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
24th Edition :  15 December 2017

Welcome to the final news digest of 2017. We will be taking some holiday over the coming weeks – and we hope you will too.  You can expect the next edition in your inbox in early 2018.  Feel free to contact us if you would like any of the 2017 back issues of the digest.  We would like to wish our readers peace, good health, and success in your conservation and sustainable development endeavors in the coming year. Happy new year!
As always, we welcome comments, suggestions and corrections. If you would like to add colleagues or remove yourself from distribution, please let us know at <>.

Marine & Fisheries

Indonesia seizes Chinese fishing ship, arrests 21 crew members
— The Jakarta Post 5 December 2017
The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry seized Fu Yuan Yu 831, part of a fleet of illegal fishing vessels believed to be under Chinese ownership, and arrested the 21 crew members, who were allegedly found fishing illegally over Indonesia's eastern waters.  The vessel carried flags of six different countries, which it was suspected were used by the crew to deceive patrol officers.  “When we seized the ship, the crew raised the flag of Timor-Leste, but when the officers checked the ships, there were five other flags,” Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said at a press conference in Jakarta on 11 December.  Authorities seized 35 tons of fish, including tiger sharks, a protected species, Minister Susi added.  Nine of the 21 crew members were said to be from China, 6 from Indonesia, 3 from Myanmar and 3 from Vietnam.

Indonesia calls for WTO to regulate subsidies for large fishing companies
— The Jakarta Post 29 November 2017
Indonesia has proposed that the World Trading Organization (WTO) regulate subsidies from states to large corporations that run fishing businesses. Nilanto Perbowo, Director-General for Fisheries Product Competitiveness of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, said giving big subsidies to large companies operating on the high seas was unfair to small, individual fishers who can only operate in coastal areas, citing China, Spain, and Japan as problem countries for the practice, which he said has led to unregulated overfishing in international waters.  In a related move, Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti called on the United Nations to draft regulations to prevent overexploitation of international waters.

Indonesia could overtake Singapore in ornamental fish exports: Minister Susi
— The Jakarta Post 6 December 2017
Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti, says Indonesia has the potential to overtake Singapore in the export of ornamental fish, considering the country’s large maritime territory. “Data from 2016 shows that Indonesia is the fifth-biggest ornamental fish-exporting country with [global] market share of 7.1%, lower than Singapore’s market share of 12.4%.”  She added that her ministry was ready to cooperate with businesses and other relevant government institutions to boost ornamental fish exports.

Opinion:  The Dijuanda Declaration has more to offer
— Muhammad Taufan & Aloysius Selwas Taborat The Jakarta Post 14 December 2017
On 13 December, Indonesia celebrated Nusantara Day, commemorating the historic declaration by former Prime Minister Djuanda 60 years ago which articulated the concept that the tanah (land) and air (waters) of the Indonesian archipelago formed an indivisible whole.  The Djuanda Declaration provided the impetus for Indonesia to assert control over its territorial resources, which was then endorsed in the Convention of the Law of the Sea in 1982 (UNCLOS III).  The Djuanda Declaration should be celebrated in the same league as the Proclamation of Independence of August 17, 1945 and the Asian-African Conference in Bandung of 1955.  Now Indonesia’s maritime consciousness has been revived once more, under President Joko Widodo’s vision of Indonesia as a maritime axis; sovereign, advanced, independent and strong maritime nation, capable of contributing to peace and security in the region and throughout the world.  (The authors are officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.)

Forestry & Land Use

Government cannot save mangroves alone, environmentalists say
— Moses Ompusunggu, The Jakarta Post 14 December 2017
Indonesia is home to 21% of the earth’s mangrove forests, but almost two-thirds of that area has been damaged due to excessive land clearing for fish ponds and infrastructure, said Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) experts at a gathering convened by The Nature Conservancy in Jakarta on 12 December.  Dr. Dietrich Geofrey Bengen, blamed a lack of integrated policies for land and sea conservation and said cooperation between government and business will be required to secure adequate funding for mangrove restoration.  Mangrove restoration had been included in President Joko Widodo’s list of priorities, according to Dr. Cecep Kusmana, citing new regulations outlining mangrove management strategies issued in September.

