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 – 19: 4 October 2017

Marine & Fisheries

Explosive plan for Indonesian fisheries
— John Mcbeth, Asia Times 26 September 2017
Feisty fisheries and maritime minister Susi Pudjiastuti may have earned a reputation for blowing up hundreds of foreign fishing boats caught intruding in Indonesian waters, but with the national catch now again on the rise she is going one step further with plans to ban all exports of frozen fish. One Japanese processing company is already moving its base of operations from Thailand to Indonesia as the ban takes a 30% bite out of Thai seafood exports, an indication of where most of that country’s actual catch comes from. Pudjiastuti also wants to turn 12 ports into processing points for direct exports. But all that requires intra-government cooperation, and in Indonesia that can be a recipe for stagnation.  “It’s like a book. The first chapter was about destruction and she did that brilliantly,” says former fisheries minister Sarwono Kusumaadmadja. “The second chapter is about reconstruction and she is finding that to be a whole new ball game.” Kusumaadmadja initially served as Pudjiastuti’s policy adviser, but he says she has now forgotten how to listen – just as she has taken to skipping Cabinet meetings in a show of frustration over the obstacles that stand in her way. President Joko Widodo can hardly fire his most popular minister. But he may have been tempted by fears that her rules on environmentally friendly nets now on hold were alienating the country’s four million small-scale coastal fishermen. 

Forestry & Land Use

Social forestry program goals not achievable, say NGOs
— The Jakarta Post 30 September 2017
Two Indonesian civil society groups the Indonesia Budget Center (IBC) and the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) have expressed doubts about President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s social forestry program, adopted as part of the country’s 2014-2018 Medium-Term Development Plan (Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Menengah Nasional, or RPJMN). According to the IBC, the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry (MEF) had only issued permits for 510,200 ha of social forestry land between 2015 and June this year, just 4% of the target of 12.7 million hectares (ha).  According to IBC researcher Maryono, the government should have been allocating IDR 830.58 billion (US$62.4 million) every year for each of the five years, but the average allocation over the first three years was only IDR 31.8 billion.

Regulatory challenges in peatland management 
— Grace Muhamad Al Azhari & Sarah Yuniarni The Jakarta Globe 
In a bid to tackle the recurring fire and haze problem, Indonesia took a tougher regulatory stance on peatland management in 2016.  Industry players such as GAPKI, the Indonesian Palm Oil producers’ Association, have been opposed the tougher regulations, deeming them “unfair” and claiming that they would “slowly kill” the industry that contributes so much to the country’s economy. However, investment in the downstream supply chain remains attractive, and while at the same time, “sustainability” is gaining traction in the industry.  “The investment that Sinar Mas has made over the last few years has really been driven to put the sustainability at the heart of their business,” Golden Agri Resources vice president for corporate communications and sustainable relations Anita Neville told the Jakarta Globe. Neville added that technological innovations like “cloning seeds” approved by the Ministry of Agriculture in April for full commercial use by industry players are now able to increase production capacity and “minimize the pressure on land expansion, which is one of the things that the industry esolution global dataset on rates of forest change to test the effects of deforestation on IUCN categories of extinction risk for 19,432 vertebrate species. While the industry players remain enthusiastic about their expansion plans, two reasearchers from Bogor Agricultural University calculate that in a business-as-usual scenario, production of certified palm oil (CPO) would reach 37 million tons by 2020, and plantation area would soar to
14 million hectares. 

Energy, Climate Change and Pollution

Indonesia unlikely to achieve 23% renewable target by 2025
— Rendi A. Witular and Rachmadea Aisyah The Jakarta Post 26 September 2017
With eight years left to go, the government has abandoned its hope of reaching its target to boost renewable energy for electricity and transportation to 23% of the country’s primary energy mix by 2025, as stated in Government Regulation No 79 of 2014. “We are still trying to achieve close to 20% by 2025,” Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan told The Jakarta Post, adding that the government would likely only achieve a 13-to-14% share of renewable energy in 2019, down from the original 2019 target of 16%. “We could achieve the target by allowing investors to produce [renewable] electricity at a high price, but is that what consumers want?” Currently, electric power generated from independent renewable sources sold to PLN, the state power monopoly ranges in prices from 6.52 US cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), as offered by a micro-hydropower plant in central Java, to 8.60 cents per kWh from a hydropower plant in North Sumatra.  In contrast, electricity from the latest generation of coal-fired power plants has a lowest selling price to PLN of 4.25 US cents a kWh. 

