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
2018-23: 12 December 2018

Marine & Fisheries

KKP Cooperates with TNC on management of demersal fisheries data
— Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fishery Release [translated], 3 December 2018
A landing-based electronic data collection system for capture fisheries (e-BRPL) was pre-launched at the Workshop on Analysis of Snapper and Grouper Fisheries in Indonesia’s fisheries management region in Bogor. The e-BRPL system is an effort by the government to realize standardized and traceable data collection, improving the accuracy, quality and quantity of data, explained Toni Ruchimat, Head of the Fisheries Research Center (Pusriskan) of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. “Other organizations carrying out data collection on capture fisheries include NGOs such as the Nature Conservancy (TNC), which has implemented a snapper data collection program for four years. “This data can be integrated into the e-BRPL system,” Toni explained. TNC Indonesia expressed its support by transferring data on deep sea snapper catch collected since year-end 2015. “The data is expected to be used for making decisions on the management of snapper and grouper fisheries in all Indonesian territorial waters, said TNC Indonesia Fisheries Program Director Peter Mous.

Shrimp has become a mainstay export commodity for Indonesia
— Muhammad Razi Rahman et al, Antara, 4 December 2018
Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti urged stakeholders to increase exports of shrimp, a mainstay commodity.  Shrimp exports provide the opportunity to "[advance] the economy of both marine and aquaculture fisheries … as this commodity [occupies a leading] share in the structure of national fishery product exports," the minister noted in a press statement. Slamet Soebjakto, Director General of Aquaculture at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said shrimp is a prime fisheries commodity, along with white snapper, grouper, and seaweed, noting that sustainable practices were employed in shrimp aquaculture fisheries along with biosecurity systems to protect from disease. The government urged stakeholders to overcome domestic obstacles that hamper the improvement of competitiveness and enhancement of seafood export volume.

New concerns about Indonesia’s live reef fish trade
— Tempo, 10 December 2018
Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti expressed concern about the live reef fish (LRF) trade as these seafood products have become very popular in international markets. "LRF products are very vulnerable because these species are easily overexploited," she said in a press statement. Live reef fish have long been in high demand in various countries, especially Hong Kong and China. However, the high interest and prices for LRF products have created an alarming trend of trade, Minister Susi pointed out while chairing a session at the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) General Meeting in Monaco on December 6, 2018. In the presence of members of the Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations (SCRFA) and the Nature Conservancy, the Minister affirmed the need to better regulate and manage the sustainable consumption of live reef fish.

OPINION: Missing the big picture amid the oceans
— Ketut Putra, Jakarta Post, 10 December 2018
There is a growing understanding of the interconnectedness of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and growing awareness on the part of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) and the Office of the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs that these two institutions cannot carry the fate of Indonesia’s oceans on their shoulders alone. Luhut Pandjaitan, the Coordinating Minister, has announced that Indonesia will send up to US$1 billion per year to reach its target of reducing the amount of plastic and other waste products in our waters by 70% by 2025, a daunting and ambitious agenda. To combat the declining level of marine biodiversity and losses of critical marine ecosystems such as mangroves, leading environmental conservation organizations came together in 2015 to create the Indonesia Conservation Communication Forum (FKKI). This platform will leverage local and international organizations’ combined strengths to deliver conservation impacts at scale in Indonesia. {The writer is Vice President of Conservation International Indonesia}

Bappenas studies plan to offer “Blue Bonds” to support sustainable marine development
—  Citor Atmoko, Antara, 4 December 2018
The National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) is studying the government`s plan to offer marine-oriented debentures[KV3] , called “Blue Bonds” to investors next year. "[Blue Bonds] are related to marine or fisheries conservation efforts,” Bambang Brodjonegoro, the head of Bappenas said at a national workshop on sustainable marine development. “We will try to formulate the blue bonds [plan] next year, and hopefully the bonds could be issued in 2020 at the latest," he stated in his keynote address to the workshop on sustainable marine development. The potential funding that the industry could obtain from Blue Bonds is huge. Global investors are increasingly aware of environmental conservation and sustainable development goals (SDGs) and they tend to allocate a certain percentage of their companies` operating funds to buy bonds, using the gains from the bonds to fund environmental conservation, Bambang said. The agency will formulate roadmaps for responsible fisheries, ocean researchers, and for a funding scheme to support attaining the SGDs.