Pulp and paper giant sues Indonesian government over peat protection obligation
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay 3 December 2017
A subsidiary of Indonesia’s second-largest pulp and paper firm is trying to overturn a government decision to restrict the company’s operations on peatlands.  PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), a subsidiary of pulp and paper giant APRIL, owned by billionaire Sukanto Tanoto, has asked a Jakarta court to repeal a decision that voided its work plans for failure to rezone peatlands in accordance with a 2016 decree requiring conservation of peatlands within concessions.  RAPP’s plantations overlap with one of Indonesia’s most critical peat-swamp landscapes, the Kampar Peninsula in Sumatra. In response to the decree, RAPP froze operations in October, furloughing 4,600 plantation workers, some of whom joined demonstrations outside the office of the governor of Riau Province.  The company argues that another article in the 2016 regulation states that business permits issued before the regulation came into effect remain valid until the license expires.

Editorial:  Promoting Legal Timber Trade
— The Jakarta Post, 7 December 2017
In early December, Indonesia celebrated the first anniversary of the licensing scheme permitting the export of certified timber products to the European Union without passing through due diligence checks.  Since its launch in November 2016, Indonesia has issued 39,078 FLEGT licenses for the export of certified timber products to 28 EU member states, with a total value of more than €1 billion.  The FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade) license was implemented following a voluntary partnership agreement between Indonesia and the EU to tackle illegal logging while improving forest governance and promoting the trade in legal forest products. With harmonization of export procedures, Indonesia will have an opportunity to increase its timber exports and ensure all segments of the timber industry’s value chain benefit, including furniture makers.

"Where are the trees?" Jokowi slams green programs
— Bambang Muryanto, The Jakarta Post 6 December 2017
Speaking in Karangasem Village, Gunungkidul Regency, near Yogyakarta on the occasion of Indonesian Tree Planting Day and the 2017 National Tree Planting Month, President Joko Widodo noted that the budget for tree planting at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is big, but asked:  Where are the trees?  The president quipped that the expensive ceremonial tree-planting events for one million trees, if executed properly, would see Indonesia swamped by green.  “Tree saplings 30 cm tall are planted with no funding for maintenance,” the president noted.  “How can they survive?” Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar said the government will provide 50 million trees to support the tree planting program, which has so far seen 2.7 million trees planted across the archipelago.

A new project aimed at stopping forest fires in Aceh province, Indonesia
— Chris Lang REDD Monitor, 8 December 2017
Led by industry group Carbon Conservation, the Smart Contract for Good programme aims to automatically distribute funding to villages in Aceh when they successfully reduce incidences of fire. The project will use blockchain and smart contract technology to automatically release funding based on satellite imaging technology or site inspections. “Maybe finally with satellite proof and smart contracts the villagers who conserve the forest of Aceh can be rewarded,” said Yusuf Irwandi, Aceh’s governor. US$100,000 has reportedly been pledged to the project. Carbon Conservation is led by Dorjee Sun who, the author notes, led the Ulu Masen REDD project.  Ulu Masen was validated in 2008 but has not yielded any carbon credits.  The author poses several questions to Mr. Sun regarding the structuring of payments, risks to project performance and engagement with local communities.

Energy, Climate Change and Pollution

Mission Impossible: Indonesia's renewable energy target
— Tabita Diela & Dion Bisara, The Jakarta Globe 6 December 2017
A leading opposition party figure stated that the Indonesian government’s 2014 targets setting renewable energy at 23% of the energy mix in 2025 and 31% in 2050 are “hardly possible”. Currently only 7% of Indonesia’s primary energy consumption is from renewables.  Aryo P.S. Djojohadikusumo, a Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) lawmaker from House Commission VII, which oversees energy, said that the government’s policies promoting sustainable energy, without easing investment in technologies such as power storage and smart grid technology, and without properly supporting expansion of state power company PLN, was “self-contradictory.” Aryo is the son of Hashim Djojohadikusumo, founder of the Arsari Group, whose subsidiary, Arsari Enviro Industri, is based in the renewable energy sector, and is the nephew of Gerinda founder Prabowo Subianto. World Resources Institute officer Hanny Chrysolite said the target is crucial to fulfilling Indonesia's commitments under the Paris climate agreement.  “Our studies show that emissions from the energy sector will surpass emissions from land clearing by 2026," she said.

