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
2019 – 6: 20 March 2019

Marine & Fisheries

Project seeks to improve the Indonesian shrimp farming sector
—    The Fish Site, 18 March 2019
A new project, designed to improve the sustainability of Indonesia’s shrimp farming sector, has been launched by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). The two-year project, centered in Banyuwangi in East Java, will focus on improving the sustainability of aquaculture in the region, as well as governance and management of ongoing shrimp farming. SFP is working to coordinate the project, together with Conservation International (CI) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative and Longline Environment (IDH). “This program will support the Ministry’s efforts to grow sustainable shrimp exports from Indonesia,” said Machmud, Directorate General of Product Competitiveness at the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. The project is designed to address disease risks and environmental impacts across a politically and ecologically relevant location, to attract investment and insurance, and create a scalable model that can be exported to other geographies. “This project builds positively on the [aquaculture best practice] guidelines we jointly developed and creates the action needed to ensure a sustainable future for the shrimp industry in Indonesia,” said Dane Klinger, aquaculture innovation fellow at CI.

Indonesia’s tuna fisheries race for sustainability
—    Basten Gokkon, Eco-Business, 18 March 2019
Indonesia is racing to certify its world-leading tuna fisheries as sustainable, drawn by the lucrative global market for eco-labeled seafood. Since 2014, the government has rolled out a series of tough measures to drive reform in the capture fisheries sector of one of the world’s biggest seafood-producing nations. These efforts have fueled a massive recovery in fish stocks over the past few years, the government says, and the focus is now on attaining international certification to benefit from a growing appetite for sustainably caught fish. The biggest draw for fishing communities and commercial fishing operators certified as sustainable is that they can sell their produce at a premium price of at least 16 cents over non-certified seafood products, said Zulficar Mochtar, the head of capture fisheries at the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. “Although it’s a voluntary decision by fisheries operators to get certified, we’re urging them to do it because this is part of our efforts to fix the fisheries industry at large,” he said.

Indonesia, Timor Leste, and FAO collaborate to improve marine ecosystems
—   Rahmad Nasution, Antara News, 7 March 2019
The Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) and government agencies from seven provinces have agreed on a plan to improve the management of the Indonesian Seas Large Marine Ecosystem (ISLME). According to the FAO, the management plan was developed as part of a regional project implemented by Indonesia and Timor Leste, which covers 213 million hectares of territorial waters included in the ISLME. The regional project will focus on five priority areas and include demonstrations of ecosystem approaches to fisheries management and aquaculture, of marine spatial planning, and of marine protected areas for blue swimming crab, lobster, mud crab, and deep-water fisheries. “Together with the local governments, we expect this initiative will have positive impact on the management of fish resources, especially the restoration of habitat and fish stocks in coastal and marine waters that are in line with the fisheries management plan set by the Ministry,” stated Zulficar Mochtar, Director General of Capture Fisheries at KKP.

How Bumble Bee uses blockchain to track and trace your fish
—    Judith Magyar, Forbes, 11 March 2019
Have you ever stood in the supermarket aisle with a package of fish in your hand curious about its journey from the deep blue sea? Wondering who caught it, packed it, shipped it? “Thanks to blockchain technology, shoppers will soon be able to gain valuable insights about their fish and how it was sustainably caught by simply scanning a QR code on their mobile phones,” said Tony Costa, CIO at Bumble Beed Foods. “We’re working with a number of partners, including the Indonesian government, suppliers, processors, and NGOs, like Fair Trade USA, to trace our tuna from its source in Indonesia to the store in the States.” Costa has made the trip to Ampera Village on Indonesia’s Seram Island several times to meet the men and women behind the Fair Trade certified fishery. “We’re not just selling fish,” explains Robert Tjoanda, the owner of a receiving plant. “The QR code tells the story of the fish…This kind of information is what separates us and proves our fish comes from clean ocean waters and fair trade conditions.”

