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
19th Edition :  17 October 2018

Marine & Fisheries

Indonesian islanders fight developer with snorkels and home-stays
− Rina Chandra, Reuters, 9 October 2018
People of Pulau Pari have come under threat in recent years as their customary land rights have been denied, and a developer claims ownership of much of the island off the northern coast near Jakarta. President Joko Widodo last month signed a decree on agrarian reform, with an aim to issue titles and distribute land to peasants and indigenous people. But the effort is hampered by the government's insistence on providing titles only if ownership can be considered "clean and clear", which excludes areas where land is disputed, activists say. That affects residents of Pulau Pari, who say that local officials promised a few years ago that they would receive land certificates after submitting the old papers that were informal records of the land they occupied. They handed over their documents, but never did get the certificates, said Syahrul Hidayat, a local fisher who is leading the campaign to reclaim the community’s land rights. In 2014, signs went up on the island declaring that much of the land belonged to a private firm.

Protective measure not needed for fishery sector: observer
−  Muhammad Razi Rahman, Antara, 7 October 2018
Indonesia does not need to tighten protection for its fishery commodities to follow the policy of many other countries as a result of the trade war between China and the United States, an observer said. "No specific measure is needed as transactions in our fish trade remains positive," said Moh Abdi Suhufan, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Marine Affairs Scholars (Iskindo). The country recorded a surplus in its fish trade, Abdi Suhufan said, adding imports are only for fish not produced in the country such as salmon. Earlier, Executive Director of the Maritime Study Center for Humanity Abdul Halim called on the government to adopt a protective stance by restricting fish imports to follow the policy of a number of advanced countries. He said those countries restricted imports of fishery products such as shrimp based on allegations that shrimp production led to environmental damage.

Commercial fishing banned across much of the Arctic
− Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 3 October 2018
Commercial fishing will be banned across much of the Arctic under a new agreement signed on Wednesday in Greenland, closing down access to a vast area of sea that is newly opening up under climate change. The moratorium on Arctic fishing will safeguard an area about the size of the Mediterranean for at least the next 16 years, as warming temperatures allow summer navigation across what was previously ice. Sea ice in the Arctic reached its annual minimum last week, with what polar scientists confirmed was the joint sixth-lowest extent of ice on record. No fishing takes place there currently, but large ships are starting to explore the area. The Arctic is likely to become more attractive to commercial fishing fleets in future years, as climate change is causing major fish stocks including cod and halibut to move further north as lower latitudes warm, and over-fishing in traditional grounds makes potential new areas appealing.

Forestry & Land Use

Palm oil executive found guilty of starting land, forest fires
− The Jakarta Post, 9 October 2018
The Pekanbaru High Court in Riau has declared an executive of palm oil company PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa (JJP) guilty of burning 1,000 hectares of peatland in Rokan Hilir regency, Riau. JJP plantation head Kosman Vitoni Immanuel Siboro was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay Rp3 billion (US$ 196,914) in fines. However, the company has challenged the court’s verdict by suing expert witnesses who were instrumental in providing scientific evidence throughout the trial. Among them is Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) lecturer Bambang Hero Saharjo, who said the company’s lawsuit was “not based on [prevailing] law”. “The court has to reject the lawsuit. Otherwise, expert witnesses would be less inclined to assist the government in the court,” Bambang was quoted by <>  as saying on Monday. Meanwhile, the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said on Monday that the ministry was committed to defending Bambang against the lawsuit.

Ministry to prepare witness protection regulation for environmental case witness
−  [translated] Juli Etha Ramaida Manalu, Bisnis 8 October 2018
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) is preparing Ministerial Regulation on witness protection and informant scheme in environmental case. The regulation serves as the implementing regulation of law No. 32/2009 article 66 which states that every person who fights for the right to a good and healthy environment cannot be prosecuted or sued civilly. Director General of Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Rasio Ridho Sani said that in the last 3 years, the Ministry had brought at least 519 cases, including burning forests to court. One of the cases of concern to the Ministry was a lawsuit directed against Professor of the Faculty of Forestry, Bogor Agricultural University, Bambang Hero Saharjo.

Rain ends days of thick haze in Palembang
− Yulia Savitri, The Jakarta Post 7 October 2018
Rain poured down on Palembang, South Sumatra, on Sunday afternoon, clearing the view in a city that had been blanketed by smoke from forest fires for the past few days. The haze had covered the city since last week, nearly obscuring Ampera Bridge on Friday morning as visibility narrowed to less than 2 kilometers. BMKG Palembang spokesperson Nandang Pangariwibowo said visibility in the city that day was between 1 and 2 km, with air quality categorized as unhealthy. According to the head of the South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BPBD South Sumatra) emergency mitigation division, Ansori, the number of hot spots has been increasing for the last three days as a result of drying water sources. He added that fires in the three regencies could be found across 77,000 hectares of land, with the greatest number of hot spots found in Ogan Komering Ilir.