The Paris Agreement: Can Indonesia be the next Brazil 
— Grace Tjandra, The Diplomat 22 September 2017 
As of 2015, Indonesia’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) included an unconditional greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of 29% below business-as-usual by 2030, plus an additional 12% conditional reduction provided adequate international support is available. However, projections based on investment commitments to expanding coal and other fossil-fuel based sources of electric power suggest that Indonesia’s emissions are likely to continue to grow. 
Emissions from deforestation and peatland destruction contributes 60% of Indonesia’s total emissions. Like Indonesia, Brazil is a large and populous where land use change and the forestry sector are major sources of Brazil’s GHG emissions. Brazil succeeded in reducing its GHG emissions by 25% in between 2005 and 2009 due to major changes in policies and increased law enforcement to fight Amazonian deforestation. In order to meet the 1.5 – 2.0 ° C. target, Indonesia would need to follow Brazil’s example in terms of its environment-related domestic laws and enforcement mechanisms. 

Air quality in Jakarta unfit for athletes in next year’s Asian Games
— Agnes Anya, The Jakarta Post 3 October 
Jakarta is scheduled to host the next Asian Games (Jakarta Palembang 2018) in August-September next year, but the city’s substandard air quality could negatively impact the performance of athletes in outdoor events, athletes and activists said.   An estimated 58.3% of Jakarta residents suffer from respiratory illness such as asthma and pneumonia as a result of the high levels of pollution. In September, Airvisual, a real-time air quality index application ranked Jakarta third of the world’s most polluted cities, after Beijing and Dhaka. Ahmad Safrudin, chief of the Committee for the Phasing Out of Leaded Fuel (KPBB) said that it would be possible for Jakarta to improve its air quality ahead of the Asiad, but only if city officials commit to policies targeted at reducing pollution, including ensuring that all vehicles in the capital under strict emissions checks.

Industry and Mining

Freeport, Indonesian government butt heads over divestment of shares in Grasberg mine
— Fedina S. Sundaryani et al, The Jakarta Post 2 October 2017
Following reports of the government’s success in getting Freeport McMoRan (FCX) to divest shares in PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) sufficient to lower its stake from 90.64% at present to 49%, the two parties have encountered disagreements over the terms, pacing and pricing for the shares.  PTFI operates the largest integrated gold and copper in the world at Grasberg, in Papua Province. A sharply worded letter dated 28 September from FCX CEO Richard Adkerson to Indonesian Ministry of Finance (MOF) Secretary-General Hadiyanto rejected a proposal submitted by MOF, which it described as “entirely inconsistent with our discussions and understanding with the government.” In the letter, Adkerson refused the government’s proposal that FCX divest the entire 41.64% of shares to Indonesian national entities by the end of 2018 through a rights issue, countering that the divestment be conducted over several years, with the initial divestment carried out through an initial public offering which would provide opportunities to all investors, including existing shareholders, to buy the shares through third parties.  In addition, Adkerson also insisted that the divestment price must reflect the fair market value of the mining operation through to 2041, not 2021, as the government had proposed.  

Conservation & Protected Areas

Deforestation erodes biodiversity most severely in intact landscapes
— Matthew G. Betts et al, Nature 27 July 2017 
A widely accepted “habitat threshold” theory holds that biodiversity loss due to deforestation will be most detrimental in already fragmented and damaged landscapes. However, an alternative “initial intrusion” hypothesis suggests the opposite: that the effects of forest loss will be most severe for species living in relatively intact forests in their range.  This study uses a high-resolution global dataset on rates of forest change to test the effects of deforestation on IUCN categories of extinction risk for 19,432 vertebrate species. The results support the contention that deforestation is more likely to cause species living in relatively intact landscapes to exhibit declining population, or be up-listed to a higher category of extinction risk on the IUCN Red List than species which have already experienced significant habitat loss. These results have ramification for terrestrial conservation programs that focus on areas that have already experienced partial habitat loss.  The model enabled quantitative predictions of global hotspots where biodiversity is at particularly high rates.  Such high risk hot spots emerged in southeast Asia (particularly Borneo), central-western Amazon, and the Congo Basin. 