Forestry & Land Use

President Joko Widodo launches “One Map” unified geospatial data system for Indonesia
— Riza Roidila Mufti, The Jakarta Post, 12 December 2018
Indonesia launched its long-awaited “One Map” system on 11 December. The 1:50,000 scale map was developed through reconciliation of 83 different thematic maps in use by different ministries, institutions and provincial administrations, and larger-scale 1:5,000 or 1:1000 maps are planned. The cover Indonesia’s forest estate, conservation areas, forest use permits, and forest areas that can be legally converted to palm oil or pulp plantations; mining permit areas, and other uses.  An indicative map has been developed showing overlapping uses of land. For example, it shows that 19.3% of the 10.4 million ha of land in Kalimantan is in use by multiple sectors.  President Widodo explained that overlapping land use claims had been the reason the ”One Map” had been delayed.  At present, the new maps can only be accessed by the president and government agencies.  Dewi Kartika, Secretary-General of the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA) called on the government to involve local and indigenous communities in the process of resolving conflicting claims among communities, plantations.

Ministry considering sanctions on Ecosystem Restoration Concession in Sumatra
—, 10 December 2018
PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (PT AB30) was granted an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC) utilization license for two blocks of forest totaling 38,655 ha in Tebo Regency, Jambi Province in 2015. The concession includes habitat for the critically-endangered Sumatran tiger and elephants, and is intended to serve as a buffer zone for the adjacent Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.  Following performance evaluations, Minister of the Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya has sent a letter to PT AB30 stating that she is considering sanctioning the company for failure to comply with its legal obligations, including failure to complete its 2017 and 2018 work plans and meet annual targets. The ERC was established in 2015 with support from WWF-Indonesia, the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), and The Orangutan Project (TOP) to protect remaining forest, restore deforested areas, and develop alternative for indigenous communities.  However, the project appears to have been plagued by social conflicts since its inception. 

A carbon bomb in Papua: Seven takeaways from an investigation of the Tanah Merah Project
— The Gecko Project and Mongabay, 4 December 2018
If developed, the Tanah Merah project would result in the massive conversion of untouched Papuan rainforest to oil palm plantation. Here are seven takeaways from the investigation:

  1. Spanning 2,800 km2 (280,000 ha) at the heart of the Asia’s largest remaining tract of virgin forest, the project poses an immense threat to Indonesia’s forests;
  2. The ownership of the project is shrouded in secrecy, with the names and addresses of beneficial shareholders obscured through fake and proxy shareholders and phony addresses;
  3.  Permits for the project were issued from a prison cell;
  4. Key permits have been hidden from public scrutiny;
  5. The project involves two of the world’s most notorious tropical logging firms: Shin Yang and Rimbunan Hijau;
  6. The project would uproot the indigenous Auyu people whose rights have been roundly ignored;
  7. The project is a test case for whether Indonesia will be able to take action to halt deforestation.

Boycott is not a solution to sustainable palm oil
— Yashinta Difa Pramudyani, Antara, 30 November 2018
A boycott is not a solution to the issue of sustainable palm oil industry, Secretary of State to the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said. “The proper solution is to develop sustainable (plantation) management technique and conduct certification." Lemoyne said that the French government supported the Indonesian government`s policy to rearrange the management of palm oil industry by imposing a moratorium on licensing [new] oil palm plantations and making Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification mandatory. The policy should be encouraged because only 2.349 million out of 14 million hectares of oil palm plantations have been certified since ISPO was purportedly made mandatory in 2011. The Minister also supported the Indonesian’s policy on the mandatory use of 20% blended biodiesel (B20).