Major brands break ties with Indonesian palm oil giant
− Zafirah Zein, Eco Business, 5 October 2018
Nestlé and PepsiCo, have ended direct and indirect sourcing of palm oil from IndoAgri, a Singapore-listed subsidiary of Indofood, due to concerns over ongoing deforestation and human rights abuses within its operations. In an updated statement on its palm oil policy in Indonesia, PepsiCo said that it has decided to suspend sourcing palm oil from IndoAgri to its joint venture with Indofood, “pending further progress and visibility” around allegations of labour violations. The company added it will be reviewing its decision on a regular basis while taking into consideration recent actions taken by the Indonesian company to address its human rights breaches and links to rainforest and peatland destruction. Nestlé has also stated on its website that it had agreed to close its joint venture with Indofood Group in September 2018 for “commercial reasons”, including it in a list of companies that have been or are in the process of being removed from Nestlé supply chains.

Farmer plantations in crisis amid land status mess
−  Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, 13 October 2018
With ageing oil palms that have stood for decades, the future of smallholder plantations is still hazy with so little achieved by replanting programs. The Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister’s, Musdhalifah Machmud, said the target of replanting 185,000 hectares of smallholders’ oil palm plantations this year. Yet the realization as of October is less than 5%. The government, through the Indonesian Oil Palm Estate Fund (BPDP-KS), has offered grants for smallholders to replant the areas under the People’s Oil Palm Replanting (PSR) program. Each farmer can access Rp25 million (US$1,645) in grants to replant oil palms on people’s plantations, a mix of abandoned industrial forests, customary forests, social forests or those belonging to villages and communities. The Association of Indonesian Oil Palm Farmers secretary for Kuantan Singingi regency, Imrialis, said what the government has done is not enough, as the basic problem for smallholders is that they do not own land.

Conflicting data: how fast is the world losing its forests?
− Fred Pearce, Yale 360, 9 October 2018
This week, a special report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed the vital role that ending deforestation can play in holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Stopping deforestation and restoring damaged forests could provide up to 30 percent of the climate solution.” But behind the challenging words lies a yawning data gap. For we still know remarkably little for sure about the true extent of deforestation and its contribution to carbon emissions and climate change. As Peter Holmgren, then director-general of the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia, put it last year, the existing deforestation data is of “low quality,” relying either on satellite imaging that is “shallow, ambiguous, and generally incomparable” or on government data that may “under-report deforestation for political reasons.” Researchers say we urgently need a way out of the statistical quagmire.

Energy, Climate Change & Pollution

Logistics, transportation hamper mandatory B20 use
− The Jakarta Post, 10 October 2018
More than one month into mandatory use of a B20 biodiesel blend, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has admitted that several issues are hampering the effort. The ministry's energy conservation and renewable energy director general, Rida Mulyana, underlined two main issues -- logistics and transportation – particularly related to the demands of state-owned oil and gas holding company, Pertamina, that ships to transport the fuel meet certain specifications. “Lately, we learned that the ships should have certain specifications. That had been overlooked. The point is that the program is not running optimally,” Rida said on Tuesday, as quoted by <> .  He said the government also found some private companies in violation of the requirements, which could lead to fines totalling Rp 270 billion (US$17.70 million).

Indonesia, Finland seek further partnership in renewable energy
− Riza Roidila Mufti, The Jakarta Post, 11 October 2018
Indonesia is seeking assistance from Finland to develop renewable energy. Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said Indonesia had recently begun turning to renewable energy, adding that it would be a long-term project that Finland could help develop. Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen said the country was eager to share their experience and explore further opportunities with Indonesia. Gulontam Situmorang, senior advisor of Business Finland for Indonesia, said a number of projects on renewable energy had been jointly undertaken by Indonesian and Finnish companies, including the development of the waste to energy Intermediate Treatment Facility (ITF) in Sunter, North Jakarta. The project is a partnership between city-run company PT Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro) and Finnish clean energy company Fortum.

