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Indonesia adopts advice on ecosystem services from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Indonesia’s newly formed Ministry of Environment and Forestry has adopted recommendations from studies conducted by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and the RUPES project

Source: Agroforestry World Blog

As one of its first initiatives, in January 2015 the new Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) began public discussions on the draft government regulation on Economic Instruments for Environmental Protection and Management, which draws on lessons learned from study sties of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the RUPES project in its two phases.

Specifically, three of four case studies presented in the national guideline that is the supporting document of the draft regulation originated from the FTA learning network sites of Kuningan-Cirebon (regarding transactions between local governments for provision of ecosystem services) and Sumberjaya and Cidanau (for schemes involving transactions between private-sector entities).

The research team from FTA, led by Dr Beria Leimona of the World Agroforestry Centre, met with the government officials preparing the guideline to share principles on how to implement the various types of ecosystem services’ schemes. During these meetings, the national guideline team agreed with the FTA team that contracts with communities or other providers of ecosystem services should be based on a ‘stratification of conditionality’, that is, be based on performance by the communities in ensuring the supply of ecosystem services, such as clean and plentiful water supply brought about, for example, by protecting forests and practising conservation farming. The alternative would be to base payments or rewards to communities on strict measurement of the services provided, which would be a more complex and daunting challenge and might not take into consideration the efforts made by the communities nor unexpected conditions beyond their control that might affect their performance, such as extreme rainfall or floods. By adopting ‘conditionality’ as a basic principle, the MoEF clearly considers that provision of ecosystem services is a joint or co-investment by stakeholders in a landscape and an evolving process rather than a finality, which is also in accordance with the FTA’s argument of the dynamic nature of multifunctional landscapes.

Second, ‘pro-poor’ or anti-poverty measures are highlighted in the guideline. Since its beginning a decade ago, RUPES has actively promoted this aspect, arguing that payments should be more than only financial but include other livelihoods’ elements that might be preferred by the communities that provide ecosystem services. These non-financial rewards could include tenure, access rights to land or assistance reaching commodity markets. Furthermore, the RUPES’ researchers emphasized that ‘pro-poor’ meant involving communities in all phases of any scheme to provide rewards for ecosystem services, starting from design right through to monitoring.

Third, since research into ecosystem services — including carbon sequestration, watershed functions and biodiversity conservation — is still at an early stage in Indonesia, FTA has contributed to introducing the very concept of ecosystem services and how to measure them. Primarily, this has been done through deploying a ‘negotiation-support toolkit’ that allows rapid appraisals to be conducted of landscapes, hydrology, agrobiodiversity and carbon stocks and provides methods for participatory measurement with local communities, such as water monitoring.

The FTA team at the World Agroforestry Centre have also been contributing to uncertainty analyses as the basis for determining an appropriate scale for monitoring ecosystem services. A case study of monitoring carbon emissions has been published and research will continue because the application of economic instruments to meet environmental and livelihoods’ goals is mostly dependent on negotiations between levels of government and a range of other interests, that is, is nested and scale-dependent, temporally and spatially.

The MoEF has recognized this complexity and requirement for innovation as a challenge for the new regulation, which has been a contributing factor in the delay in its drafting. The regulation is introducing a broad array of instruments ranging from 1) economic planning and development among government bodies at national and regional levels; 2) environmental recovery funds; and 3) incentive and disincentive mechanisms. All of these involve a lot of people and authorities and require new ways of thinking. As a consequence, the drafting has needed substantial support from multidisciplinary researchers and multisectoral public officers.

However, some sections of national and sub-national governments still lack capacity to understand and interpret each element of the regulation and apply it to their situation. Some aspects, for example, an environmental tax and Green Gross Domestic Product accounting, must link to many other sections of government, such as Internal Affairs, Finance and the Bureau of Statistics. Successful application will only happen if the MoEF is able to coordinate closely with these other sections.

Above all, political willingness is the key to implementing the regulation. This itself poses challenges. For example, a ‘green’ accounting system that calculates the depletion of all environmental services owing to the production processes of goods and services might result in reduction of a region’s total GDP. This might deliver a ‘bad report card’ for the district or province because they are not meeting their economic growth target.

Nevertheless, despite all such challenges the MoEF decided to prioritize the finalization of the draft regulation with support from academe, NGOs and researchers from FTA, RUPES and the World Agroforestry Centre. We now look forward to the next stage of implementation and will continue to provide research results and other assistance as needed.

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