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
10th Edition :  23 May 2018

The Indonesia Sustainable Development News Digest will take a one-issue break to observe the Eid al-Fitr (Lebaran) holidays in Indonesia. The next issue will appear on or about 19 June 2018.
If you would like to add colleagues or remove yourself from distribution, please let us know at <>. We welcome comments, suggestions and corrections.

Marine & Fisheries

What’s in Indonesia’s Indo-Pacific cooperation concept?
− Jansen Tham, The Diplomat 16 May 2018
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi unveiled a new concept of ASEAN Indo-Pacific cooperation which stressed the need for ASEAN to respond with a united front to emerging regional issues. The proposal was significant for three reasons. First, Jakarta’s leading role in developing this concept cements its status as ASEAN’s unofficial leader and strengthens its international brand as a global maritime axis. Second, the concept helps entrench ASEAN’s centrality by placing the regional bloc in the driver’s seat in managing regional geopolitics and addressing the security and economic challenges facing the larger Indo-Pacific region. Third, at the international level, the proposal of a cogent Indo-Pacific partnership strategy serves to offset great power politics by providing a point of view independent of the United States, China, or other interested powers such as India, Japan, or Australia. Nonetheless, major questions still remain regarding the applicability and feasibility of Jakarta’s new Indo-Pacific concept.

Indonesian fishing vessels rescued under UK-Indonesia satcomm partnership scheme
− Deyana Goh, Spacetech 14 May 2018 A
number of Indonesian fishing vessels have been rescued thanks to their participation in a pilot project between the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), the UK Space Agency, and a consortium of private telecommunications companies led by Inmarsat. Part of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Program (IPP), the pilot scheme aims to reduce illegal fishing in Indonesia, the world’s second largest capture fisheries producer after China. The program also seeks to reduce unsustainable fishing and improve safety and livelihood security for Indonesian fishing communities. As part of the pilot scheme, 200 small boats in Indonesia were fitted with a satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) utilizing Inmarsat’s Machine-to-Machine (M2M) service IsatData Pro. Through the VMS, fishermen have been able to communicate more easily, as well as receive near real-time fishing data.

Ten Points regarding the proposed revision of Indonesia’s current Fisheries Law
− [translated] Tane Hadiyantono, Kontan 21 May 2018
Revision of the current Fisheries Law, now under review by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and the House of Representatives (DPR), is intended make Indonesian fishers more self-sufficient and to provide stricter supervision to the industry. The bill is expected to be finalized in January 2019. The ten points regarding the fisheries law revision are as follows:

  1. Foreign investment in fisheries businesses, use of foreign vessels, and the use of vessel manufactured abroad are prohibited.
  2. Employment of foreigners to work as captains or crew of fishing vessels is prohibited.
  3. Transhipment of fish is prohibited.
  4. International cooperation will emphasize information and technology development, but joint venture management of fisheries businesses will be abolished.
  5. In case of wrong-doing, corporations, owner(s) of shares and members of boards of directors/commissioners shall share criminal liability.
  6. The “right of the sea” and empowerment of communities to protect that right shall be recognized.
  7. Fishery workers’ human right shall be protected.
  8. Provision for destruction of illegal vessels by sinking.
  9. Utilization, exploitation, and/or trade in fishery genetic resources is prohibited.
  10. Management of small-scale fishers.

Call for Taiwan to end abuse of migrant fishermen
− Maritime Executive 19 May 2018
The NGO coalition Human Rights for Migrant Fishers has called on the government of Taiwan to improve conditions for migrant workers on fishing vessels who are facing serious human rights abuses on Taiwan fishing vessels.  The situation could undermine the government of Taiwan’s New South-Bound Policy to enhance cooperation and exchanges with other Southeast Asian countries. However, migrant fishers, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines, continue to endure abuse on Taiwanese vessels because of the lack of appropriate laws, transparency and labor inspection measures, according to a joint statement issued by a group of seven NGOs, including the Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan Seamen and Fishermen’s Service Center, Serve the People Association, the Taiwan International Workers' Association, Taiwan Association for Human Rights and the Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union.