Forestry & Land Use 

Study identifies climate-resilient trees to help orangutan conservation
—    Taran Volckhausen, Mongabay, 15 March 2019
Once written off as a lost cause for conservation, Indonesia’s Kutai National Park (KNP) supports one of the last forest canopies on Borneo’s eastern coast, a habitat for the critically endangered East Bornean orangutan. A recent IUCN study has identified tree species that are resilient to deepening drought and fires brought on by climate change in Indonesian Borneo. The species will be used for government-backed forest restoration efforts in KNP which has been severely degraded by human settlement and forest fires. “Increasing drought and fires caused by a warming climate are important emerging threats to species-rich areas such as Kutai National Park. Selecting climate-resilient tree species can help protect the park and the orangutan populations it shelters,” said Alan Lee, lead author of the study. Nur Patria Kurniawan, head of the park, said the results would guide ecosystem restoration activities and “will be implemented not only in Kutai National Park, but also in tropical forests outside the KNP.”

Humans, elephants clash in Jambi village
—   Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post, 14 March 2019
The last time residents of Semerantihan village in Sumay district, Tebo regency, Jambi, had a good night’s sleep without worrying that a herd of Sumatran elephants would roam into their residential area was four years ago.Semerantihan village is located within the 508,000-hectare Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem that stretches from Riau to Jambi. The ecosystem is considered to be the last sanctuary for several endangered species, including the Sumatran orangutan, tiger and elephant.Every night, villagers go on patrol around the village to drive away the elephants. The rampant conversion of forests and land into plantations is thought to be the main cause of human-elephant conflicts across the country. Data from WWF Indonesia in 2015 showed that Indonesia had the highest number of human-elephant conflicts in Asia. Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Agency head Rahmat Saleh Simbolon said the agency had been working for several years to map out the elephants’ migratory routes. “The only way to prevent these animals from expanding their roaming area is to install wire fences,” Rahmat said.

The palm-oil industry’s effort to curb deforestation has lots of flaws
—    The Economist, 7 March 2019
In some ways oil palm is indeed a wondrous crop. On a per-hectare basis it produces between six and ten times more oil than equivalents, like soy beans. And that oil is highly versatile, turning up in about half of all supermarket products. That explains why Indonesia’s palm oil industry has ballooned since the early 1990s. Land devoted to oil palm now covers an area the size of Greece. But to make way for plantations, huge swathes of tropical rainforest have been razed. In the 2000s, Indonesia was cutting down more forest than anywhere else in the world. There may, however, be cause for hope. In the past few years the palm-oil industry and the Indonesian government have attempted to save more trees. Satellite images show that in 2017 the rate of deforestation in Indonesia fell to its lowest level in two decades. Judging whether this change is the result of the industry’s new approach is confounded by two factors: the weather and the price of palm oil.

Energy, Climate Change, & Pollution

Europe, in bid to phase out palm biofuel, leaves fans and foes dismayed
—   Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 15 March 2019
The European Commission has officially approved a measure to phase out palm oil-based biofuel by 2030. But the phase-out doesn’t mean a ban on palm oil in biofuels. EU member states will still be able to import and use palm oil-based biodiesel, but it will no longer be considered a renewable fuel or be eligible for the associated subsidies. Officials in Indonesia and Malaysia, which together account for 85% of the global palm oil supply, have slammed the European Commission’s decision as discriminating against palm oil in support of producers of other types of vegetable oils, primarily made in Europe. Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for the Economy said the Indonesian government would challenge the European Commission’s latest decision at the World Trade Organization (WTO). “This is a form of discrimination against Indonesian products,” said Musdhalifah Machmud, deputy for food and agriculture at the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy. The WTO can order member states to remove policies deemed to be in breach of free trade rules.

