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
13th Edition :  26 July 2018

Marine & Fisheries

India’s move at Indonesia's strategic Sabang Port
— Ankit Panda, The Diplomat 17 July 2018
One month after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to Indonesia, an Indian naval vessel made an official call to the Indonesian port of Sabang in the Aceh Special Region of Sumatra. The visit symbolized India’s intent to bolster its naval presence in Southeast Asia under the Modi government’s “Act East” policy. One outcome of Modi’s meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo was a decision to set up a joint task force to develop Sabang as a strategic port, at a time of growing anxiety in both Jakarta and New Delhi about China’s own developing network of port facilities in and around the Indian Ocean region. India has long been sensitive to Beijing’s growing network of strategic ports. While many of these facilities remain civilian in nature, Indian observers fear that China may be able to easily convert them for military logistics use.

Indonesia, Timor Leste work on sustainable management of marine resources
— Antara 20 July 2018
Indonesia and Timor Leste have launched a new project aimed at ensuring the conservation and sustainable management of marine and fisheries resources in the Indonesian Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (ISLME). The project, called "Enabling Transboundary Cooperation for Sustainable Management of the Indonesian Seas," was launched in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). During the meeting, Indonesia and Timor Leste agreed to ensure the continued productivity of the ecosystem, improved food security and enhanced livelihood opportunities for local communities dependent on marine and fisheries resources in both countries. The ISLME covers approximately 2.13 million square km, 98% of which is located within Indonesia`s territorial waters, with the remaining 2% within the territorial waters of Timor Leste. The FAO said Global Environment Facility (GEF) is contributing US$4 million to support the project for four years.

Taiwan pushed to confront work abuse in high seas fishing fleet
— Nick Aspinwall, Oceandeeply 19 July 2018
Taiwan’s tuna fishing industry is under growing pressure from international watchdog organizations to address its mistreatment of foreign workers. Taiwan’s distant water fleets employ 19,000 foreign crew members, many from Indonesia, according to government sources, though outside groups say this number may be higher. There is evidence that the government is starting to listen to critics as it works to improve monitoring of both illegal fishing and human rights issues, but labor reforms are still in their infancy. A major problem is the industry’s reliance on third-party recruitment agencies. These brokers may charge workers exorbitant recruitment fees to be placed on vessels, putting them in debt and leaving them vulnerable to forced labor conditions. In addition, most migrant workers on vessels never set foot in Taiwan, providing little possibility for governmental oversight.

Forestry & Land Use

Revealed: Paper giant’s ex-staff say it used their names for secret company in Borneo
— Phil Jacobson, Mongabay 10 July 2018
An investigation by Mongabay has uncovered new evidence suggesting one of the world’s biggest paper producers, Indonesia’s Asia Pulp & Paper, took deliberate measures to disguise its ownership of a controversial company engaged in deforestation. The revelation comes after repeated denials by APP that it owns the company, as its opaque corporate structure has been dragged into the spotlight. Two of APP’s ex-employees interviewed by Mongabay said management had used their names on official filings for the company, PT Muara Sungai Landak. One said that he had received a monthly payment to compensate for the arrangement, and that he had been afraid to protest for fear of losing his job. APP claimed the employees had set up the company on their own, without management knowing. The findings place APP squarely in the middle of an emerging debate about the presence of “shadow companies” among the holdings of the conglomerates that dominate Indonesia’s plantation sector.

Water bombing could be improved
— Kompas 21 July 2018
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has allocated more than 10 helicopters to reinforce air patrols on forest and peatland fire areas s in South Sumatra in order to prevent the occurrence of fires ahead of the 2018 Asian Games. The helicopters will be stationed in nine regions of South Sumatra deemed prone to forest fires, including four regions near Palembang. In addition to South Sumatra, helicopters will also be stationed in Jambi, Riau, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. BNPB chair Willem Rampangilei said aerial firefighting operations would be intensified, as the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) had predicted that this year’s dry season would peak in August and September. In West Kalimantan, peatland fires continue, and more hotspots are cropping up. On Friday, there were 210 hotspots, an increase from 124 hotspots on Thursday. On Friday, fire raged in Southeast Pontianak district on the outskirts of the city.

