This week (from 17-22 April), the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Taskforce takes place in Aceh province, Indonesia. Three working groups in the meeting will discuss standards and criteria; project based carbon accounting; and funding.
But local groups feel they have been excluded from the discussions and from the REDD-type project at Ulu Masen in Aceh province.
Yesterday, the Acehnese Civil Society Forum for the Sovereignty of Mukim released a press release signed by 51 groups:
Local community, the forgotten host: Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) meeting in Aceh
Acehnese Civil Society Forum for the Sovereignty of Mukim
Released on: May 17th, 2010
Banda Aceh – Indonesia. Visitors to the capital of Aceh province these weeks will see giant billboards sit proudly in the town’s strategic corners announcing an important meeting. From 17th to 22nd of May 2010 the governor of Aceh province Indonesia, is playing host to the meeting of the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Taskforce. The Governors group originated in a 2008 meeting called the Governors’ Global Climate Summit in California hosted by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The establishment of the taskforce is one of the first implementation of the Joint Action Plan agreed at the follow-up meeting in Belem, Brazil, in 2009.
The two Indonesian local governments of Aceh and Papua, who have been involved in the group since its conception, put REDD projects on the table as key Green House Gases (GHG) and forest activities. So far, the Ulu Masen project is the high-profile REDD project in Aceh developed by Flora Fauna International. The international NGO has been able to attract the interest of carbon trader such as the Australian company Carbon Conservation with projection to generate 3.3 million carbon credits. FFI claims that using the assumption of carbon market price of US$5, the project may be able to fetch around US$16.5 million each year . The fund generated bound to be fluctuated consistent to the nature of market.
The glossy picture of smiling governors on the billboards and the promise of big bucks from REDD projects, however, are contrast to the first impression of GCF, that is being exclusive. Despite the agenda to include stakeholders, the organizer charged a USD250 entrance fee per person, which is prohibitive to local groups such as forest peoples to take part. Yet it is their livelihood that is going to be affected by any decision made. Only in latter date the organizer introduce fee waiver for some groups on RSVP basis. Furthermore, the forest carbon initiatives created confusion amongst the local people as reflected on the letter of Forum mukim  of Aceh Besar dated 29th April 2010 addressed to the Aceh Governor. They put forward questions as follow:
- What is REDD and how REDD can solve the main problem of global warming and climate change?
- What are the benefits and disadvantages of REDD for the community?
- What is Ulu Masen and why Ulu Masen is created in our area? Could you show us where exactly the area of Ulu Masen is? To our knowledge, the area you have claimed as Ulu Masen is our Gunong (Mount) Seulawah.
- With reference to your claim of the Ulu Masen area, how does Aceh government actually recognise the Mukim Spatial Plan?
- Given that mukim is a recognised legal unit with authority to manage itself, to what extent does the Aceh province government respect the rights of mukim to land including forests?
These questions reveal the fact behind the hype marketing of Aceh as REDD designated area that the fundamental question of rights to the area has not been addressed, let alone resolved. Further, basic information about forest and climate projects is barely available for the affected local people. This lead to confirm the first impression to the GCF event as a projection of elitist initiatives.
The Aceh Besar mukim leaders therefore agree to:
- reject any REDD proposal before the issues of delineation between mukims area, mukim spatial plan, recognition of indigenous community rights to land and management of natural resources and other property are resolved;
- reject Ulu Masen as protected forest area because Ulu Masen is unknown to the local community. The management and purpose of Ulu Masen area are not clear for the local people;
- call for securing the legality of the management and delineation of mukim area as a prerequisite to establish Aceh Besar Spatial Planning.
The Aceh Besar mukims are supported by other local leaders as stated in a statement signed by 17 mukim leaders of 5 districts in Aceh. Support also granted by representatives of Acehnese civil society. The statement of mukim leaders reads:
“We demand Aceh province government to recognise our sovereignty of our land and natural resources by way of clarifying the border of mukims region, regional spatial planning, recognition to our land rights and our authority to natural resources and other properties. Therefore we demand self-governance at mukim level.”
Civil Society Forum for the Sovereignty of Mukim
1. Majlis Duek Pakat Mukim Aceh Besar
2. Yayasan Rumpun Bambu Indonesia (YRBI)
3. Jaringan Komunitas Masyarakat Adat Aceh (JKMA Aceh)
4. Koalisi NGO HAM
5. LBH Aceh
6. Walhi Aceh
7. Forum LSM Aceh
8. PeNa (Peduli Nanggroe Aceh)
9. Uno Itam
13. Solidaritas Perempuan (SP)
14. Kontras Aceh
16. SUM(Sahabat Ulu Masen)
17. Yayasan Lamjabat
18. LBH Lingkungan
19. G-fon (Green Forum)
20. Mahasiswa Peduli Keadilan
21. Kata Hati
22. Yayaysan Ekosistem Leuser
25. RPuK(Relawan Perempuan untuk Kemanusian)
26. ACSTF(Aceh Civil Society Task Force)
27. Saree School
28. KUALA(Koalisi untuk Laut Aceh)
32. Bingkai Indonesia Jogja
34. SMUR(Solidaritas Mahasiswa Untuk Rakyat)
35. Poros Lauser
37. Tikar Pandan
38. PCC (People Criss Centre)
39. AJMI (Aceh Justice Monitoring Independen)
42. SEIA (Serikat Inong Aceh)
45. BEM Fakultas Hukum Unsyiah
46. BEM Pertanian Unsyiah
47. Badko HMI Aceh
48. BEM FISIP Unsyiah
49. Mapala Hukum
50. Mapala STIK
51. Fak Teknik Lingkungan Universitas Serambi Mekkah
 As stated on FFI’s website accessed on 14th May 2010
 A Mukim is the Acehnese traditional legal unit of governance between gampong (lowest level of customary governance) and sub-district – usually covers several gampongs.