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Environmental Governance in Indonesia

For more than two decades, The Asia Foundation has backed local initiatives to ensure the sustainability of natural resources across Asia. Working with civil society organizations, government and the private sector, the Foundation understands the complex interplay between environmental protection, economic development, local and regional government relations, private sector incentives and the rights of local communities. Improved governance is a vital component of any response to deforestation, land degradation and climate change and a key factor in achieving successful, sustainable development.


Indonesia is home to some of the worlds largest and most biologically diverse tropical forests, and its resources are critical to the livelihoods of 50-70 million people. Yet deforestation rates in the country are also among the highest in the world. Over the past twenty years, on average more than one million hectares were cleared annually for the expansion of croplands, the exploitation of mineral resources or conversion to oil palm or pulpwood plantations. Thats around one third of the size of Belgium every year. Rapid deforestation, combined with peatland degradation, has made Indonesia one of the top three emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. When President Yudhoyono pledged to drastically slash Indonesias carbon emissions from business as usual levels by 2020, he made the largest reduction commitments by a developing country to date. Given that around 80 percent of Indonesias emissions come from deforestation and land use change, the greatest opportunities to cut greenhouse gas emissions will come from this sector. And as a lack of good governance has been shown to contribute

to deforestation, improving environmental governance can mitigate climate change, while also delivering crucial benefits for indigenous and forest-dependent communities and conserving biodiversity. The Asia Foundation is supporting Indonesian efforts toward these ambitious goals and targets.

Indonesia has the third largest area of tropical forests in the world, and ranks among the top deforesting countries. Indonesia is the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Almost 80 percent of its emissions stem from deforestation and land use change, including peatland degradation.

An Asia Foundation study of land use, land use change and forestry at the local level in Indonesia identified spatial planning and permit processes as issues central to environmental governance in Indonesia. The Foundations new environmental governance initiative, which began in 2012, is engaging national- and locallevel partners from government, civil society and the private sector to promote transparency and accountability in spatial planning and permit processes, with a strong focus at the district level. A central pillar of the Foundations environmental governance program involves helping to build credible multi-stakeholder coalitions capable of addressing land use and forestry issues and pushing for policy change. A coalition

The Asia Foundation brings years of experience facilitating civil society and government to promote good governance to the environment sector.

building approach is being used to foster new collaborations between environmental nongovernmental organizations and governancefocused organizations, many of which have not engaged with environmental issues in the past.

The 2008 Freedom of Information Act provided the Indonesian public with the right to unprecedented access to information from government agencies. The Foundation is providing technical support to assist local governments to make information on land use and forestry policies available to the public. Alongside this process, the Foundation is facilitating its civil society partners to obtain and use information on spatial planning and permitting processes, improving their ability to actively participate in land use decisions. Recognizing the importance of local budgets for environmental protection and rehabilitation, the Foundation is also supporting partners to conduct fiscal analysis of environment-related local budgets and revenues. Partners are examining natural resource revenue streams, the distribution of benefits from natural resource exploitation and the utilization of environmental protection budgets. The data obtained will serve as a way to stimulate stakeholder discussion on reform and provide positive input on effective use of local budgets for environmental conservation. Inconsistent land mapping and overlapping policies that blur the lines of responsibility between the central and regional governments can complicate spatial planning and permit processes. The Foundation is collaborating with local partners to improve coordination between different levels of government. With assistance from the Foundation, partners are providing input from the local level to support the formulation of national policies that accurately reflect the regulatory environment in the regions. Similarly, local partners are being supported to formulate and enact policies that allow for the implementation of the many good national environmental protection laws.

Strengthening the rule of law and the rights of local communities is a key component of environmental governance. Environmental and social impact assessments, for example, are required by law, but standards are uneven and most do not address gender concerns. The Foundations national- and local-level partners are helping to improve compliance with land use and forestry laws and working to ensure local and indigenous communities rights are recognized. Partners are providing support to communities, local governments, and civil society organizations to ensure land use decisions are transparent and participatory, and result in satisfactory outcomes for affected parties. An important aspect of this component of the program is engaging with government and private sector actors to improve their observance of the principles of free, prior and informed consent. The Indonesian government has recognized that unclear land tenure leads to conflicts over natural resource management as well as uncertainty for the private sector. The Foundation and its partners are contributing to civil society and government efforts to clarify land tenure issues. This will include contributing to policy debates, supporting governments in improving implementation of existing community-based forest management programs, assisting communities in understanding and accessing such programs, and working to develop innovative models of complaints handling that enable strong community oversight.

The Asia Foundation is a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization. Through its programs, the Foundation builds leadership, improves policies, and strengthens institutions to foster greater openness and shared prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. It is funded by contributions from corporations, foundations, individuals, and governmental organizations in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia, and Asia, and an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress.

The Foundations strategy will be underpinned by studies of land use and forestry to identify entry points to improve good governance, and to understand and address how environmental governance issues intersect with poverty, gender and indigenous peoples rights. The Foundation is working closely alongside local research partners from government and civil society, helping to build their capacity and supporting the creation of a robust regional network of environmentally concerned researchers. Study findings will be disseminated among the Foundations broader network, further contributing to government efforts to improve environmental governance in Indonesia.

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The Asia Foundations environmental governance program in Indonesia is generously supported by the UK Climate Change Unit and other private donors.