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
21th Edition :   14 November 2018

Marine & Fisheries 

Our Ocean Conference ends with new confidence
— Ina Parlina and Gemma Holliani Cahya, The Jakarta Post, 31 October 2018
The 2018 OOC was capped off with hundreds of new commitments to ensure healthy oceans, as well as the expression of a determination to achieve the ocean-related aims of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDG) 14. In total, 287 targets were set, worth more than US$10 billion, mainly focused on marine protected areas (MPA) as well as addressing marine pollution. Susi Pudjiastuti, the Indonesian Minister of Marine and Fishery described the new commitments as “tangible”, including the target to create 14 million square kilometers of new MPAs. More stakeholders, from civil society organizations to philanthropists and private sector actors, had joined the sustainable oceans campaign by also making commitments with the participating countries. Indonesia made 23 new commitments. This year, Indonesia implemented a mechanism to monitor and track existing commitments and Susi pushed for a joint effort to create a tracking mechanism for the 663 commitments OOC participants had made during past conferences.

Namibia, Indonesia sign three-year agreement for tackling IUU
— Lahja Nashuuta, Southern Times, 8 November 2018
The fisheries authorities of Namibia and Indonesia have signed a three-year plan of action to share information and cooperate in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). The agreement, which will run from 2019 to 2021, will also promote sustainable aquaculture in the two countries. The move comes as thousands of tons of fish are reportedly stolen from Namibian fisheries every year by licensed foreign-flagged vessels, some of which pursue catch as far as 110 kilometers into Namibian waters. Namibian fisheries minister Bernard Esau said the Namibian government is considering sharing vessel lists and monitoring data with the public in order to tackle the problem. Esau said that Namibia was planning to open discussions with the Global Fishing Watch about joining their transparency platform, following the example set by Indonesia. The country may also join the vessel monitoring system open data network.

Indonesia closes in on landmark first MSC certified fishery
− Intrafish Media, 2 November 2018
The pole-and-line skipjack and yellowfin tuna fishery supplying PT Citraraja Ampat Canning in Sorong Indonesia is close to becoming the first Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fishery in the country. The International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF) welcomed the news that the fishery could be certified by year end, which would provide a platform for the certification of other fisheries in the region. “The certification will be a considerable boost for Indonesian one-by-one tuna supply chains and the country’s entire fisheries sector,” said the IPNLF.

Secure Strait of Malacca key to prosperity
— Tadeo Nahumury, The Jakarta Post, 1 November 2018
Cooperation among littoral states along the Strait of Malacca is important to keeping the important sea lane safe and secure to support the world’s economy. Eric Frecon, from Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, said the region had several bilateral and multilateral programs to secure the Strait of Malacca, including the Singapore-Indonesia and Malaysia-Singapore-Indonesia coordinated patrols, the Eyes in the Sky scheme, and the Tripartite Technical Expert Group. However, Frecon also pointed out obstacles and impediments, such as the lack of a clear definitions of military activity in the exclusive economic zone, rights to visit, and hot pursuit as put forward in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  He commended Indonesia for its efforts to secure the Strait of Malacca, including establishing the Western Fleet Quick Reaction Team to respond to security problems and military modernization through the Minimum Essential Force strategic plan.

Indonesia commits to new plan for blue swimming crab fishery at Our Ocean Conference
— Seafood Source, 30 October 2018
Officials from Lampung province have committed to implementing a transformational management plan for the region’s blue swimming crab fishery, according to an announcement made at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia on 29 October. Lampung’s local leaders hope enacting new supply-chain measures in the management plan will demonstrate more support for sustainable practices and ultimately improve the quality if the fishery’s products. “This is a crucial opportunity for Lampung to develop a new model and demonstrate approaches for small-scale fisheries in Indonesia,” said Taufik Hidayat, Head of the Lampung Province Development Planning Agency. In less than two years, the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DKP), the regional processors association, and academic experts working in tandem with the provincial government have created a new process for collaborative management planning and implementation, including the formal establishment of a multi-stakeholder body to design and implement a science-based management plan. 

Forestry & Land Use

In funding palm oil giants, banks share in the ‘sins of the companies’
— Tessa Toumbourou, Mongabay, 7 November 2018
The three-year moratorium on new licenses for oil palm plantations announced by President Joko Widodo in September is “marred by inconsistencies and loopholes”, Greenpeace campaigner Arie Rompas says, because it exempts large tracts of forest controlled by district governments zoned as “other use areas” or APL outside the “forest zone”.  As of this year, there are 70,000 km2 of natural forest classified as APL where oil palm plantations can continue to expand.  It costs about US$50 million to convert 100 km2 of land (including forest or peat lands) into an oil plantation, making plantation companies dependent on credit. From 2010 to 2016, international banks provided Indonesian palm oil companies with more than US$15 billion in loans, fueling most of the expansion in oil palm acreage over that period.  The banks’ central role as palm oil financiers is an opportunity for the banking sector to help turn around environmentally-destructive practices and drive sustainability standards across the supply chain.

