Source: The Jakarta Post – November 23, 2011
By Tifa Asrianti
The government has to adjust the acceleration and expansion of Indonesia’s economic development (MP3EI) program to reduce environmental risks in the country’s growth centers.
The economic development program includes six corridors of economic development across Indonesia, for which up to Rp 4.012 trillion has been earmarked until 2014. The government expects the program to create 9.6 millions new job between 2012 and 2014.
Raldi Hendro Koestoer, expert staff for innovation, technology and environment at the Office of Coordinating Economic Minister, said that the implementation of the program should pay close attention to the region’s environment characteristics to avoid environmental degradation.
He cited that Kalimantan, which was projected to be the center of production and processing for the mining industry and energy in the MP3EI program, actually had 20 main water catchment areas, 14 of which were located in the heart of Borneo.
“We should prioritize the development of the concept of green economy, pro growth, pro poor, pro jobs. If the government fails to apply a green economy, it is not impossible that they will face problems like social conflicts and encroachments in the future,” he said.
Green economy is a concept that involves low-carbon emissions, resource efficiency and social inclusion.
The concept would support the government’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26 percent without international aid, or by 41 percent with international aid by 2020.
Arief Anshory Yusuf, director of the Center for Economics and Development Studies at Padjadjaran University, said that applying green economy concepts would not necessarily mean that the economy and welfare would see slow growth.
“The government can involve people in reforestation and allow the public to benefit from the forests they grow. It is important to involve the people because the people will be impacted by environmental degradation,” he said.
Nor, Arief said, should the government cease all mining activities, because mining opened job opportunities.
“Mining activities can continue with the condition that the mining companies understand that they should provide compensation for locals if they carry out massive mining activities,” he said.
Raldi shared a similar opinion, saying that the mining companies should conduct their activities in phases, which would allow the companies rehabilitate former mining areas.
“In this way, when they complete the mining activity, the first area they mined would be turned back into forest. The companies can refer to a Forestry Ministry regulation to learn about this,” he said.
He said that there should be a complete study and data gathering before the government carried out a development project. While the government could still support mining under the development plan, Raldi said that they should put other things first, such as infrastructure.
He said that even if infrastructure were prioritized, the local administrations should choose projects that did not require large swaths of land, as to do so would minimize water catchment areas, leading to flooding and land slides, among other problems.
He suggested prioritizing railway over highways because the former used smaller amounts of land.
“Now the question is whether the local administrations shares the same level of understanding of green economy.
“The government through the National Planning Development Board should communicate with local administrations to discuss the importance of green economy,” he said.