As Indonesia slows deforestation, it seeks more international funding for forest conservation programs that reduce carbon emissions
- Deforestation deal replaces similar one scrapped last year
- Indonesian environmental fund slow to attract donors so far
- Norway’s new five-year deal could attract other donors
By Michael Taylor
KUALA LUMPUR, September 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A new funding pact between Indonesia and Norway to cut carbon emissions by protecting and restoring rainforest is set to kickstart similar agreements between the Southeast Asian countries and wealthy nations, said environmental groups, which broadly support the partnership.
Indonesia abruptly ended its previous agreement with Norway a year ago, over apparent disagreements and slow progress in releasing results-based payments for work to curb forest loss.
The new five-year collaboration, outlined in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by ministers in Jakarta last week, will provide annual payments consistent with evidence showing that emissions from deforestation have been avoided or reduced through efforts conservation.
The money – totaling around $1 billion – will go into an environmental fund run by Indonesia.
“Strong communication, data sharing and transparency will be key to making (the partnership) a success,” said Aditya Bayunanda, acting chief executive of green group WWF Indonesia.
“It also helps pave the way for funding from donors in other countries to help support the restoration and conservation of Indonesia’s forests,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Worldwide, rainforest losses amounted to 3.75 million hectares (9.3 million acres) last year, a rate equal to 10 football pitches per minute, according to the monitoring service. by Global Forest Watch (GFW) satellite.
Indonesia has the world’s third-largest rainforests, but is also its top producer of palm oil and a major source of timber, which many environmentalists blame for clearing forests for plantations.
Toerris Jaeger, secretary general of the Oslo-based Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN), said the Indonesian environment fund will fund innovative programs to empower indigenous peoples and communities to lead efforts to protect and forest management.
But the new money, which will come from Norway’s development aid budget, should be seen as “seed funding”, he added.
“The billion dollars that Norway has committed to this process in Indonesia is just seed money to leverage larger bilateral and multilateral funds,” Jaeger said.
“Private sector funds are also becoming increasingly relevant to reversing deforestation,” he added.
Indonesia was ranked the fourth country in terms of deforestation in 2021 by GFW – but losses declined for the fifth consecutive year after Jakarta introduced a series of policies to protect and restore forests, peatlands and mangroves.
As part of the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle global warming, Indonesia – the world’s eighth biggest carbon polluter – pledged to cut its emissions by 29% by 2030 compared to usual levels, and aims to reach net zero by 2060 or sooner. .
It was also among some 140 countries that agreed to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow late last year. .
Mario Boccucci, head of the UN-REDD Program for Forest Conservation, said Indonesia had reduced deforestation rates to their lowest level in 20 years and had developed an ambitious plan to make its forestry and land use sector land will become a net sink of carbon dioxide by 2030.
“There is growing momentum for large-scale action and financing,” he said, referring to the COP26 declaration on forests and related commitments. “We need more partnerships like this to scale up actions to keep the Paris Agreement within reach.”
Indonesian Environmental Fund – launched in late 2019 – got off to a slow start, with local media reporting that no funds had been received or disbursed for green projects as of early 2021.
However, the US-based Ford Foundation provided $1 million in grants to the fund in March this year, according to local news site Bisnis.com.
RFN’s Jaeger said additional support had been received from the Green Climate Fund and the World Bank.
Interest from more donors in joining or replicating the Indonesia-Norway agreement was “promising”, said UN-REDD’s Boccucci.
But Marcus Colchester, senior policy adviser at the UK-based Forest Peoples Programme, warned that the wording of the new deal with Norway on rewarding efforts to slow deforestation was unclear on the rights of people. Indigenous Peoples.
There is a risk that the Indonesian government will curb deforestation to some extent but continue to allow some commodity-based logging in the name of “progress”, while freezing much-needed reforms to secure indigenous peoples’ rights, he added.
Iqbal Damanik, a forest activist with Greenpeace Indonesia, said the vagueness of the new agreement’s language was concerning, as he called on Indonesia to “reduce” rather than “stop deforestation”.
“What is very unfortunate is that this agreement does not seek to address major forest issues in Indonesia such as land disputes, deforestation and biodiversity loss,” he added.
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(Reporting by Michael Taylor @MickSTaylor; Editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world struggling to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news .trust.org)
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