One Map Policy portal site set to launch in August
— The Jakarta Post 17 July 2018
The government is scheduled to launch a portal to support its One Map Policy platform in August. 
Dodi Slamet Riyadi, Undersecretary for Spatial Planning and Strategic Economic Zone Affairs of the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, said compiling and integration of the policy was implemented by the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG). Synchronization work would continue after the portal was launched, Dodi said. “The outcome of the synchronization is in the form of recommendations that would be conveyed to the President,” Dodi said, adding that the President would decide on overlapped land use based on the results of the synchronization. The> > portal will be open to the public, but access to certain maps will be restricted, including those that showcase local resources and private ownership, while the accessible categories will be decided through a presidential decree before the portal is launched.

Report: Palm oil from Indonesia's shrinking forests taints global brands
— Fergus Jensen and Bernadette Christina Munthe, Reuters 19 July 2018
Palm oil sourced from illegally cleared rainforest areas in Indonesia has flowed through traders to penetrate major consumer goods brands’ products despite their commitments to cease purchases of non-sustainable oil, a new report says. Palm oil companies Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), Wilmar, Musim Mas Group and Golden Agri Resources sold oil from twenty-one “tainted” mills to more than a dozen global brands, including Nestle and Unilever, according to the report by Eyes on the Forest (EoF), a coalition of environmental NGOs that includes WWF-Indonesia. In spot checks since 2011, EoF used GPS tracking to follow trucks carrying palm oil fruit to mills from plantations within the Tesso Nilo National Park and Bukit Tigapuluh protected forest areas in central Sumatra. Similar issues were highlighted in earlier EoF reports including in 2016, but a lack of strict supervision by traders has led to more forest clearing and illegally grown palm oil entering global supply chain, the report said.

RSPO walks back suspension of Nestlé
— Mongabay 18 July 2018
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) announced it would reinstate the membership of Nestlé after the company pledged to exclusively use palm oil which was certified as sustainably produced by 2023.  “Nestlé has pledged to step up their efforts in working actively on solutions within the RSPO system, via active participation,” RSPO chief Darrel Webber said in a statement. “We trust that by working collectively we are able to realize a sustainable, respectful and responsible palm oil industry,” he added. The Switzerland-based company had been suspended for failing to pay dues and submit progress reports.

Indonesia, India begin cooperation on sustainable palm oil
— Anton Hermansyah, The Jakarta Post 17 July 2018
Indonesia has signed an agreement with India to promote the use of sustainable palm oil in a bid to counter the negative campaigning against the commodity. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on sustainable palm oil production involving the Indonesian Palm Oil Board (DMSI), Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) of India and international solution-oriented society Solidaridad Network Asia was signed on Monday. The MoU recognizes both countries’ sustainable palm oil frameworks — the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and the Indian Palm Oil Sustainability Framework (IPOS). The expected outcome is the joint promotion of ISPO and IPOS, raising awareness among all stakeholders, especially retail customers. Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said the MoU was intended to boost palm oil promotion in the two countries and was a follow up to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Indonesia.

World Bank to fund Accelerate Agrarian Reform project in Indonesia
— Devdiscourse, 23 July 2018
The Program to Accelerate Agrarian Reform (One Map Project) in Indonesia will receive financing from the World Bank with the approval of a US$ 240 million grant. The overall objective of the program is to establish clarity about the ownership of land rights and land use at the village level in the target areas. Participatory mapping and agrarian reform are key project components. This work is intended to generate village-level parcel boundary maps in the project target areas, record all land right claims, and facilitate land rights regularization and registration in the Electronic Land Administration System (eLand), covering all legal rights including communal rights as well as joint and individual ownership registration for women. The work will include regular community consultations and engagement during implementation.

Energy, Climate Change & Pollution

Indonesia to enforce Euro 4 emission standard in September 2018
— Wisnu Andebar, Tempo 21 July 2018
Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers (Gaikindo) chairman Yohannes Nangoi announced car manufacturers would have to comply with the Euro 4 emission standard by September 2018. Petrol-powered vehicles will be affected immediately while diesel-powered vehicles would follow suit in 2020.  All motor vehicles sold in September 2018 will be in compliance with the Euro 4 emission standard, Nangoi said.  “Cars that do not abide by the rules are barred from being sold to the public.”  Nangoi admitted he was surprised by the decision and he has asked for a delay of two more years to allow manufacturers to adjust their products to transition to the Euro 4 standard.  However, the government has only allowed one year for the transition.