Expansion of oil palm plantations into forests in Indonesia appears to be changing local diets
— Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forest News, 16 October 2018
The subsistence livelihoods of more than 150 million rural residents in Indonesia are at risk from oil palm expansion, according to scientists studying the impacts of palm oil on nutritional status and diets. Forests and agroforestry systems combining trees and crops play important roles in food security and nutrition, says CIFOR scientist Amy Ickowitz, observing that communities in Kalimantan eating forest foods, including fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, are getting all the nutritional components of healthy diets. “[But] when land is converted to oil palm plantations, with no forests, people lose access to wild food from the forests. Instead, they start to purchase more food, including packaged foods. Improving food security and nutrition is not as simple as just raising incomes in rural communities,” Ickowitz said. Oil palm companies, governments, and researchers need to work together to make sure landscape change does not harm health and nutrition while improving incomes.

Development threatens tropical forests
—  Clark University, Science News, 3 December 2018
Tropical forests in the Amazon, Indonesia, and Mesoamerica face multiple threats from mining, oil, gas extraction, and massive infrastructure projects over the next two decades, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). While infrastructure expansion has been broadly investigated as a driver of deforestation, the impacts of extractive industry and its interactions with infrastructure investment on forest cover are less well understood. “There is even less analysis of the types of social and political relationships that have been created by these large-scale investments and which become self-perpetuating through lobbying and the re-entrenchment of power relations," the authors explain, stressing the urgency of this research in light of the monumental infusion of government support for development across the world. In 2014, for example, the Group of 20 countries committed to invest up to an additional $90 trillion in global infrastructure by 2030, and in 2016 committed to link infrastructure master plans across world regions.

Transforming REDD+: lessons and new directions
— Angelsen, A., et al, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), 2018
Over the past two decades, REDD+ has evolved, and new initiatives have emerged to support its broader objectives, including private sector sustainability commitments, climate-smart agriculture, forest and landscape restoration, and more holistic jurisdictional approaches working across legally defined territories and jurisdictions. This timely new book provides a critical, evidence-based analysis of REDD+ implementation so far, covering important new REDD+ topics such as results-based payments, nationally-determined contributions (NDCs), improved understanding of drivers, stakeholder involvement, and platforms for securing indigenous and community land rights.

Energy, Climate Change & Pollution

No need to transition to clean energy in Indonesia
— Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post, 10 December 2018
“There is no need to transition toward clean energy in Indonesia, because dirty energy is still in high demand,” Tumbur Parlindungan, the newly-appointed chief executive of the Indonesian Petroleum Association (IPA) and President-Director of the state gas firm PT Perusahaan Gas Negara (PGN) told The Jakarta Post. “Let’s talk about it when our society has developed, but who cares about clean energy when we are still growing,” Tumbur said. “It’s different from the crude palm oil industry, which was complained about by the European market, so of course that industry had to change.” Tumbur’s comments echoed earlier remarks by Sofyan Basir, President-Director of the state electric power monopoly PLN. “Our policy on energy is simple: We will shut down any expensive power supply and alter it to the cheapest one,” Sofyan said, despite numerous studies showing that photovoltaic solar energy will be cheaper than coal-based power plants.

Concern in Indonesia over Norway's move against biofuels derived from deforestation
—   Linda Yulisman, Strait Times, 8 December 2018
Indonesia's government and its palm oil producers have expressed concern that Norway may have set a precedent by becoming the first country in the world to exclude biofuels derived from deforestation. The move by the Norwegian Parliament will have a negligible impact on exports from Indonesia, the world's largest producer of palm oil. [But] although the impact will not be significant [for our exports], this will become a bad example for other countries," Dr Mohammad Fadhil Hasan, Director for Foreign Affairs of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI). Indonesia shipped 4,521 tons of palm oil products to Norway last year, a tiny fraction of Indonesia’s total palm oil exports of 31.05 million tons. Dr. Fadhil also expressed doubts about the legislation in Oslo as it was enacted after Indonesia had concluded a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with the European Free Trade Association, comprising Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