Forestry & Land Use

Greenpeace breaks up with APP after investigation links paper firm to deforestation
− Robin Hicks, Eco-Business 17 May 2018
Greenpeace has backed away from the landmark agreement to halt campaigns against Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper firm which had followed APP’s adoption of a zero-deforestation policy in 2013. Greenpeace, which played a key role in the development of APP’s Forest Conversation Policy (FCP), claimed in a statement that the company had continued to harvest rainforests since making its zero deforestation pledge, cutting down more than 8,000 hectares of rainforest through undeclared affiliates. APP has stated that it has no ties with the firms responsible for the deforestation, but an Associated Press investigation tied the environmentally- destructive firms to employees of Sinar Mas, the Indonesia-listed corporation which owns APP. APP was “disappointed” by Greenpeace’s decision, claiming that the green group had “expanded the issue to the rest of the Sinar Mas Group, which is outside the scope of APP’s FCP.”

Typographical error derails landmark ruling against Indonesian palm oil firm
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay 15 May 2018
A district court in Indonesia has issued a ruling shielding an oil palm company, PT Kalista Alam from a Supreme Court ruling that would have required it to pay $26.5 million in fines for burning peatlands in a high-biodiversity area, citing a typographical error in the original prosecution documents. In 2015, the Meulaboh District Court in Aceh Province found PT Kallista Alam guilty of using fire to clear 10 square kilometers of land in the Tripa peat swamp on the northwest coast of Sumatra.  However, in April, following unsuccessful appeals by the company, the same district court set aside the original verdict because of a typographical error in the prosecution documents. The government is now appealing the latest ruling, which, ironically, is replete with typos that under the same legal logic would render it just as invalid as the original guilty verdict.  Activists are worried PT Kallista may never pay the fine, and that there will be no funds to restore the destroyed area in Tripa.

Fighting for the future of palm oil
− Muhammad Al Azhari, Globe Asia May issue
The palm oil industry is the pride of the nation, providing sustenance for up to 50 million Indonesians, and serves as the nation’s largest source of foreign exchange, yet internationally it is linked to deforestation, climate change, destruction of biodiversity and labor abuses.  “We feel the nuance in Europe is more political,” said Joko Supriyono, chairman of the the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) and Vice President Director at PT Astro Agra Lestari. The Indonesian palm oil community was relieved when the European Court of Justice ruled against imposing anti-dumping duties that had shrunk Indonesian biodiesel imports from USD 1b in 2012 to just $14m in 2015. “For the US,” which also has punitive import duties, “I think it is purely a misunderstanding” said Supriyono, referring to the role of the quasi-governmental Oil Palm Plantation Fund Management Agency. Against these headwinds, the Indonesian government is helping, requiring all biodiesel to contain 20% bio-content. (The May Issue of Globe Asia also includes an interview with Dono Boestami, head of the Indonesian Palm Oil Estate Fund (BPDP KS), and a piece on Golden Agri Resources approach to sustainability.)

Government finalizes first ‘state of Indonesia`s forest’ publication
− Tempo, 15 May 2018
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry is about to publish the first ‘State of Indonesia`s Forests’ (National SOFO) publication in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The publication will highlight successful efforts by the government of Indonesia to promote good governance of sustainable forest management.  This publication will also support the prevention of deforestation and degradation of forestry resources and help ensure environmental justice and equality of opportunity for all members of Indonesia’s communities, including communities of indigenous people.  The publication, currently under technical review, is expected to appear in late June 2018.

2018 will not see a repeat of the 2015 haze crisis: Indonesian Minister
− Audrey Tan, The Strait Times 18 May 2018
The 2015 haze crisis is unlikely to be repeated this year, according to Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia's Minister of National Development Planning, attending at the fifth Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources in Singapore on May 18.  Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Dr. Samadhi Nirarta Samadhi, Indonesia Country Director for the World Resources Institute pointed to three ways the Indonesian government has demonstrated its commitment to dealing with the haze issue. The first was the formation in 2016 of the Peatland Restoration Agency, which is tasked with restoring Indonesia's carbon-rich peatlands. The Indonesian government also conducted mapping exercises using Lidar technology to provide data on water levels in peat forests. When water table levels are too low, the peatlands become more flammable.  Sub-national elections in Indonesia could also contribute to the haze-free skies, as local politicians would have greater incentive to prevent fires, Dr Samadhi said.

