With the growing threat of climate change, it is expected that a global meeting on climate and forests in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, next month, will deliver a strong foundation for development initiatives, which can strike the balance between economic and environmental sustainability.
Attended by the governors of many Indonesian provinces and representatives from eight other countries, the Balikpapan meeting aims to provide a way to carry out development activities while at the same time, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, combating deforestation and protecting indigenous peoples.
Scheduled to be held from Sept. 25-29 by the Governors for Climate and Forests (GCF) task force, a sub-national alliance initiated by former governor of California, in the United States, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and established in 2009, the annual meeting will also unite governments, particularly local administrations, business owners, NGOs and local farmers.
This year’s GCF meeting, with its so-called Balikpapan Challenge, will address the management of the production of agricultural commodities for sustainable development, the participation of indigenous people in protecting the environment and the funding mechanisms to support the implementation of sustainable development.
The Balikpapan meeting aims to ensure that local administrations owning agriculture commodities can cooperate well with commodity buyers to maintain sustainable development in their regions while also continuing to help to reduce deforestation and gas emissions.
“We help local administrations to make regulations that can make sure that agriculture production activities, such as palm oil, will not cause deforestation and indigenous people can participate directly so these can benefit all parties,” Indonesian nonprofit research institute Earth Innovation Institute (INOBU) research and development manager John Watts told The Jakarta Post in a visit on Tuesday.
All this time, he said, indigenous people were prone to land conflicts because their existence had never been recognized. They also did not have certificates for their lands while in fact they and their families mostly had lived in the forest areas for years.
“In fact, reducing deforestation and promoting low-emission development will only work well if the rights of the indigenous people are protected,” INOBU’s environmental lawyer Bernardinus Steni told the Post.
Recently, INOBU has been focusing its activities more on working with local administrations at the regency level because they are closer to and know more about the details of commodity and environmental conditions in their respective areas.
The Balikpapan Challenge will promote fair play on how to reduce deforestation without discriminating against small and local farmers because the presence of buyers who prefer to buy products with deforestation-free certificates will have a beneficial impact on small farmers. On the other hand, it is usually difficult for the farmers to get such certificates.
The meeting is also expected to come up with practices to protect the rights of indigenous people living in all GCF member provinces and improve their welfare.
The GCF now has 35 members. They are Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain and the US. From Indonesia alone, seven provinces have become GCF members. They are Aceh, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, Papua, West Kalimantan and West Papua. These seven provinces have the largest forest coverage and account for 60 percent of the total forest area in Indonesia.
Another important point to be highlighted in the meeting is that GCF members must receive adequate funds needed to reduce deforestation, support low-emission development and protect the existence of the indigenous people who have been residing in the regions or the forests for hundreds of years.
“This is an important point because a lack of funding often hampers countries in implementing their global commitment. In Indonesia, many regions are willing to commit [to sustainable development] but then step back because they have no funding,” Steni said.
He went on to say that GCF member countries, through the Rio Branco Declaration in 2014, had committed to reduce deforestation in the world by up to 80 percent in 2020, with reducing deforestation by around 250,000 hectares each year. The target will be possible only if they can access adequate funding.
The commitment is in line with Indonesia’s ambitious commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 29 percent in 2030.
“We have already committed to reduce 29 percent of gas emissions but so far we have yet to see the mechanism of the implementation. We have no idea about the funding mechanism to support the commitment and whether the government will allocate funding to help reduce the emissions,” INOBU supervisory board member Emmy Hafild said. (Nurul Fitri Ramadhani)