South Sumatra plans restoration of hundreds of hectares of peat land
— Tempo, 6 November 2018
Peat land restoration covering 594,231 hectares in South Sumatra is planned to preserve the environment, with the land restoration process to be completed in 2020, according to Najib Asmani, Head of the Regional Peat Land Restoration Team. The peat lands included in the restoration program are located in seven districts with extensive peat forests, noting that districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, and Banyuasin are vulnerable to forest fires which would also ravage peat land. This is why long-term preventive measures of restoration and rewetting the peat lands are necessary, Najib said.

Indonesia needs to boost exports of rattan products
— Andi Abdussalam, Antaranews, 8 November 2018
Indonesia is the largest producer of rattan in the world. But industries still use only about six or seven of the 40 types of locally available rattan. The government halted raw rattan exports in 2011 in order to support local value-added processing, particularly in the furniture industry.  However, farmers and collectors have argued that industries are not able to absorb their produce, and currently use only 5-10% of potential sustainable rattan production, according to Julius Hoesan, of the Indonesian Rattan Entrepreneurs Association. Indonesia’s furniture industry exports have stagnated recently, falling from US$1.71 billion in 2015, to $1.63 billion in 2017.  In order to boost demand, the government began to allow the export of semi-finished rattan products in 2017 and Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto called on rattan industries to boost exports. "[I]f entrepreneurs could not boost the exports of their rattan products, we will allow the exportation of raw rattan again," Hartarto stated.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics implicated in sourcing tainted wood: activists claim
— Jacob Wolinsky, Value Walk, 12 November 2018
In depth investigations into the Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo Group have documented widespread illegality, environmental destruction and community rights violations across the company’s operations. Korindo’s expansion into Indonesia’s frontier forests has involved primary forest clearance, burning, police harassment, and arbitrary arrest of local people. Korindo is supplying unsustainable and likely illegal timber for the construction of Tokyo 2020 Olympics venues. “The Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers promised to deliver a sustainable Olympics,” Hana Heineken from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) said.  “Instead, it has used over 110,000 sheets of tropical plywood from Indonesia that is linked to rainforest destruction, land-grabbing and clearance of endangered orangutan habitat, much of it to make way for oil palm plantations.” The findings in these reports demand urgent and robust action, including investigations by the relevant Indonesian and Japanese authorities. In its response, Korindo has insisted that it operates in full accordance with all laws and regulations and that it is a leader in sustainability.

Flooding in Jambi Province is caused by deforestation
— Jon AFrizal, The Jakarta Post, 8 November 2018
Excessive damage to forests from destructive activities like illegal logging and mining, as well as land conversion, is causing routine flooding in the Sumatran province of Jambi, warns the environmental group Warsi Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI Warsi). The latest flooding caused by deforestation occurred in Bungo regency, where 770 houses housing 914 families were inundated, forcing 20 families to leave their homes, according to the Bungo Disaster Mitigation Agency. KKI Warsi spokesperson Sukmareni Rizal said Jambi province has only about 930,000 hectares (ha) of forest left, only 18 percent of the original total. Illegal gold mining, moreover, has made things worse, damaging a total of 27,822 ha of forest in the regencies of Sarolangun, Merangin and Bungo.

Taking stock of Indonesia’s social forestry program
— Nabiha Shihab, CIFOR ForestNews, 29 October 2018
In 2014, Indonesia had an ambitious goal of giving forest-dependent communities access to 12.7 million hectares of forests through social forestry permits. The project was slated for completion in 2019, but matters have progressed slower than planned. As of July 20, 2018, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) has only distributed permits for only 1.75 million hectares with participation from approximately 395,000 households – approximately 15% of the overall target – according to Bambang Supriyanto, director general of Social Forestry and Environmental Partnerships (PSKL). In addition to lagging permit distribution, households that have received permits are not yet reaping the expected benefits, reporting little in economic gains and some have sold their land in turn to developers. Among other hurdles, the populations served are non-bankable and permit process requirements are complex. MoEF has developed programs to assist social forestry enterprises, however, the support system itself has faced internal challenges, with roughly 15% of required staff in place.

