Indonesia Leads International Drive to Promote REDD+

Source : Eco News- December 16, 2011
By Hayden Clarke

Indonesia’s plan is to inject around US$1 billion-worth of funding from Norway under the REDD+ agreement.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) emphasised that these official deals were a peripheral goal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban last week.

Kalimantan’s forests have been subjected to chronic deforestation for harvesting of coffee and palm oil and the United Nations (UN) in partnership with the National REDD+ Task Force has researched the damage caused.

Supported by UNEP and other stakeholders, the research points out that land misuse comes at a cost to other productive sectors such as mining, fisheries and the livelihoods of local people as well as challenging Indonesia’s biodiversity including the iconic orang-utan.

Deforestation in the upper areas of Kalimantan’s river systems are susceptible to slower currents, with levels running low during warmer months. This makes barges, carrying mining ores, difficult to operate.

The Indonesian government and partners estimate ore-freighting by road is six times more expensive, compared to using barges. Their calculations do not include environmental impact, like logistical issues including road maintenance and vehicle expenses.

As part of its REDD+ Program, the Indonesian government is resisting any reason to clear virgin forest by choosing degraded lands to plant palm oil and other crops.

Many developed-country governments have embraced the ambition of developing-countries to join the private sector on endorsing such environmental protection measures.

These are to reduce emissions effecting forests and still allow for a comfortable transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green economy.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, explains that, “REDD+ explicitly addresses the need for a balance between income growth, jobs and social equity.

“Mobilising more partnerships such as that between Norway and Indonesia, or private sector funding is vital if the full potential of forests to contribute to a Green Economy is to be realised.”

A WWF initiative, the Heart of Borneo strategy, aims to create a network of protected forest areas, in an effort to protect biodiversity.

“With just over six months until the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil, countries ranging from Indonesia to Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are recognising that REDD+ investments can offer myriad opportunities to boost green development in the 21st Century, through optimising and enhancing ecosystem services, tackling climate change, improving water security or promoting green jobs.”

Dr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, is the Head of the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight and the Chair of the National REDD+ Task Force of the Republic of Indonesia. He believes, “A green economy transition is worth pursuing not only because it is the best way forward, but also for what it does to bring millions of people out of poverty while conserving their ecosystems, improving their lives and enhancing their livelihood opportunities”, said.

Norway’s Environment and International Development minister, Mr. Erik Solheim, argues that, “Efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation can only succeed as part of broader, green growth strategies that offer economic growth and low emission solutions for energy, agriculture and forests. Indonesia is very well positioned for success in this regard and I am pleased that Central Kalimantan is committed to demonstrate how this can be done.”

Overall the REDD+ funding, backed by smart public policies and both direct foreign investment and private sector funding, should assist Indonesia in its stated aims of realising seven per cent GDP growth a year by 2014; reducing unemployment to between five and six per cent and achieving a 26 to 41 per cent reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020.

UNEP and other UN agencies have been requested to advise on a number of areas for intervention in Kalimantan, which would help realise multiple benefits from REDD+ for these stated goals.

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