80% of Borneo orangutans in Kalimantan live outside protected areas
— Hans Nicholas Jong Mongabay 9 September 2017
A recent study led by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry found that 80% of wild orangutans in Kalimantan live outside national parks and other protected areas. The study estimated that only 57,250 wild orangutans remain in Kalimantan, approximately 13-47 individuals per 100 km2, down from 45-76 in 2004. If orangutan habitat is not protected, then it usually falls within a tract of land allocated to one or more logging, plantation or mining companies. Some companies try to conserve stretches or patches of orangutan habitat forest within their concessions, but others simply clear it. However, “forest islands” created by deforestation are often too small to support an orangutan population. In contrast, 65% of the remaining orangutans in Sumatra live inside protected areas.  Orangutans are protected under Indonesian law, banned from being traded or kept as pets. The report called for renewed efforts to halt forest clearing within concessions held by timber and oil palm plantation companies. The report said that companies should be held responsible for protecting orangutans within their concessions, rather than trying to move them to other forests or protection facilities.  

USAID Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge announces three winners of US$100,000 Acceleration Prize
— Sue Palminteri Mongabay 2 October 2017
The USAID Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge announced three winners of an Acceleration Prize of US $100,000 for rapid progress in developing wildlife crime solutions. The three winners are:
•       InvestEGGator sea turtle egg tracker.  A team from the NGO Paso Pacifico is testing and scaling up the concept of hiding tracking devices using GPS/GSM inside artificial sea turtle eggs to track movement of eggs across borders.
•       Genetic reference map for Pangolins.  A research team from the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology is creating a global genetic reference map for pangolins to make it possible to pinpoint the origin of pangolin seizures to find out where they were poached.
•       Monitoring and communication system for parks and protected areas.  The Zoological Society of London and tech partners have developed a new version of its Instant Detect System, which is designed to detect intrusions into remote reserves by people or vehicles and sound an alarm to rangers and other parties.  


Bali government to reorganize evacuees from volcano threat
— Ni Komang Erviani and Panca Nugraha The Jakarta Post, 30 September 2017
With continued warnings from the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) that Bali’s Mt. Agung is likely to erupt, possibly soon, the number of evacuees taking shelter in refuges and camps across the island now exceeds 144,000 persons, more than twice the total number of people that were believed to be living in the exclusion zone extending 12 km. away from the volcano. “Actually, in the disaster map, out of 78 villages in Karangasem, only 27 are within the exclusion zone,” Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said following a meeting to discuss preparations for the possible eruption. “This means that many of the evacuees are from villages that would actualy be safe If the volcano erupts.” The 12-km radius exclusion zone, which includes Pura Besakih, Bali’s most sacred Hindu temple, is baed on the patterns of pyroclastic fall and flow the last time Agung erupted in 1963. PVMBG head Kasbani said the probability of an eruption is higher than the probability of no eruption.  

Rumbles of Mt. Agung start to hit tourist arrivals in Bali
— Ni Komang Erviani The Jakarta Post 4 October 2017
“Around 70,000 tourists have canceled their plans to visit Bali [over] October and November,” according to Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI).   “As of now, we have not received reports of cancellations by individual travelers, only tourists scheduled to visit for meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE) activities, he said.  Most of the cancellations involved travelers coming from Europe and China.

UN denies that petition calling for self-determination for Papua submitted 
— Tama Salim et al, The Jakarta Post 30 September 2017
Despite a claim by Benny Wenda, spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in the Guardian newspaper that he had submitted a petition signed by more than 1.8 million people to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24), Venezuela’s permanent representative to the UN, Rafael Ramirez, in his capacity as chairman of the C-24, denied that there had been any communication with the Papuan leader.  “I have never received anything or anybody regarding the issue of West Papua, Ramirez said.  According to the Guardian, the petition apparently requested that the UN appoint a special representative to investigate human rights abuses and put West Papua back on the C-24 committee agenda to ensure their right to self-determination.  

Post Archives

2024 (10)
2023 (25)
2022 (26)
2021 (24)
2020 (24)
2019 (24)
2018 (23)
2017 (24)