The end of funding dims hopes for a Sumatran forest targeted by palm oil growers
— Elviza Diana and Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 9 November 2018
The Harapan lowland rainforest in Sumatra could be lost to oil palm plantations within the next five years, activists said. Since 2011, the Danish government has been the main funder providing technical assistance and financial assistance to keep the Harapan rainforest alive to the tune of US$12.7 million. Much of that has been spent on patrolling the forest to prevent illegal encroachment by oil palm farmers. But the Danish government will cease to support the project at the end of this year, and no other funding source is in sight to fill the gap. Rasmus Abildgaard Kristensen, the Danish ambassador to Indonesia, said the decision to end the funding has nothing to do with the project itself.  Relying on donor funding is unsustainable over the long term, Kristensen said, calling on local authorities to take on more of the responsibility of protecting the forest and urging greater emphasis on developing ecotourism and trade in non-timber forest products.

New peatland protection center in Indonesia is a “triple win” for humanity
— Hannah Maddison Harris, Forest News, 2 November 2018
Representatives of Indonesia, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) joined with international organizations to push forward a sustainable peatland agenda at a launch event for the new International Tropical Peatland Center (ITPC) in Jakarta, marking the first time countries from the global south have banded together in such a way to protect these pivotal yet under-appreciated ecosystems. Throughout the discussions, several speakers from government, international organizations and research institutions – including the ITPC’s coordinating partners (Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – discussed the importance of international collaboration and mutual learning, particularly among countries in the global South. Speakers also raised collaboration and capacity strengthening at all levels, as well as community engagement and alternative livelihoods among people currently living on peatland.

Energy, Climate Change & Pollution

New Sulawesi wind farm near completion
— The Jakarta Post, 8 November 2018
Following President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s inauguration of the 100-hectare Sidrap Wind Farm in Sindereng Rappang regency, South Sulawesi, a second wind farm in the province’s Jeneponto regency is 97% complete. The Commercial Operation Date (COD) of the Jenoponto wind farm is set for the end of this year, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said. Similar to the Sidrap Wind Farm, which produces 75 megawatts (MW) of electricity and commenced operation on July 2, the Jenoponto wind farm has been designed with an installed capacity of 72 MW. Seventeen of the 20 wind turbine generators have been installed at the Jeneponto wind farm in the three districts of Turatea, Binamu and Batang, which occupies 60 ha and has an investment value of US$160 million.

Fuel Middlemen may hinder fuel price policy
— Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post, 1 November 2018
Indonesia’s state-owned oil and gas corporation Pertamina is worried that the presence of middlemen in some regions could disrupt the government’s single fuel price policy, because they are selling fuel to the public at prices higher than the official price for designated fuel distributors. Pertamina said it could ensure the single fuel price only at official fuel distributors, adding that the presence of middlemen was beyond its authority. Zibali Hisbul Masih, Pertamina’s project coordinator for the policy, said the company would need the help of local administrations to deal with the issue. As of 30 October, fuel distribution facilities have been set up in three quarters of the remaining regions of the country that still see higher fuel prices. Regional Autonomy Watch (KPPOD) executive director Robert Endi Jaweng believed the lack of support from regional administrations to address the middlemen problem could be due to the lack of government regulations specifically stipulating the local administration’s authority on the issue.

Indonesia government struggling to encourage use of cleaner fuel
— The Jakarta Post, 1 November 2018
Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) has acknowledged that the government is finding it difficult to encourage people to use fuel meeting the Euro 4 emission standard to reduce air pollution because it is considered costly. The clean fuel is imported as the older domestic refineries belonging to state energy holding Pertamina are incapable of producing fuel to the Euro 4 standard. To encourage use of cleaner fuel, the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry previously issued regulation No. 20/2017 on the standard for fuel emissions with reduced levels of toxic chemicals sulfur, carbon monoxide, lead, and nitrous oxides. Toyota Asia Pacific government affairs general manager Adrian Chan said that while his company supported the Euro 4 standard, it would be “disastrous” for automakers and the environment if the government could not guarantee an adequate supply of Euro 4 fuel while car manufacturers rolled out Euro 4 standard vehicles.

CPOPC accepts Colombia as new member
— The Edgemarket, 9 November 2018
The Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) has accepted Colombia, Latin America's largest palm oil producer and the world’s fourth ranking producer as its new member. Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said Colombia's reputation would help strengthen the council and provide a strategic partnership in promoting the interests of palm oil producing countries in strengthening Malaysia and Indonesia's efforts to counter the European Union’s negative campaign against palm oil," she told a press conference.  Kok said Malaysia and Indonesia had expressed grave concerns over the significant anti-palm oil campaign triggered through various non-governmental organizations and even supported by legislative processes in some importing countries that discriminated against palm oil. She said the meeting also highlighted the need to consolidate and increase mandatory biodiesel programs in member countries as well as to encourage the use of palm biodiesel in other consumer countries.