Indonesia in energy crisis: Pertamina director
— The Jakarta Post, 7 December 2017
Syamsul Alam, Upstream Director of the state-owned energy company Pertamina, has called on the government to declare that the country faces an energy crisis now that it has become a net oil importer and is set to become a net gas importer by 2023.  Syamsul said that because renewable energy sources like solar, hydropower, wind and geothermal still play only an insignificant role in powering the nation, in order to meet its growth targets, the government would need to increase supplies of natural gas as well as petroleum.  “The government does not need to hide the condition of the Indonesia oil and gas industry,” Syamsul said, adding that Indonesia’s oil reserves were only 3.7 million barrels, about 0.2% of the global reserve total.

PLN Signs Renewable Energy Deals Worth US$1.5b
— Retno Ayuningtyas, The Jakarta Post 17 November 2017
State owned utility company PLN signed power purchase agreements worth Rp 20.4 trillion ($1.5 billion) on Thursday (16/11) with nine independent power producers that will build renewable power plants with a total capacity of 640.65 megawatts (MW).  The deal is part of the government's efforts to increase renewable energy in the country's primary energy mix to 23% by 2025 from just 7% today.  Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said the new plants include a geothermal, a hydropower, and seven small hydropower plants, and will bring the total power purchase agreements signed this year to 1,189.22 MW.  The government has set a target for PLN, which has a monopoly on power distribution in Indonesia, to secure purchase agreements for a total of 1,200 MW this year. "Developers' interest in renewable energy is increasing," PLN president director Sofyan Basir said, "therefore, we will persist with efforts to make it easier for developers to invest in renewable energy."

Resisting coal:  Hydrocarbon politics and assemblages of protest in the UK and Indonesia
— Benjamin Brown & Samuel J. Spiegel, Geoforum, Vol 85, pp. 101-111, October 2017
Indonesia’s most important coal deposits are concentrated in Kalimantan’s forested interior, areas inhabited by indigenous Dayak communities.  The IndoMet project, encompassing seven coal mining concessions on 350,000 ha in East and Central Kalimantan—initially managed as a joint venture between Australia’s BHP Billiton and the Indonesian firm PT Adaro—is already contentious, even though most of its area has not entered production and therefore has no documented impacts.  The concessions intersect with the biodiverse forests in the WWF-designated “Heart of Borneo” conservation zone. Unresolved issues around forest tenure and the criminalization of local inhabitants persist. Organizations such as WALHI have drawn attention to the government’s failure to respect land-use practices of local residents.  BHP Billiton’s departure from Indonesia, and sale of its Indomet shares to PT Adaro, was perceived as a victory for the environmental movement, but instead of bringing resolution, the move has raised fears that PT Adaro could be worse for communities than BHP.

Warning of greater global warming on the horizon
— Patrick T. Brown & Ken Caldeira Nature Vol 552, pp. 45-50, 7 December 2017
In a new Nature paper, scientists Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira present revised climate models that more accurately account for energy flows in the upper atmosphere.  The projections suggest global warming this century could exceed previous projections by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under RCP 8.5, the worst-case emissions scenario, by as much as 15%.  These results suggest that achieving any given global temperature stabilization target will require steeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions than previously calculated.

