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 – 13: 20 June 2017

Marine & Fisheries

Opinion; Fisheries performance under Jokowi administration 
— Faisal Basri,, 9 July 2017 
[Translation and summary] Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has depleted Indonesia’s marine resources and caused trillions of rupiah in state losses. The fleet of foreign ships in Indonesian waters were working hand-in-hand with big money mafias within the country. But in the three years since Jokowi’s commitment to defend our marine sovereignty, the fisheries sector has made a prominent contribution to the economy. For decades, Indonesia’s trade of balance in the fisheries sector was always lower than Thailand and Vietnam. Our trade surplus from fisheries is now the highest in ASEAN. The growth of fisheries production in 2015 (7.9%) greatly surpassed agriculture (-3.2%) and other tradable sector. 
If Jokowi’s maritime vision is carried out consistently, the marine and fishery sectors will undoubtedly continue to contribute to the progress of our nation. Our oceans are a natural free highway without barriers.  But while tougher policies at the sea have had a positive impact on the fisheries sector, people and companies which benefited for years from IUU fishing may feel threatened. With the power of money, they can maneuver to eliminate obstacles, and they are now starting to exhibit their ability to counter-attack.  Alert! Alert! 
(Faisal Basri is senior lecturer at University of Indonesia and former Economic Adviser to the President of Republic of Indonesia on Economic Affairs)

Government initiates procurement of six vessels as aid for fishers 
— LKT, Kompas, 28 June 2017 
[Translation] Government of Indonesia will start the procurement process for six 100-GT to 120-GT fishing vessels as part of its 2,090-vessel aid program for fishers’ cooperative in 2017. Director General of Captured Fisheries, MMAF, Sjaried Widjaja, said distribution of the 2,090 vessels is targeted to be finished in October. “Specifically, for big vessels, procurement will be carried out by an auction process, while the remaining vessels will be allocated through an e-catalogue, just like last years”. He added.

First Indonesian tuna fishery enters MSC assessment process
— FIS, 4 July 2017 
PT Citraraja Ampat Canning (PT CRA), an Indonesian fish processor and exporter, is seeking Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for pole-and-line caught yellowfin and skipjack tuna caught in the Western Central Pacific Ocean, a move which is garnering praise from the International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF). If this effort succeeds, the fishery could be supplying MSC certified skipjack and yellowfin tuna to international markets by the end of 2018.

Smuggling of lobster seedlings is on the rise
— LKT, Kompas 3 July 2017  
[Translation] Smuggling of lobster seeds has increased this past year. For the first half of 2017, the value of the smuggled lobster seedlings was estimated to be IDR 158 billion (US$11.8 million), or an increase of 120% compared to the same period last year. In June 2017 alone, police confiscated 273,191 lobster eggs with valued around IDR 35 billion. Muhammad Arifuddin, a research at DFW-Indonesia, stated that the rise occurred due to the high demand, especially from Vietnam which is suffering from declining fish stocks due to overfishing.

Fishermen offered 50b IDR to stop catching lobster seedlings
— Panca Nugraha, the Jakarta Post, 6 July 2017
[Translation] The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has disbursed IDR 50 billion (US$3.7 million) in financial aid to over 2,000 fishermen in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) to encourage them to stop catching lobster seedlings.  NTB’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Agency head Lalu Hamdi said the aid would be disbursed to encourage fishermen to switch to aquaculture instead of catching lobster seedlings in open water, which is prohibited under a 2016 regulation. NTB is known as a center of lobster and lobster seedling production, with over 10,000 families involved in the business in Lombok and Sumbawa.

Forestry & Land Use

Peatlands Restoration Agency joins forces with regional governments
—  the Jakarta Post, 7 July 2017 
Indonesia’s Peatlands Restoration Agency (Badan Restorasi Gambut, BRG) signed an agreement with Governor Alex Nurdin to restore 848,000 ha of peatland in South Sumatra province.  The province has 1.2 million ha of peatland, 60% of which experienced fires in 2015.  Similar agreements are anticipated for Riau, Jambi, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and Papua provinces. 
     BRG Secretary Hartono Prawiraatmaja said the agency plans to spend Rp 7 trillion (US$523 million) from the national budget to restore 2.4 million ha of peatland across the archipelago by 2020, with 700,000 ha slated for restoration this year.  Germany has joined Norway in providing additional financial assistance to restore damaged peatlands in South Sumatra and other provinces. In May, Germany’s state secretary for the environment announced plans to provide US$80 million through 2020 to support environmental activities, including peatland restoration in South Sumatra.

Unilever suspends sourcing from Indonesian palm oil supplier amid deforestation charges
— Edie newsroom, 29 June 2017
Global consumer goods firm Unilever has suspending sourcing of palm oil from Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (SSMS) and its subsidiaries, which have been accused of ongoing deforestation and clearance of peatlands based on satellite imagery.  Palm oil firms Wilmar International, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) and Apical had already suspending trading with SSMS.

