in Indonesia, Norway

Indonesia’s decision to put the REDD+ Agency in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is “not in accordance” with Norway’s US$1 billion REDD deal

kaltengIndonesia’s president Joko Widodo has closed down the country’s REDD+ Agency. The REDD+ Agency will now become part of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Presidential Decree No. 16, 2015 (pdf file 108 kB, in Bahasa Indonesia), which came into effect on 23 January 2015, revokes and declares invalid Presidential Decree No. 62, 2013, which created the REDD+ Agency as the world’s first Cabinet level REDD institution. The REDD+ Agency was created as part of the US$1 billion REDD deal with Norway.

Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change will also be closed down and absorbed by the Ministry for Environment and Forestry. Both the REDD+ Agency and the NCCC will become part of a Directorate General of Climate Change.

(For some background on the REDD+ Agency and the decision to merge with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, see this post on REDD-Monitor: Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency to be swallowed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.)

Under the new arrangement, the REDD+ Agency will report to the Minister for Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya. Previously it had reported to the President, as agreed in the Letter of Intent signed by Norway and Indonesia in May 2010, which states that Indonesia should, as a preparatory step for implementing REDD:

Establish a special agency reporting directly to the President to coordinate the efforts pertaining to the development and implementation of REDD+.

Heru Prasetyu was the head of REDD+ agency until this re-structuring. He described the new Presidential Decree as “sudden death” for REDD+ Agency. He told journalist Fidelis E. Satriastanti that the new arrangement is in breach of the Letter of Intent with Norway:

“This is not in accordance with the LoI which stated that the [REDD+] agency must report directly to the president and not the minister.”

William Sabandar, former deputy of operations at BP REDD+, made the same point to the Jakarta Globe:

“This is how I see it as a former deputy of BP REDD+. What’s certain is that the presidential decree violates the agreement between the Indonesian government with the Norwegian government which is stated in the Letter of Intent in 2010.”

Norway’s ambassador to Indonesia Stig Traavik doesn’t seem unduly concerned. He told the Jakarta Globe that “Norway was open to some changes”.

“We have heard about the decision but not in detail. The main thing now is how to reach the goal together.”

A good start would involve putting a stop the ongoing legal and illegal logging in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia’s REDD pilot province. The photographs in this post are from a recent report by the Environmental Investigation Agency investigating the link between the expansion of oil palm plantations and illegal logging.

As EIA notes, almost five years after Indonesia and Norway signed the US$1 billion REDD deal, forests in Indonesia are “still wide open for conversion”.

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  1. When logging licences were issued there was a requirement for 4 sq km of forest to be set aside as a germ plasm reserve (plasma nutfah) to conserve biodiversity. It does appear that these reserves have been totally clear felled along with all the protected species of trees (such as ones used by bees for their hives). Have any attempts been made to prosecute the companies for destroying these ‘islands of former biodiversity”?

  2. I reckon Jokowi’s policy to merge REDD+ Agency into Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) is appropriate step and has to be supported by stakeholders. Some possible positive outcomes with the merging of REDD+ Agency into MoEF: i) Government of Indonesia is seriously to address deforestation and degradation issues in the country through a permanent and professional government agency namely MoEF; ii) Government will seriously allocated budget for addressing deforestation and degradation through state budget on annual and long term bases; iii) MoEF has a long term professional record and enormous technical and professional staffs who understand very much about strategies to address deforestation and degradation in proper manners; iv) any international financial assistance related to REDD+ activities (e.g. Norway’s 1 billion dollars) can be channeled through official government agency rather than through multilateral organizations where government of Indonesia has a very limited control and direction upon the usage and in channeling the money; and v) MoEF has billion dollars of reforestation fund that can be directed and use for boosting reforestation and forest protection activities on the ground as part of REDD+ activities.

    With regards the issue of Indonesian government breach the LoI between Indonesia and Norway, I think LoI is not an official agreement or contract between two countries, but it is rather a good intention of both countries to work together to address deforestation and forest degradation issues in Indonesia. Therefore, this LoI I reckon is still possible to be amended or modified in order to suit with new structure of the MoEF Agency.

  3. ‘ Sudden Death – a nice description by ex minister Heru . i was in Indonesia three days ago for an exposure visit and all what i heard and saw personaly about REDD+ Indonesia was a lesson and very encouraging to emulate from . Heru – was too optimistic that the new government of Jokoo widodo will either keep existing REDD+ status or elevate it to a more higher level so that it could discharge its duties and responsibilities of protecting and conserving the forests of this big country effectively . ‘ i believe and i trust government commitment to forestry and Climate change is too high,” he was saying repeatedly during my encounter with him . no country has nominated a minister and a ministry level to REDD, he was heard as saying .However now that the REDD monitor has reported as it predicted earlier – Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency to be swallowed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry- that the status of the agency went down to the level of directorate under the ministry of Environment and forestry is a bad and sad news for me too . what is feared by many including people in and around the sector is finally has come true . what a roll back in the history of forestry it is !! REDD+ was/is new, complex, and and complicated , many said. and now more and more complicated. the more and more it is complicated , the less and less .. ! lets wait and see who knows distance lends enchantment !!, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

  4. See also this article in the Jakarta Post, by Pungky Widiaryanto:

    Merging REDD+ into ministry should be more effective

    He points out that as an independent institution, “BP REDD+’s authority was unclear; its appearance as an ad hoc organization provoked conflicts with other ministries.”

    Pungky’s article ends with a list of commitments made so far by Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya:

    In addressing the underlying causes of deforestation, Minister Siti made some commitments. First, to increase good forest governance the ministry is ready to establish up to 600 forest management units to manage about 137 million hectare of forestland.

    Second, with regard to solving forest tenure issue, the ministry is also allocating around 12 million hectares of forest area to be managed by local communities and indigenous peoples for five years. This commitment complies with safeguard issues under the principles of REDD+.

    Third, the Minister just established a de-bottlenecking policy by delegating all forestry related businesses’ permits to the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). In addition to one-stop licensing services, this new policy principally aims to prevent corrupt practices. Furthermore, the Minister also promises to continue the one map policy initiative for avoiding overlap land allocation in administering the forest areas.

    All forest policy reforms above are good signals that “change comes from within” for the success of REDD+ in Indonesia. The merging of BP REDD+ into the ministry, however, must be monitored and controlled by the public to ensure transparency and accountability.