Balancing forests against livelihoods
− Arif Suyobuwono, The Jakarta Post 15 May 2018
Tangkahan’s loggers in Leuser National Park, North Sumatra and indigenous people living on the periphery of Cendrawasih Bay in Papua and West Papua both see forests mainly for their money-making potential while viewing biodiversity as a meaningless, abstract intellectual idea they are not interested in unless it can make them a profit. In Papua, members of one forest clan cut down trees used by Birds of Paradise to express anger at people who were paid for escorting foreign bird watchers but shared none or too little of the proceeds.  But the situation in Tangkahan improved considerably when illegal loggers abandoned their unsustainable businesses and embrace elephant-centered ecotourism as new source of livelihood. In addition, Ministry of Forestry initiated a partnership with government with the former settlers for an initial period of 10 years. Under this partnership, they are required to grow crops such as sugar palm, candle nut, avocado, jackfruit-like cempedak and jengkol (dogfruit). 

Energy, Climate Change & Pollution

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani: Government has disbursed Rp39 trillion for energy subsidy
− Tempo, 18 May 2018
The Indonesian government has disbursed Rp 39.2 trillion (US$ 2.78 billion) for electricity and fuel oil subsidies, about 23% of the Rp 165.1 trillion amount budgeted for ministries and agencies in 2018, according to Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani. Of the disbursed amount, Rp 26 trillion (US$ 1.84 billion) was paid to Pertamina, the state-owned petroleum corporation. Sri Mulyani said the government is consistent in paying energy subsidies to support PLN and Pertamina's as enterprises that supply energy to the public.  The Finance Ministry's director general of budgetary Askolani said that the government has also paid debts owed to Pertamina and PLN, amounting to Rp 22 trillion (US$ 1.56 billion) and Rp 7.3 trillion US$ 516.4 million) respectively. The remaining subsidy debts will be paid back in stages until 2019.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya challenges Freeport’s handing of mine wastes
— [translated] Khairul Anam, Tempo Magazine 7-13 May 2018
Freeport-McMoRan CEO Richard Adkerson protested decrees issued by Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar in April blocking activities at the company’s Freeport Mine in Papua that were not covered by an environmental license and halting further violations related to disposal of mine tailings. Adkerson said the ministerial decision were politically motivated.  “This jeopardizes Freeport’s basic operations.” According to Il’yas Asad, a Ministry official, Freeport produced 253 million tons of mining waste between 1972 and 1997, of which 8 million tons settled in the Ajkwa River and as much as 131 million tons flow into the Arafura Sea. Il-yas said the company’s recent dumping of mine tailings violated a 2008 decree mandating limits on the concentrations of dangerous compounds in tailings and prohibiting emissions into the Arafura Sea.  Freeport-McMoRan representatives disputed the government’s estimation of environmental damages at more than Rp185 trillion (US$ 13.1 billion).

Global surge in air-conditioning stokes electricity demand
− Ed Crooks, Financial Times 15 May 2018
The wider use of air-conditioning in hot countries is set to create a huge increase in demand for electricity.  “This is one of the most critical blind spots in international energy policy,” according to Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).  Under the IEA’s baseline scenario, the worldwide number of cooling units, including air-conditioners, fans and dehumidifiers, is expected to rise from 3.4 billion in 2016 to 8 billion by 2050. About 2 billion new air-conditioning units are expected to be installed in China and India alone, with significant growth also in Africa where usage today is low. The result is likely to be tripling of global demand for electric power for cooling, from 2,020 terawatt hours in 2016 to 6,200 TWh in 2050, with half the global increase coming from just three countries: China, India and Indonesia.

After coal, government pushes DMO on gas for electricity
− Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post 17 May 2018
The Indonesian government is going forward with a plan to introduce a domestic market obligation (DMO) policy for gas to reduce electricity prices.  The DMO policy, introduced in the coal sector earlier this year, requires producers to supply production to the domestic market under a government-fixed price cap.  Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Electricity Director General Andy N. Sommeng said that the DMO for gas was expected to take effect by the end of this year, pointing out that gas was the most efficient option for electricity production in outermost, frontline and disadvantaged regions, most of which are not connected to PLN’s main power networks. Andy said the impact of the policy on the upstream gas sector would not be overly significant since many gas companies had operated for three decades and had by now reached break-even point, suggesting that the ideal gas price for power plants should be about 30% less than current prices.