Palm oil debate: why business needs to take a stand on palm oil
— Dominic Bates, the Guardian, 27 June 2017
With public confidence in palm oil fractured, brands which make a point of sourcing sustainable palm oil should engage with their customers more on this controversial topic. Both smaller firms and multinational businesses represented on the panel, which was chaired by the Guardian’s Laura Paddison, agreed that the responsibility for sourcing sustainable palm oil should fall on businesses, not consumers. “Real purchasing power lies further up the chain, said Hilary Jones, ethical director for the cosmetics company Lush Jones, who pointed out that companies are “far bigger consumers than the person trying to choose a jar of peanut butter”.  Jones asked if leading companies committed to sustainable palm oil are doing enough to win the public’s trust on its provenance.

Opinion: working together for sustainable palm oil 
— Christophe Bahuet, Jakarta Post, 16 June 2017 
Heated debates have surrounded the palm oil sector in Indonesia and its access to export markets, including the European Union. The issue is crucial for Indonesia as the world’s largest palm oil producer and largest exporter.  Roughly 16 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on this sector. Through Sustainable Development Goal No. 12 on sustainable production, the world has committed to ensure production systems don’t harm the planet. As the World Trade Organization’s Trade and Environment Committee put it: “The answer is not to weaken environmental standards, but to set appropriate standards and enable exporters to meet them.” At a time when almost all the member States of the United Nations, including Indonesia, have reaffirmed their unshakable commitment to the Paris Agreement, national actions and international cooperation for sustainable palm oil in Indonesia is more needed than ever. Under a global program for green commodities supported by the Swiss Economic Development Cooperation, the UNDP is determined to continue to contribute to this objective together with all stakeholders. Working jointly towards sustainable palm oil must be part of our common response to address climate change. It will also greatly help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which commit us all to protect the planet and improve life for all its inhabitants.
(Christophe Bahuet is the Country Director of UNDP Indonesia)

Jokowi to give 4,000 hectares of land to communities as social forest 
— Dedy Priatmojo & Agus Rahmat, Viva news, 4 July 2017 
[Translated] President Jokowi will allocate 4,000 hectares of social forest to communities at the end of July 2017.  As social forest, the land will under communities management for 35 years with an evaluation every five years and the possibility of further extension.  The program will be monitored by  the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs and the  Ministry of Agriculture.

Energy, Climate Change and Pollution

Coal undermines Indonesia’s food production
— Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Mongabay, 6 July 2017
Indonesia’s goal to achieve food self-sufficiency may be undermined by conversion of agricultural land into coal mining concessions, according to a study by the NGOs Waterkeeper Alliance and the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM).  The study found that 19% of Indonesia’s 44 million ha of rice-growing land falls within coal mining or exploration concessions, costing the country 1.7 million tons of lost rice production with another 6-11 million tons of current production at risk.   Conversion to coal concessions agricultural production results from land-use change and from the depletion and/or contamination of irrigation water sources.  The study included analysis of water samples from 17 coal mining sites and nearby waterways.  All but two had concentrations of aluminum, iron, manganese and/or pH balances likely to have a negative impact on agriculture or fish farming, and water in some of the samples could be dangerous to human health, but at present there are no standards for heavy metals contamination in water used for agriculture, according to Merah Johansyah, JATAM coordinator.

Indonesia “just says no” to Russian offer to develop nuclear power 
— M. V. Ramana, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 28 June 2017
In May, the Indonesian government revealed that Rosatom, Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, had offered to develop nuclear power plants in Indonesia.  However, Luhut Pandjaitan, the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs who made the announcement said he told the Russians that Indonesia was not ready yet “because we need to raise public awareness, which takes time.”  In their approaches to Indonesia, Russia, South Korea, France, China and other nuclear suppliers have focused on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) because of their suitability for use in remote regions with less developed infrastructure, such as individual small islands, as well as lower construction cost, lower rate of radioactive waste generation, higher level of safety, and reduced opportunity for nuclear weapons proliferation.  However, no SMRs are currently in operation, and none of the SMR designs currently under development completely fulfils all these requirements.