Pertamina hopes to benefit from Petronas deal
—  Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post, 9 March 2019
State energy holding company Pertamina hopes that its recent deal with Malaysia’s state-owned oil giant Petronas will help its businesses expand more efficiently in the long run amid fluctuations in the global oil price. The deal, signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in late February, would be an umbrella agreement for future business cooperation between both companies in terms of operational activities and other strategic measures, said Heru Setiawan who is Pertamina’s director of investment planning and risk management. As a follow-up to a previous government-to-government agreement, the deal also enables the two parties to join hands in working on their overseas portfolios, or oil and gas fields outside of their respective countries. Setiawan said there could be possible collaboration upstream, midstream and downstream, such as research and development, joint exploration activities, technology implementation in oil and gas blocks as well as the trade of products and the sharing of knowledge with regards to renewable energy.

Palm oil producers eye domestic market amid challenges
—   Arya Dipa, The Jakarta Post, 18 March 2019
Amid tough global market challenges, the country’s palm oil producers are keen to expand into the domestic market in order to boost absorption and stay afloat. “The challenge, for now, is to find a new market for our products if we face obstacles in the international market. Whether we want it or not, we have to open the domestic market,” said Santosa, president director of PT Astra Agro Lestari (AALI). Santosa expressed hope that the government would soon implement the B100 policy, which is the use of 100% biodiesel as the mandatory fuel for specific vehicles. Since September 2018, the government has implemented a mandatory 20% biodiesel policy for specific vehicles, including trains and mining vehicles. Santosa suggested that state-owned electricity company PLN should use renewable energy to replace fossil fuel at its power plants. “Indonesia’s palm oil raw materials are certainly sufficient. What we should focus on now is whether it will be more profitable to use them or to sell them,” he said.
Conservation & Protected Areas

Moi Kelim saves millions of dollars by keeping forests
—    Karina M. Tehusijarana, The Jakarta Post, 12 March 2019
In an attempt to demonstrate the value that indigenous people can bring through their traditional way of life the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) commissioned an economic study of the Moi Kelim tribe in Malaumkarta village, Sorong regency, West Papua. According to the study, conducted by Padjadjaran University economist Zuzy Anna, the villagers’ conservation of their traditional forest and coastal regions is valued Rp 156 billion (US$11.2 million) per year with a monthly per capita income of Rp 3.4 million, which is higher than the regency’s minimum wage and its non-oil and gas gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Zuzy hoped that the study could be used as a basis of extended cost-benefit analysis for the government in determining whether an area should be developed for forestry or palm oil plantations. “If the government wants to start development here, it should compare it to this baseline,” she said. “Any development should provide a greater income to the residents than the baseline.”

Smuggler arrested in Papua with over 2,000 endangered turtles
—    The Jakarta Post, 15 March 2019
A man has been arrested for trying to smuggle 2,000 endangered pig-nosed turtles, police said, marking the latest wildlife trafficking arrest as the Southeast Asian nation battles the vast trade. Authorities in Papua province said they seized 2,227 of the palm-sized turtles which were stuffed into boxes on a boat docked in the remote town of Agats. “Officers saw a port worker carrying three big boxes and got suspicious,” Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said. “This is a protected species and they are not for sale,” he added. If convicted, the arrested man could face up to five years in prison and a Rp. 100 million (US $7,000) fine, police said. The pig-noses turtle – which has a distinctive snout-like nose and webbed feet – is only found in Australia and New Guinea and is protected under Indonesian conservation laws. It was not clear where the turtle shipment was headed. In 2014, Indonesian officials rescued more than 8,000 baby pig-nosed turtles hidden in suitcases and thought to be destined for China and Singapore.

Amid tourism push, concern grows over Indonesia’s Komodo dragons
—    Michael Sullivan, NPR, 12 March 2019
Komodo National Park in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province is one of the areas the government has targeted in its plan to create “10 new Balis.” But local officials and conservationists warn that Bali, which alone saw 5 million tourists last year – about a third of Indonesia’s total – may not be an ideal model. They argue that over-tourism could threaten the well-being of the park’s diverse wildlife, including the Komodo dragon, which is classified as a vulnerable species. The government wants to see 500,000 tourists come to Labuan Bajo, the gateway to Komodo National Park in Flores, this year. That’s roughly double the number that came last year. But the Park could be under threat, critics warn, if the government goes ahead with its plan to sharply increase the number of visitors. Some rangers say there are already too many tourists. A 2018 World Wildlife Fund study showed Komodo National Park can safely handle about 150,000 divers and 170,000 visitors on land, per year. That is far below the government target of 500,000 visitors.