RI to expand use of B20 biodiesel
— Anton Hermansyah and Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, The Jakarta Post 21 July 2018
Amidst the appreciation of the United States dollar and ongoing trade tensions between the US and China, the Indonesian government has taken a first step to reduce imports by expanding its biofuel policy to include non-subsidized diesel. It was anticipated that new regulations would make use of a 20% biodiesel mix (B20) mandatory for all subsidized diesel fuel (sold under the brand Solar) from 2016. But following a Cabinet meeting on 20 July, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung announced that President Joko Widodo decided to make B20 mandatory for nonsubsidized diesel fuel as well. Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto has said that if B20 was implemented for the 16.2 million kl of non-subsidized diesel, demand for crude palm oil (CPO) would increase by around 3.2 million tons. In the medium term, the government plans to work toward implementation of the B100 rule, or “Green Diesel”.

Government of Indonesia wants to start the B30 biodiesel program in 2019
— Indonesia Investment 17 July 2018 In 2014
the Indonesian government introduced the B10 biodiesel program, based on a blend of 10% biodiesel fuel (usually palm or other vegetable oils) with 90% petroleum-based diesel.  This was followed by the B15 program in April 2015 and the B20 program in early 2016. Rida Mulyana, Director General of Renewable Energy at Indonesia's Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, said a number of ministries have already discussed the implementation of the B30 biodiesel program and agree that the implementation can be sped up. Road tests, which may require up to six months, are expected to start in August 2018. The programs are part of the government's goals to reduce carbon emissions and reduce Indonesia's dependence on fuel imports.

Indonesia to auction 16 mining sites
— The Jakarta Post 18 July 2018
Indonesia will auction 16 mining sites as no proposal submissions have been submitted by state-owned enterprises (BUMN) and regional administration-owned enterprises (BUMD) as of the submission deadline on Tuesday.  Under Energy and Mineral Resources Ministerial Regulation No 11/2011 on the proposal submission procedures for the operation of coal and mineral resource sites, BUMNs and BUMDs are given priority to submit proposals. But after a 30-day period, private companies are given the opportunity to submit their proposals to take part in the action process. The 16 mining sites include 10 fields that require a mining operation permit (IUP) to manage and six fields that require a special mining operation permit (IUPK). The government offered the 10 IUP mining fields to regional governments and the six IUPK mining fields to state-owned enterprises.

Three candidates for Pertamina CEO submitted to President
— The Jakarta Post 16 July 2018
The State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ministry has submitted three candidates for the position of president director of the state-owned energy company Pertamina to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Since the removal of Elia Massa Manik from his position as the company’s president director in April, the company has been led by acting president director Nicke Widyawati. “It is up to the President [when the announcement will be made],” according to Fajar Harry Sampurna, the SOEs Ministry Deputy Head for Mining, Strategic Industry and Media Affairs, as reported by <> . Fajar did not reveal the names of the candidates, but a source in the ministry said they were Nicke Widyawati, Pertamina Upstream Director Samsu Alam, and Pertamina Marketing and Commerce Director Hanung Budya Yuktyanta. The source also mentioned another name -- head of Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas) Amien Sunaryadi. Amien, however, denied he had been nominated.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Scientists urge Indonesian president to nix dam in orangutan habitat
— Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay 13 July 2018
Twenty-five of the world’s top environmental scientists have lambasted plans to construct a hydroelectric dam in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, because it would threaten the rarest species of great ape on Earth. The scientists, members of the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers (ALERT), outlined their concerns in a letter hand-delivered to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Chief of Staff on July 10. The scientists also slammed the Chinese government for funding the project as a part of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, saying it has disregarded the environmental consequences of building and operating the dam. The planned hydropower plant was announced in 2012 and if completed would be the largest in Sumatra. The developer of the project, state-owned Chinese utility Sinohydro, dismissed the criticism, saying they will enforce strong environmental safeguards to protect the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan.