From beef to palm oil, investors worry about food industry climate risk 
— Georgina Gustin, Insideclimatenews, 5 July 2017
The number of climate-related shareholder resolutions filed with food and beverage companies in the US rose from 12 in 2011 to 131 this year.  Most focused on deforestation linked to supply chains, particularly for commodities such as palm oil, beef and soy, according to Ceres, a sustainability advocacy group.  In May, 62% of ExxonMobil shareholders defied management to vote to require the company to report annually on the impacts of climate change to its business.  An unsuccessful vote last year garnered only 38% support.  Shareholders have also voted for more climate change disclosure at two other major energy companies, Occidental Petroleum and PPL, Pennsylvania’s largest utility.  Last week, the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, chaired by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, issued a framework for corporations to use in disclosing climate-related risk to investors, lenders and underwriters.
Following energy, the food sector is likely to be the next frontier as investors become more aware of financial risks stemming from sustainability challenges like climate change.  A 2015 survey by CDP found that 90% of 97 food, beverage and tobacco companies representing 822 institutional investors said that their businesses were vulnerable to climate change impacts.  Tyson Foods, which has seen 11 shareholder proposals linked to its supply chain since 2011, recently said it would adopt science-based goals for water conservation and greenhouse gas emissions.

Cap on coal output gains support
— Viriya P. Singgih and Fedina S. Sundaryani, The Jakarta Post, 29 June 2017
Business players have thrown their support behind the government’s plan to set a cap on coal production, a move they believe could lead to stronger coal prices. Indonesian Coal Mining Association (APBI) executive director Supriatna Suhala said businesses agreed to control coal production and meet the domestic market obligation (DMO) while Indonesian Mining Association (IMA) chairman Ido Hutabarat said his association supported the government’s plan because coal would remain the cheapest source of energy for years to come.  “Major coal producers are starting to preserve supply for their own domestic markets, including China and India, though they still need imports.  This is something that Indonesia can follow in a bid to maintain coal supply, let’s say, for the next 50 years.” 

Megapower eyes more hydropower plants after going public
— dis, the Jakarta Post 6 July 2017 
Newly listed electricity company PT Megapower Makmur (MPOW) will use part of the proceeds from its initial public offering (IPO) to build two more mini-hydropower plants within the next five years. The company’s president director, Kang Jimmi, said in Jakarta on Wednesday that MPOW was exploring the possibility of developing two more hydropower plants in South Sulawesi as part of its expansion into the power generation business.

Government named Flores as a Geothermal Island
— Gemal AN Panggbean, Bisnis, the Jakarta Post 6 July 2017 
[Translation] Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has named Flores as a geothermal island for its geothermal potential. Out of 16 biggest potential geothermal hotspots, only two geothermal power plants have been developed on Flores, with a combined capacity of just 12.5 MW" said Rida Mulyana, Director General for New and Renewable Energy & Energy Conservation at the ministry. Mulyana said the island has geothermal potential of 902 MW or approximately 65% of the total geothermal in East Nusa Tenggara.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Harry Potter may have sparked illegal owl trade in Indonesia 
— Inga Vesper, Nature, 28 June 2017 
The number of owls traded illegally on Indonesian markets has risen sharply in the past two decades, and researchers believe popularity of the Harry Potter books and films may be fueling the trend. Wildlife researchers who surveyed 20 bird markets on the islands of Bali and Java say that the number of owls sold annually has risen dramatically; from perhaps a few hundred a year before 2001 to 13,000 by 2016. Richard Thomas from the UK-based network Traffic, which monitors wildlife trafficking, says that the issue is complex and it’s “not possible to say unequivocally” that the cause is Harry Potter. However, a 2015 report from Traffic on Indonesia’s bird markets also noted the jump in owl sales, and suggested that the rise in demand could be down to the popularity of the fictional character.

Papua governor takes birds-of-paradise off the market 
— Asrida Elisabeth, Mongabay, 26 June 2017
Papua Governor Lukas Enembe has issued a circular letter banning the use of feathers or other body parts of birds-of-paradise—members of the family Paradisaeidae— except in traditional ceremonies. Hunting and loss of habitat have contributed toward pushing some birds-of-paradise species to the brink of extinction. To implement the ban, the provincial government plans to issue a regulation specifying the consequences for violating the ban, which will initially be used to prohibit the sale of products made from bird-of-paradise parts.

Indonesia’s most famous dive site is also a playground for whales and dolphins (commentary) 
—  Heike Iris Vester & Ricardo F. Tapilatu, Mongabay, 27 June 2017 

Half of the 31 whale and dolphin species found in all of Indonesia — 16 different taxa — have been regularly observed in Raja Ampat, an island chain in Indonesia’s West Papua province renowned for its beautiful and unique marine biodiversity. However, a designated long-term study of the behavior of whales and dolphins there has yet to be conducted.


Indonesia among top 25 countries in food sustainability index
— Antara News, 4 July 2017 
Minister of Agriculture Amran Sulaiman stated on Monday that Indonesia was included among the top 25 countries in the Food Sustainability Index (FSI). The FSI, released by the UKs Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) as well as Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), showed Indonesia in the 21st position. The top three countries were France, Australia, and South Africa.  In June 2016, the EIU research institute released a report ranking Indonesia 71st out of 133 countries with a score of 2.7 and stating that Indonesia had exhibited the highest increase in Global FSI.




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