Indonesia has a plan to deal with its plastic waste problem
—    Kate Whiting, World Economic Forum, 13 March 2019
Indonesia is second only to China as the world’s largest contributor to the global ocean plastic problem – with four of its rivers among the top 20 polluters globally. But the Indonesian government, in partnership with civil society and businesses, has taken a bold step towards addressing plastic pollution. The Coordinating Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry are teaming up with the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) to take an innovative and data-driven approach to solving the crisis. Local waste management data will be collected in Jakarta and used to build an analytical model to evaluate solutions that can contribute to the country’s ambitious national plan to reduce marine plastic debris by 70% by 2025. GPAP aims to transform the current ‘take-make-dispose’ model into a circular economy, where plastic produced is ultimately recycled and reused. It is set up by the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) and the Friends of Ocean Action, and hosted by the World Economic Forum.

Efforts to improve natural rubber demand
—   Andrian Bagus Santoso, The Jakarta Post, 20 March 2019
Natural rubber has been one of Indonesia’s key export commodities for many years with exports reaching a value of US$3.95 billion in 2018; the sixth-biggest exported product nationally. However, the value recorded last year was 22.7% lower than the $5.11 billion seen in 2017.The main cause of weak performance being a lower global price for natural rubber, as demand has decreased, particularly as a result of the trade war between the United States and China.To recover the global price of natural rubber, the three member countries of the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC)—Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia—which together produce more than 70% of the commodity worldwide, have decided to decrease exports by 240,000 tons from April to July 2019. The main reason for these measures is to boost the global price of natural rubber by limiting supply while simultaneously coordinating with ITRC governments to promote domestic consumption of natural rubber.

For fisheries activists, Indonesian candidates offer little to work with
—    Basten Gokkon et. al, Mongabay, 13 March 2019
Marine conservationists in Indonesia say neither of the two candidates running in this year’s presidential election has shown any real commitment to boosting the sustainability of one of the world’s largest ocean fisheries. President Joko Widodo is seeking re-election in next month’s election after coming into office in 2014 on a promise to fulfill Indonesia’s potential as a maritime powerhouse. His rival, Prabowo Subianto, has similarly made resource nationalism, including of fisheries and other industries, a cornerstone of his platform. But observers have criticized both men over their lack of stated policies for improving the sector. “Neither of the two candidates has a plan to protect and empower the livelihoods of more than 12 million fishing households who live in 12,000 coastal villages in Indonesia,” said Susan Herawati, secretary general for the local NGO People’s Coalition for Justice in Fisheries (Kiara). A key point that the current administration has failed to establish is a more stringent fisheries law, said Arifsyah Nasution, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia.

Lack of awareness for green buildings in Jakarta
—    Vela Andapita, The Jakarta Post, 15 March 2019
While there is growing awareness in Indonesia about preserving the environment, not much has been done to educate the public about energy-saving buildings. From their construction to operation, buildings across the globe consume 40% of the energy countries produce and 12% of clean water. Adding to that, buildings contribute 25% of global waste production and 35% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to global energy management company Schneider Electric. Green Building Council Indonesia (GBCI) chairman Iwan Prijanto said that the lack of awareness has hampered green building projects in Jakarta and nationwide. “GBCI members comprise almost all developers in Indonesia. There have also been regulations that make green building mandatory. But if there’s no demand from the market, it will go nowhere,” Prijanto said. The government, through the Public Works and Housing Ministry, as well as the Jakarta administration, have issued regulations aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of the construction sector. However, Prijanto notes, “it requires all parties to support the green or smart building movement; the government, developers, customers and also banks.”

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