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Norway gives Indonesia US$1 billion to help reduce deforestation

Norway and Indonesia agreed to enter into a partnership to support Indonesia’s efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests and peat lands, the governments announced in Oslo yesterday.

“Indonesia will take immediate and decisive action to reduce its forest and peat related greenhouse gas emissions. Norway will support those efforts with U.S.$1 billion over the next few years,” the Norwegian Government says in a statement.

The announcement was made at a joint press conference held by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg. It coincides with the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference, where a global climate and forest partnership is to be established.

Indonesia has the largest emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests and tropical peat land, according to the governments. Forests are disappearing at a rate of more than a million hectares (nearly 4,000 square miles) per year.

“Indonesia has the third largest forest area in the world and half of the world’s tropical peatlands. With 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a mega biodiversity country–one of the five most species diverse countries in the world.

“Because of the multiple threats to its forests and their associated biodiversity, Indonesia has been identified, by all recent international priority-setting exercises, as a global priority for actions to conserve biodiversity,” the governments said in their statement.

“Indonesia is a key country in terms of reducing deforestation, therefore this agreement and Indonesias commitment is a great step forward in achieving large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” Stoltenberg said. “I look forward to cooperating with President Yudhoyono and Indonesia on this important issue.”

Norway-and-Indonesia-leaders-photo.jpg

President Susilo Yudhoyono (left) and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at the press conference yesterday.

Photo courtesy of the Prime Minister’s Office

Funds will initially be devoted to finalizing Indonesia’s climate and forest strategy, building and institutionalizing capacity to monitor, report and verify reduced emissions, and puting in place enabling policies and institutional reforms, according to the official release.

“A two-year suspension on new concessions on conversion of natural forests and peat lands into plantations will be implemented. By 2014, the plan is to move to an Indonesian-wide instrument of funding contributions in return for verified emission reductions. Funds will be managed by an internationally reputable financial institution according to international fiduciary, governance, environmental and social standards.”

“Indonesia stands by its commitment to reduce our emissions by 26 per cent relative to business as usual levels by 2020. This we will do out of our own funds through a set of measures I will be announcing in the near future,” Yudhoyono said “With the help of international partners, we could reduce our emissions by as much as 41 per cent.”

“President Yudhoyono’s global leadership on climate change is admirable. Indonesia now wants to drastically reduce its forest and peat emissions in a transparent and verifiable manner. We are very pleased to be able to support those efforts”, Stoltenberg said.

In a declaration of support for the partnership, Abdon Nababan, secretary general of AMAN, the nation-wide indigenous peoples alliance in Indonesia, said: “Indigenous peoples of Indonesia support this Partnership, and will contribute to the planning and implementation of the measures, provided we can continue to exercise our rights and traditional knowledge to have sustainable livelihood from forest ecosystems.”

“To succeed in the global battle against climate change, we need robust, action-oriented partnerships between developing and developed countries. President Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Prime Minister Stoltenberg of Norway are both global leaders on climate change. That they have now come together in an ambitious partnership to reduce emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and peatland destruction in Indonesia is good news for the world. I encourage others to join their efforts, and to create their own partnerships to help put the world on the path to sustainable, climate-resilient growth,” added secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations.

The announcement came as more than 30 governments meet to discuss a first-time partnership at the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference to advance REDD+ activities this year, WWF, the global conservation advocacy group said in a statement.

(Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation–REDD–is an effort coordinated by the United Nations to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Read more about this on Stuart Pimm’s blog post: Better REDD than dead when it comes to climate change.)

The partnership between Norway and Indonesia “is a key step in developing a workable framework for reducing emissions from deforestation in Indonesia,” said Fitrian Ardiansyah, Climate and Energy Program Director of WWF-Indonesia, “The Indonesian President’s announcement to put a break in releasing new permits to convert peat land also provides new opportunities for further reduction of emissions and this will move the partnership of the two countries closer to achieving the goal.”

“Indonesia’s agreement with Norway to big reductions in deforestation is a groundbreaking achievement in the work to combat climate change,”said Rasmus Hansson, CEO of WWF-Norway,”This commitment to halting destructive forest and land use by one of the world’s key forest countries promises to directly limit global CO2 emissions.”

For real climate benefits to be realized, this agreement needs to be followed up by implementing specific work plans in developing countries, including in Indonesia, that formalize REDD+ implementation and ensure that these activities contain the proper governance for REDD+ and safeguards for indigenous peoples and biodiversity, according to WWF.

“This agreement  sets an inspiring example of responsible climate cooperation between developing and industrialised nations,” said Hansson, “To WWF, it is of particular importance that the partners recognize that forest conservation is about much more than CO2 emissions. Safeguarding ecosystems, biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ livelihoods is an absolute prerequisite for making this work–and obviously a crucial benefit in itself.”