Malaysia and Indonesia ‘put pressure on UK government’ to intervene over Iceland’s palm oil ban
Harry Cockburn, The Independent, 6 December 2018
Indonesia and Malaysia have both attempted to persuade the British government to take action after supermarket chain Iceland announced it was cutting palm oil from its own-brand products. In April, Iceland cited concerns about environmental degradation and deforestation when it announced it was removing palm oil from its own-brand products. Six days after Iceland’s announcement, British diplomats had written to colleagues in Indonesia and Malaysia about how to handle these countries’ apparent concern over the supermarket chain move, according to a freedom of information request by Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative journalism unit. One email read: “The Indonesians and Malaysians need to recognize that these developments are being driven by (legitimate) concerns about the environmental impact of palm oil production, which they have not adequately addressed. It is not for us [the UK government] to argue the case for palm oil.”

Green group pushes RI on cutting carbon emissions and clean energy
— Kharishar Kahfi, The Jakarta Post, 4 December 2018
During the on-going United Nations climate summit at Katowice, Poland, an environment watchdog has urged the Indonesian government to redouble efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions caused by energy production and land use change to meet the country’s official emissions reduction targets. Countries participating in the summit are expected to agree to a rulebook firming up their pledges made at the 2015 Paris summit to prevent catastrophic climate change. Firm action has been demanded following a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) urging countries to carry out additional measures in a bid to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030. Watchdog Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) said the report should provide the momentum for the government to reach for cleaner energy to reduce emissions, as Indonesia still relied heavily on coal for energy. The organization has claimed that a number of renewable energy power plants built across the country have prioritized the interests of investing businesses over those of people.

Government considered negligent in handling air pollution issues
— Tempo, 6 December 2018
A group of environmental activists joined in the Jakarta coalition “Clean the Air Movement” (Ibu Kota Movement) filing a lawsuit expressing disappointment over the Jakarta government`s negligence in handling the issue of air pollution. The lawsuit was also presented to the Governor of Banten, the Governor of West Java, the President of the Republic of Indonesia, the Minister of Environment and Forestry, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Home Affairs. Based on Jakarta air quality monitoring data, inhaled fine dust particles reached 38μg/m³ and even reached 100μg/m³ on certain days. According to WHO, the safe limit of fine dust particles inhaled by humans is 25μg/m³. Nelson Nikodemus Simamora stated there were many violations committed by the government related to handling the air pollution issues. To date, no emission tests on motor vehicles in Jakarta have ever been carried out, announced or evaluated. In addition, the government does not regulate coordination for handling pollution among different regions.

Climate change will make us even more stupid
— Adam Forrest, The Independent, 10 December 2018
Rising carbon dioxide emissions could cause a decline in the brainpower of workers around the world, according to a study by researchers at University College London (UCL) published in Building Service Engineering. The UCL team said evidence indicated that “human cognitive performance declines with increasing CO2 levels” and the direct impacts of anthropogenic CO2 emissions on human cognitive performance “may be unavoidable.” The researchers at UCL’s Energy Institute said attempts to minimize the impact was likely to change the way ventilation systems were engineered in buildings and transport systems. Earlier this year, a separate study by Yale School of Public Health found that air pollution caused human intelligence levels to decline. Although their conclusions were based on nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide testing in China, researchers said the connection between air pollution and loss of cognitive capabilities had global implications.