Column: Indonesia wants to export more coal, buyers ignore the call
− Clyde Russell, Reuters, 11 October 2018
Indonesia’s coal exports dropped to 24.8 million tons in September, down 12.4 percent from August’s 28.3 million tons and 10 percent from 27.6 million tons in the same month last year, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv. The drop comes even as the price of lower-grade Indonesian coal is at its widest discount to higher-quality Australian thermal coal. Indonesia is planning to increase its 2018 output of coal to around 507 million tons, up from a previous target of 485 million tons. The aim is to convert the additional U.S. dollars from sales of the polluting fuel into rupiah, which has dropped about 12% so far this year against the U.S. currency. In theory, importers should be keen to ramp up purchases of Indonesian coal, as the massive discount to Australian cargoes more than compensates for the lower energy value.

Industrialists asked to stop producing disposable plastic wrappers
− Muhammad Razi Rahman, Antara, 7 October 2018
Greenpeace Indonesia has asked the country’s industrialists to stop producing disposable plastic wrappers in order to create a healthier environment. "If the business sector and the government rely only on program of recycling and call for the use of environmentally friendly plastic, it would be no more than an illusion that the country would ever come close to its target of reducing 70 percent of its plastic garbage in its sea in 2025," Urban Greenpeace Indonesia campaigner Muharram Atha Rasyadi wrote in a news release issued on Saturday. So far the government has been too lenient in its policy and Presidential Regulation No 83 of 2018 on the handling of sea garbage has not been effective in forcing producers to change their packaging products from disposable containers or wrappers, he said.

Conservation & Protected Areas

West Papua kicks off conservation campaign
− The Jakarta Post, 10 October 2018
Three years have passed since the declaration of West Papua as a Conservation Province. Since then, the province has started campaign activities in six regencies and cities. The conservation campaign is supported by Conservation International (CI) Indonesia and includes folk parties comprised of educational activities related to conservation. “This campaign aims at building mutual understanding between stakeholders about the meaning, roots and paradigm of the province of conservation. We hope that the community can lead this green development model,” CI Indonesia vice president Ketut Sarjana Putra said in a press release.

Tribes left behind amid West Papua’s green strides
− The Jakarta Post, 13 October 2018
Despite being surrounded by an abundance of natural resources such as minerals and forests, the people of West Papua are ranked second from bottom on the human development index among provinces in the country. In an attempt to tackle this long-standing problem, the West Papua administration has declared in its commitment as a province of conservation in October 2015 to raise its people’s welfare by adopting a more environmentally conscious approach.The administration reaffirmed its commitment through the declaration of Manokwari, which took place on Oct. 10 at the International Conference on Biodiversity, Ecotourism and Creative Economy (ICBE). The declaration consists of a list of commitments to support the goal, including the recognition and involvement of indigenous communities in the region. Residents, most of whom are still hunter/gatherers, demanded real implementation.


Inaugural Komodo Green Bond Raises $134m for Climate Investments in Indonesia
− Sarah Yuniarni, The Jakarta Globe, 4 October 2018
The International Finance Corporation, the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, has raised Rp2 trillion ($134 million) from its inaugural rupiah-denominated Komodo green bond to fund investment projects focused on tackling climate change. The five-year Komodo green bond, offered at a coupon rate of 8%, will be listed on the London Stock Exchange and Singapore Exchange. The bond has seen strong demand from diverse investor groups, showing a growing appetite for environmental and socially responsible investment in the country. Bank of America Merryl Lynch, J.P. Morgan and Standard Chartered Bank will act as underwriters. The proceeds from the bond will be used to fund infrastructure and climate-related projects in Indonesia, in accordance with green-bond principles. The IFC said the proceeds will be allocated for an investment worth $150 million in green bonds issued by Bank OCBC NISP, Indonesia's 10th-largest lender.

Indonesia introduces Green Sukuk at IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings
− The Jakarta Post, 9 October 2018
Indonesia has introduced Green Sukuk, an Islamic bond used for financing environmentally friendly projects, at the ongoing International Monetary Fund-World Bank Annual Meetings in Nusa Dua, Bali. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati expressed confidence that the financing scheme, which is based on Islamic teachings, would have a significant role in contributing to sustainable development. Sri Mulyani, who was speaking at the seminar with World Bank vice president and treasurer Arunma Oteh, also discussed cooperation between governments and private companies to boost economic growth without sacrificing the environment. She revealed that, in March, the Indonesian government issued Green Sukuk as an instrument to collect US$1.25 billion in funds to finance environmentally friendly projects. Meanwhile, Oteh said she supported Sri Mulyani’s statement and stressed the Green Sukuk financing scheme was promising for green projects.




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