Beyond palm oil:  tropical trees for bioenergy and restoration of degraded lands
— Monica Evans, CIFOR ForestNews, 24 October 2018
Bioenergy offers a compelling alternative to fossil fuels, but most biofuel in the tropics is made from oil palm, which has high yields, but is implicated in the clearing forests, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and the draining of peatland soils which releases vast amounts of CO2. The Indonesian government is looking for more renewable energy options. While focusing on the potential bioenergy of various species, soil degradation and landscape restoration are much broader issues, according to CIFOR researchers Nils Borchard and Himlal Baral. “We need to rehabilitate these soils, so they can produce benefits in terms of yield and ecosystem services, and better serve the livelihoods of local people.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Protection flip-flop leaves rare Indonesian shrikethrush in harm’s way
— Petrus Riski et al., Mongabay, 7 November 2018
The Sangihe shrikethrush is an elusive songbird found only on a single remote island in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province. While little is known about the species, it is clear that the wild population is small and declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has estimated the current population at fewer than 255 birds. Since 2000, the Sangihe shrikethrush has been classified as Critically Endangered, just one step away from being extinct in the wild. The species was one of hundreds granted protected status by the Indonesian government earlier this year. But subsequently, the government inexplicably struck it from the list, leaving wildlife activists concerned that the lack of protection will harm efforts to conserve the species. Activists say one workaround would be to push for protective measures by local authorities.

Researchers say orangutans are declining, despite Indonesian government’s claims
— Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 7 November 2018
Researchers say a recent Indonesian government report inaccurately claims that the orangutan population in the country is increasing, which could have significant implications for future conservation plans. The report, issued by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry with support from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, states that the populations of 19 priority species, including orangutans, “increased by more than 10 percent” between 2015 and 2017. However, in a letter published in the journal Current Biology, researchers say that that assertion “is in strong contrast” to many recently published and peer-reviewed scientific studies on the status of the three orangutan species: Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), and Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis), all of which are listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

WWF: Indonesia must do more to save endangered species
— Kharishar Kahfi, The Jakarta Post, 1 November 2018
Indonesia is among the countries that will need to take more concrete actions to save several animal species from going extinct as a result of unprecedented human encroachment on nature, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned in its most recent report. The environmental group’s Living Planet Report 2018 said that around 60% of all vertebrate species have been wiped out by human activity. In terms of biomass, wild animals today account for only 4% of living mammals on Earth. According to report, the decline in species is being caused by the Great Acceleration phenomenon, referring to “exploding human population and economic growth driving unprecedented planetary change through the increased demand for energy, land and water”. The phenomenon eventually results in the overexploitation of resources and the unending expansion of agricultural lands to meet spiraling consumption demand.

In West Papua’s Arfak Mountains, local leaders plot ecotourism boom
— Christopel Paino, Mongabay, 9 November 2018
In 2015, West Papua declared itself the world’s first “conservation province,” with a mandate to prioritize conservation in economic development. But only 36% of West Papua is currently protected. The governors of West Papua and Papua have declared their intent to set aside 70% of the two provinces as protected area. These commitments, enshrined in the Manokwari Declaration, includes a review of the region’s spatial mapping to record claims of indigenous communities to the forest lands they inhabit and a review of all current land concessions for palm oil and other agribusiness, logging and mining. The goal is for the two provinces to become the next Costa Rica — an ecotourism success story that generates almost $3 billion in annual revenues. But some companies are plowing ahead with their own agenda. Since 2008, more than 1,700 km2 of intact forest have been cleared for plantations in West Papua.


Bogor to ban the use of plastic shopping bags
— Tempo, 31 October 2018
West Java`s Bogor city administration has decided to ban the use of plastic bags by shopping centers as from December 1. "We start from 1 December after socialization in two or three months," Bogor city Mayor Bima Arya said on the sidelines of Our Ocean Conference (OOC) 2018. The first reaction from the people have been questions about sanctions and alternatives to plastic bags, according to Arya, who said the problem is that the available plastic replacements are too expensive. Plastic bags are already being banned in other cities like Banjarmasin and Balikpapan. Denpasar will ban the use of plastic bags in January 2019. Novrizal Tahar, Waste Management Director at the Directorate General of Waste Management and Dangerous Toxic Substance of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the Central Government supports the initiatives of regional administrations to control plastic garbage.




Post Archives

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