Conservation & Protected Area

Singapore-Indonesia Expedition unearths deep-sea aliens not previously known to exist
− Ray Yeh, Channel News Asia 13 May 2018
Prof Peter Ng, head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the University of Singapore, led a 14-day South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition (SJADES 2018) with Professor Dwi Listyo Rahayu, a world authority on hermit crabs from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). The research vessel with 31 scientists and support staff sailed from Jakarta towards Cilacap in southern Java and back, covering a total distance of 2,200km. Using trawls, dredges, box corers and multicorers, the NUS-LIPI team collected marine animal samples at depths averaging 800 meters, with the deepest at 2,100 meters. Over a dozen new species of hermit crabs, prawns, lobsters and crabs were found, and more than 40 species were new records for Indonesia.

Wildfires may cause long-term health problems for endangered orangutans
− Rutgers University, Phys 15 May 2018
Orangutans are already critically endangered due to habitat loss from logging and large-scale agriculture. Now they may face another threat in the form of smoke from natural and human-caused fires, a Rutgers University-New Brunswick study discovered. In 2015, Wendy Erb, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers, was studying male orangutans in the forests of Indonesian Borneo when fires started.  Erb studied four "flanged" males, who weigh about 200 pounds and have large cheek pads. Analyzing their behavior and urine, the scientists discovered the big males traveled less, rested more and consumed more calories. They also produced more ketone bodies, molecules made by the liver from fatty acids during periods of low food intake, which was unexpected because the apes were eating more, not less. It's possible these males are burning fat because their energy is going to repairing tissue."

Indonesia to propose three national parks as new biosphere reserves
− The Jakarta Post 15 May 2018
Indonesia will propose three national parks be declared as new biosphere reserves at the 30th Man and the Biosphere Program International Coordinating Council (MAB-ICC) meeting, scheduled to be held  July 23-28 in Palembang, South Sumatra. “We will nominate Berbak Sembilang in South Sumatra, Jambi, Betung Kerihun Danau Sentarum in West Kalimantan, and Rinjani in West Nusa Tenggara," said Enny Sudarmonowati, deputy of biological sciences at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and head of the MAB-UNESCO’s national committee. MAB-ICC is UNESCO’s annual agenda to discuss the development of biosphere reserves to restore ecosystems.  There are currently 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries, including 11 in Indonesia, Enny said.


Indonesia suffers worst terrorist attack in a decade
− Joseph Hincks, Time 14 May 2018
Indonesia was rocked by a wave of deadly suicide bombings over 13-14 May, including three near-simultaneous church blasts in Surabaya which killed 13 people and left scores injured in the country’s worst terrorist attack in a decade.  Earlier, counterterrorism agents in West Java had shot dead four suspected terrorists and recovered handguns and explosives from the scene. That evening, a family of three—a mother, father, and one of their three children—died in an explosion at an apartment block in Sidoarjo, just kilometers from the Surabaya churches. On Monday morning, another bombing at Surabaya’s police headquarters killed at least four people and injured ten others. That attack was perpetrated by a family of five, including an eight-year-old child, according to an Indonesian police official.

Prosecutors seek death for pro-Islamic State group cleric
− Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, The Jakarta Post 19 May 2018.
Prosecutors have asked a panel of judges to sentence an Islamic cleric linked to the Islamic State (IS) to death for allegedly inspiring a series of terror attacks in the country through his radical teachings while imprisoned as a terror convict.  Aman Abdurrahman is accused of inspiring at least five terror attacks in 2016 and 2017, including a bombing and shooting on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta. In the hearing, the prosecutors said Aman deserved the death penalty because he was a terrorist recidivist and had encouraged Islamist militants under the local Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD) group to carry out attacks. The JAD has been blamed for a series of recent terror attacks, including the deadly riot at the Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java, and a series of bombings that killed at least 13 people in Surabaya and Sidoarjo, East Java.




Post Archives

2024 (14)
2023 (25)
2022 (26)
2021 (24)
2020 (24)
2019 (24)
2018 (23)
2017 (24)