Seashell souvenirs are killing protected marine life
— Tina Deines, National Geographic 16 July 2018
India is by no means the only major international supplier of seashells. Shells are also exploited commercially in Indonesia and throughout the Caribbean, among other places.  Only a few species notably the queen conch, which can grow to a foot in length, the chambered nautilus, the giant clam, and a few species of snails are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the body that regulates the global wildlife trade. According to a 2016 study by TRAFFIC and the World Wildlife Fund, global trafficking in nautiluses is still rampant. The study notes that the illegal trade has shifted from shops openly displaying them to Internet sales, which are harder to monitor and control. The study also identifies the policing of the chambered nautilus trade in China, the Philippines, and Indonesia as a particular challenge.


Indonesia’s all-time low poverty rate report under criticism
— Dias Prasongko, Tempo 19 July 2018
Center for Welfare Studies executive director Ah Maftuchan recently challenged the data backing Finance Minister Sri Mulyani’s claim that Indonesia’s poverty line has fallen under 10%.  Ah Maftuchan views that the data provided by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) is one dimensional and only sees poverty from an economic standpoint, namely per capita expenditures. As previously reported, the BPS released a report saying that Indonesia’s poverty rate as of March 2018 was 9.82%, the lowest level ever recorded.  The agency’s data suggests that 633,200 citizens both from urban environments and rural areas managed to escape poverty. Maftuchan suggests that the poverty indicator should have viewed the issue dynamically. The data, Maftuchan went on, should include factors such as health, education, housing, access towards clean water and energy sources.  He claims that the use of a multi-dimensional indicator would drastically change the outcome of Indonesia’s poverty rate.

Probe urged into deadly Indonesia crackdown before Asia Games
— Victoria Gatenby, Al Jazeera News 18 July 2018
Human rights groups are calling for an independent investigation into a deadly police crackdown and extrajudicial killings which were alleged to be part of Indonesia's preparations for the start of the Asian Games next month. Last year, President Joko Widodo ordered police to shoot drug dealers who resisted arrest. Since an intensified crackdown began two weeks ago, police officers have shot dead at least 11 suspected criminals, wounded 52 others, and arrested more than 270 people. The shootings follow a directive from Jakarta Police Inspector General Idham Azis on July 3 for police personnel “to take firm actions” against suspects who pose a public threat. That same day, the Jakarta Police spokesman, Sr. Comr. Prabowo Argo Yuwono, announced that, “If there is resistance [from the muggers and thieves], our chief has ordered us to act firmly and quickly [to shoot]. It is not negotiable.”

Indonesia’s proposed foreign research law could hamper international collaboration
— Dyna Rochmyaningsih, Nature 24 May 2018
The parliament is considering a draft law to toughen penalties for foreign scientists doing research in Indonesia. If the draft is approved, foreign scientists would have to submit their raw data to the research ministry: involve Indonesian colleagues as equal partners and name all Indonesian researchers involved in a project on every peer-reviewed paper arising from the work. The draft law also imposes harsh penalties for violating regulations requiring foreign scientists to obtain a research permit and a transfer agreement to remove specimens, upgrading these to criminal offenses with possible prison sentences of up to two years and fines of as much as Rp2 billion (US$143,000). The law also requires that international scientists carry out research that produces “beneficial outputs for Indonesia”. Erik Meijaard, a conservation scientist at the University of Queensland, noted that the proposal is “unworkable”. “You could do a few years’ research, find out that the outcomes do not benefit Indonesia, and then you cannot publish.”

Indonesia's SMI raises 1.5 trillion rupiah in bonds to fund green projects
— Reuters 10 July 2018
Indonesia’s Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (SMI), a state-owned infrastructure financing firm, said on Tuesday it had issued a combined Rp1.5 trillion rupiah ($104.6 million) via green bonds and sukuk, an Islamic financial certiicaate which complies with Islamic religious law, tapping into environmentally-minded investors. SMI, which is supervised by the Ministry of Finance, raised Rp500 billion (US$34.53 million) in green bonds and Rp1 trillion (US$69.1 million) in sukuk, with each program allowing issuance of up to a maximum Rp3 trillion (US$ 109.2 million). The deal follows efforts by Indonesia to develop so-called green finance and boost use of clean energy sources in one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. The company said it had been accredited by the multilateral Green Climate Fund, which requires clear management and reporting on all climate-related financing. In February, Indonesia became the first Asian country to sell “green” bonds internationally in a $1.25 billion deal.

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