The German newspaper taz.de, recently reported on the demise of Australia’s Kalimantan Forest and Climate Partnership. Journalist Anett Keller visited the KFCP project area in 2011. “This is money thrown out of the window,” a villager told her back then.
A translation of Keller’s article is posted below. For German speakers, the original is available here: Klimapolitik in Indonesien: Missglückter Waldschutz.
Last week, REDD-Monitor had an exchange on twitter with someone working with the Indonesian government in Central Kalimantan, on a project that includes blocking up drainage canals. The failure of KFCP is “is exposed out of proportion”, he wrote.
“The hardest part of REDD is to deal with the community,” he told me. “They don’t want the ex-MRP [mega-rice project] drainage canals blocked.”
However, after “long persuasion with the locals” canal blocking has started.
I asked him whether, by “long persuasion” he meant a process of free, prior and informed consent. “They don’t care about FPIC,” he replied. “You can’t make them understand climate change when they’re hungry.”
“We learned from KFCP’s failure in negotiating with the community,” he added.
You can read the full exchange, here. REDD-Monitor looks forward to hearing more about the Indonesian government’s project to block peat drainage canals in Central Kalimantan. And for more on FPIC and REDD, see this report published by RECOFTC and GIZ, also available in bahasa Indonesia.
Climate Policy in Indonesia: Unsuccessful forest protection
By Anett Keller, taz.de, 25 August 2013
For the residents of the village of Katunjung, that taz visited in November 2011, the comings and goings of international consultants was already then suspect. Katunjung is located in Central Kalimantan, the pilot province for REDD+ in Indonesia.
REDD stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”. In the process states and companies gain the right to CO2 emissions by funding forest protection projects. In Central Kalimantan, the Australian-Indonesian Kalimantan Forest and Climate Partnership (KFCP) attempted to implement a REDD+ pilot project on an area of 120,000 hectares.
KFCP aimed to provide important insights in the fight against climate change on the peatswamp areas of Kapuas district. Over a period of 30 years, 100 million trees were to be planted, compensating for 700 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. KFCP also planned to block drainage canals that Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto had built to drain the peat swamps for a mega-rice project in the 1990s.
The residents of Katunjung, mainly members of the indigenous Dayak peoples, live off the electricity grid. Water comes from the Kapuas River that flows in front of their stilt houses. There is no road leading to the village. Since 2007, villagers have seen expensive speedboats go by, bringing climate change experts. They have listened to the presentations about why it is so important, precisely there where they live, to save the world’s climate. Famous politicians have visited the province and smiled into the television cameras with great optimism about REDD.
Planning without the villagers
But the villagers paint a different picture. The project was planned without them. Important information was withheld from them. The result is that only 50,000 trees were planted. Even fewer actually grew in the area selected for tree planting. The blocking of the drainage canals also failed in many places because of the resistance of local residents. For years the drainage canals have been the way villagers travel to their rubber trees.
After growing international criticism, the flagship project was cancelled in late June – without seeking any public attention. The KFCP website states, “KFCP will not extend in its current form.” Indonesia and Australia are discussing “which parts might benefit from additional work in the next 12 months to maximise outcomes.”
Environmentalists point out that transparent information looks different. In an open letter, Friends of the Earth Australia is calling on the Australian government to “front up to the public in an open and honest way,” after it had announced such ambitious goals. “Walking away from a $47 million dollar investment without accounting for how the money was spent and what the outcomes are is unacceptable in any situation,” says Nick McClean, coordinator for climate justice at FoE Australia.
Concrete problems described in practice
Among the questions that FoE sees the need for clarification is which problems the approach of “rewarding” the local population with financial incentives for planting seedlings and blocking of drainage canals brought in practice.
Also unclear, according to FoE, is why a planned World Bank fund for the project did not happen and why the Finnish government’s planned co-financing did not take place. And in the context of the observance of indigenous rights in the KFCP project, why was a World Bank guideline applied instead of the UN principle of free, prior and informed consent.
“The unwillingness of REDD partners to help secure the rights of customary landholders is proving a key problem with this approach,” said Isaac Rojas of FoE International. “Getting to the bottom of why these problems keep occurring will help in developing partnerships with local communities that can lead to effective conservation programs.”
PHOTO Credit: The Star Online.