Conservation & Protected Areas

Environmentalists face greater risks amid development drive
— The Jakarta Post, 10 December 2018
Indonesia is an increasingly dangerous place for people defending the environment, based on data showing that environmentalists have been the most persecuted activists over the past four years. According to Protection International Indonesia (IPI), 80% of the human rights violations against activists and rights defenders from 2014 to 2018 involved environmentalists, some of whom were jailed on what were seen as dubious or legally-flawed charges. IPI recorded 104 cases of rights violations involving environmentalists and people defending their land over the period, but only 10 cases involving anti-graft activists, and there were only 11 cases involving environmental defenders over 2010-2013. Of the cases, 89 environmentalists were imprisoned for their activism, making criminalization of environment protection by state actors the most common form of human rights violation against activists. Economic development which disregards the environment was the main reason behind the violations of environmentalists’ rights, said PII Director Damairia Pakpahan. “They only pursue profits without caring about environmental rights,” he said.

Group helps illegal bird traders transition into different lines of business
— Nadine Freischlad, Mongabay, 3 December 2018
Planet Indonesia, an NGO working in the Gunung Niut area of Kalimantan is putting the participatory conservation principle to the test. Instead of focusing on putting poachers and traders behind bars, the group is working to create incentives for them to stop poaching and trading protected animals, a unique approach in Indonesia, where conservation efforts have mostly focused on tighter law enforcement and more rigorous punishment. Around Gunung Niut, Planet Indonesia has a program to help farmers become more productive and profitable by using homemade fertilizer and linking them up with new buyers for their crops. Healthier produce can be sold for more money, reducing the incentive to hunt animals in the forest. The NGO has also upgraded the way forest patrols are carried out. By involving local residents in the patrols, larger areas can be covered, with more transparency and trust in the process. Community members who participate in the patrols are compensated for this work, a further incentive for them to disengage from poaching.


Top official orders ban on single-use plastic in Home Ministry building
— The Jakarta Post, 3 December 2018
Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has begun a battle against plastic waste, ordering all officials under the ministry’s supervision (including canteens in the ministry building in Central Jakarta) to refrain from using single-use water bottles, cups and straws. The Minister made the call for all officials within the Home Ministry and the National Border Management Agency (BNPP) to support the eco-friendly movement, also asking his staff to install posters and banners around the ministry to promote the green movement. "Counters that sell food within the office compound also have to stop using plastic. They have to serve water with a glass," he said. Vice President Jusuf Kalla previously said that the government was mulling over measures to reduce plastic waste, including disincentives for consumers who use plastic bags.

AIIB to support Indonesia’s Sustainable Tourism Development
— Modern Diplomacy, 9 December 2018
The Board of Directors of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have approved a US$248.4 million loan to the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation, guaranteed by the Republic of Indonesia in support of the Mandalika Urban and Tourism Infrastructure Project. This will be AIIB’s first stand-alone operation in Indonesia and AIIB’s first tourism-related infrastructure investment. Indonesia has a strong comparative tourism advantage in accelerating job creation given its rich tourism resources. The project aims to provide sustainable essential infrastructure for the development of new tourism destinations in the Mandalika region of Lombok, including infrastructure improvements in surrounding communities. By facilitating private sector investment, the project is expected to create a significant amount of direct, indirect and induced employment in tourism as well as related businesses, boosting Indonesia’s tourism competitiveness and sustainable economic growth. The project is aligned with the Government of Indonesia’s midterm development plan and the Indonesia Tourism Development Priority Program.

The loan market has a new reward and punishment system to make firms be climate friendly
— Callum Burroughs, Business Insider, 9 December 2018
Companies across some of the world’s murkiest industries have taken steps to save money by taking on “sustainability loans” by which companies can reduce the interest rate on their debt if they meet green criteria but face financial punishment if they don’t. A slew of commodities producers, users, and traders have joined the trend in the past 12 months across areas including the palm oil industry. Major palm oil producer and trader Wilmar signed up to a similar loan last year, the first loan of its kind in the palm oil sector. Singaporean commodity trader Olam took similar steps this year with a US$500 million bank loan linked to a range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics. Switzerland-based oil trader Gunvor announced a sustainability-linked bank loan and will be punished financially if it fails to meet the sustainability targets set out in its loan agreement. Another commodity trader, ECOM, also took the step of linking its financing to its social sustainability objectives in 2018.




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