permanence’ model developed in the Amazon;  c) Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA), and innovative protected areas financing mechanisms, and d) a new US$48 million global MPA fund launched by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the Waitt Foundation and the Blue Moon Fund.

Natural Resource Supply Chains

Revenue at risk:  Why addressing deforestation is critical to business success
—CDP 2016-12
Only one in five companies assesses risks associated with deforestation across a six-year horizon, and fewer than half (42%) have evaluated the impact of availability or quality of key forest-risk commodities on their growth strategies over the next five or more years, according to a recent report by CDP.   The annual turnover at risk of disruptions in supplies of forest risk commodities for publicly listed companies is US$906 billion.

Political Affairs

Recent political protests in Jakarta
Recent mass protests in Jakarta, catalysed by Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s alleged blasphemy, were some of the biggest in recent years and were widely reported in Indonesia and around the world.
—Greg Fealy (Indonesia at Melbourne 2016-12-07) highlights the enhanced influence of radical Islamist groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the simultaneous marginalization of mainstream Islamic organizations such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah.

—Syailendra Persada et al (Tempo 2016-12-18) discuss Indonesian authorities’ struggle to distinguish between dissent and rebellion as Jakarta Police arrested ten activists for alleged treason just hours before the start of the biggest rally on 2 December. 

—Ken Ward (Asia Nikkei Review 2016-12-15) examine how the impacts of the Jakarta protests have complicated Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s prospects for re-election in 2019 at a time of rising public hostility toward China and the Chinese.


How to save forests?  Run them like a business, says this former Wall Street man
—Carolyn Beeler, PRI (2016-12-22)
Profile of Dharsono Hartono, CEO and co-founder of the Katingan Project.

Special Report: Education

Indonesia’s PISA scores still lag behind OECD and regional averages
—World Bank Group 2016-12-15
PISA test scores performance of Indonesian students continues to lag behind the OECD and East Asia Pacific averages on science, reading and mathematics by approximately three years of schooling.  More than half of all students were below basic proficiency levels in science and reading and nearly 70% were below basic proficiency levels in math.  These results place Indonesia near the bottom of the curve relating science performance to GDP per capita, with raw test scores close to Brazil and Peru, but well below other East Asia Pacific countries.


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