Conservation & Protected Areas

For Papuan villages practicing conservation, a bid to formalize the familiar
— Christopel Paino, Mongabay 14 December 2017
Indigenous Papuans of Saubeba village gave their support to designating Tambrauw district a conservation zone. For generations, the villagers have practiced a form of conservation, sustainably managing the district’s significant natural resources on which they depend. One anticipated outcome is the development of an ecotourism industry focusing on the area's rich biodiversity, including birds-of-paradise. Papua is currently the focus of a major infrastructure and development push, which could bring significant forest clearing, as part of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s commitment to develop eastern Indonesia. Plantation companies are also increasingly targeting the Papua provinces, which share the world’s third-largest rainforest with Papua New Guinea.

Indonesia takes step closer to countering biopiracy
— Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, The Jakarta Post 6 December 2017
The House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to include deliberation of a bill on natural-resources conservation in the House’s 2018 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) following concerns about attempts to steal genetic resources from Indonesia.  The new bill would lay out a legal framework for the protection of genetic resources, including sanctions for biopiracy, and stipulates punishments for those who exploit genetic resources or take samples overseas without consent. Offenders, including those who release genetically modified organisms in a natural habitat without consent, face up to five years’ imprisonment or fines of up to Rp 5 billion (US$ 369,825).  The bill also regulates procedures on sample-obtaining expeditions by requiring, for example, contracts detailing sharing of benefits and escorts for visiting scientists.

Reductions in global biodiversity loss predicted from conservation spending
— Anthony Waldron et al, Nature Vol 551, 16 November 2017
Conservation funding is a critical determinant of success in halting biodiversity loss, but uncertainty over impacts has hindered funding decisions. The paper uses regression models to show that conservation investment between 1996 and 2008 reduced biodiversity loss in 109 countries by a median average of 29%.  Measuring biodiversity loss using negative changes IUCN Red List status for all bird and animal species shows that 60% of global declines in biodiversity over 1996-2008 can be attributed to seven countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, China, India, Australia and the USA.  In the best-fitting models, countries which increased conservation spending strongly reduced their biodiversity decline compared to predicted levels, whereas GDP growth and agricultural expansion tended to increase it.  Conservation spending was more effective in low-income than in high-income countries, and had a greater impact in countries with larger numbers of threatened species.  The authors suggest their model could be used to predict the level of funding required to achieve specific biodiversity policy goals, but note significant variation in socio-economic pressures.

The world's newest great ape is already nearly extinct
— Basten Gokkon, Mongabay 11 December 2017

‘Bio bridges’ could save Tapanuli orangutans
— Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post  6 December 2017
There are only 800 individual Tapanuli orangutans living in fragmented locations across the 133,841ha mountainous area in the Batang Toru ecosystem, making it the world’s most critically endangered great ape. While the mountainous topography of the area makes it unsuitable for farming, large swaths of the orangutans’ habitat are at threat from other forms of exploitation. The biggest threat comes from the development of a 510-megawatt hydroelectric plant in an area with the highest known density of Tapanuli orangutans. The researchers who described the orangutan suggested that the project could harm eight percent of the ape’s habitat if completed.The situation is made worse as the population is split between western and eastern blocks in the area, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program-Ekosistem Lestari Foundation (SOCP-YEL) director Ian Singleton said recently adding that the construction of “bio bridges” to connect separate populations is crucial. South Tapanuli Regent Syahrul Pasaribu expressed his support for the development of the bio bridges, which have also received funding from The Body Shop Indonesia. |


Setya Novanto indicted for graft
—Kharisharc Kahfi & Narul Fitri Ramadhani, The Jakarta Post 14 November 2017
Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) first named Golkar Party leader and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Setya Novanto a suspect in the Rp 2.3 trillion (US$161 million) electronic ID-card (e-KTP) corruption case in July 2017, but Setya was able to avoid prosecution through filing a pretrial motion with the South Jakarta District Court challenging his status as a suspect.  After filing new charges in October, KPK prosecutors were able to successfully indict Setya on 14 December, apparently invalidating Setya’s efforts to avoid prosecution again through another pretrial motion with the South Jakarta District Court.  Setya was accused of receiving US$7.3 million and a $135,000 wristwatch from members of a consortium that won the tender for the publicly-funded e-KTP project.





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