Indonesia’s environment minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, and her Norwegian counterpart, Ola Elvestuen, announced last month that Indonesia was finally set to receive the first part of a US$1 billion payment pledged by the Norwegian government to preserve its vast tropical rainforests. The Jakarta Post’s Kharishar Kahfi and Dian Septiari sat down with the Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia Vegard Kaale about the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) partnership and other fields of cooperation the two countries have to mitigate climate change.
It has been almost 10 years since the signing of the REDD+ deal between Indonesia and Norway. Why did Norway eventually agree to pay the first payments to Indonesia?
Answer: Indonesia and Norway started the partnership almost 10 years ago and what Norway did was committing $1 billion if Indonesia reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. This is a cooperation we also have with other countries, so this is a national climate initiative.
Indonesia is one of the biggest partners we have, Brazil is also one of our biggest, and there are a couple of other countries as well.
In order to support this significant policy reform and the implementation of it, it is needed for Indonesia to reduce deforestation. Norway was willing to invest around 20 percent of this $1 billion to build up the necessary institutions to prepare for this result-based payment, so we have some work to do. So we have worked closely on this with the Indonesians for many years.
With this latest agreement, from now on Norway will start paying for verified emissions reduction in Indonesia, so we have to verify the numbers.
The reason that they agreed to start doing this now is twofold: Indonesia has for the first time confirmed that carbon emissions from deforestation declined in 2016 to 2017; and Indonesia and Norway have also agreed on the routes to determine how many tons of CO2 Indonesia can be paid for.
So it does take a while, but it is important to do this thoroughly so that it will benefit Indonesia, Norway and also the international community.
Why now? Why couldn’t this have happened 4 or 5 years ago?
It is important to establish the necessary institutions and reform, it could be everything from moratoriums to mapping Indonesia’s forests, which is large and takes time.
Secondly, it was not until now that Indonesia confirmed that carbon emission and deforestation had declined. So we have for a while been negotiating the routes to calculate how many tons Indonesia could get paid for by Norway or other partners.
And the payments were therefore not possible until now, but we continue to support Indonesia’s effort to reduce deforestation and […] this is reflected in the 20 percent that was disbursed previously.
How is progress on further ne- gotiations on payments?
Indonesia and Norway have agreed that we will now go through the final verification, and verification is the keyword when it comes to everything agreed on. [Once] we have the baseline then we can start the payments. This verification […] will determine the final volume of CO2 reduction Indonesia can get paid for.
The bottom line is when you have this baseline you have agreed on the verification and then we will start the payment accordingly, that is what this resultbased payment refers to.
Which price will be used on the Indonesian scheme?
We are now in the process of agreeing on the price. Hopefully we can have this in the very near future. In other REDD+ partnerships like Brazil or other forest countries, the price is $5 per ton.
Norway would be happy to assist Indonesia in getting a high price with others, including private companies, because that is also possible and thus Indonesia makes larger emissions reductions and also gets paid from more than one source, for example green climate funds and private funds, so there are more
stakeholders that can contribute.
Apart from REDD+, is there any other cooperation with Indonesia that will be realized in the near future in mitigating climate change? How is the progress on such measures?
REDD+ is the main pillar in cooperation, but Norway and Indonesia, we are coastal nations, and we are very close in cooperation on various ocean issues: in the fight against illegal fishing, the management of the sea, but also to fight marine litter. This is a global, enormous challenge and we have the problem in Norway and we have it here in Indonesia.
We have recently initiated three projects in Indonesia in order to assist in reducing the amount of plastic and litter in the ocean. These projects started last year and we do hope that in the very near future we will see a positive effect of this cooperation, at least of course positive for the sustainability of the ocean but also positive for the climate.
Indonesia hosted the Our Ocean Conference in Bali in October, and Norway will host the next Our Ocean Conference, so we will follow up and we will then discuss with Indonesia what we should follow up.
And also, our prime minister established one-and-a-half years ago a high level panel on how we can preserve and reach a sustainable ocean, including businesses harvesting from the ocean, fisheries, litter and so on. This high level panel consisted of heads of state, including President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. So this high level panel will deliver a report next year.