Interview with Chip Fay and Steve Rhee, Climate Land Use Alliance: “It’s about land use rationalisation based on the recognition of rights of local communities”

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Interview with Chip Fay and Steve Rhee, Climate Land Use Alliance

Interview with Chip Fay and Steve Rhee, Climate Land Use Alliance, in Jakarta, December 2011.

REDD-Monitor: Please describe what the Climate Land Use Alliance (CLUA) is and give some background on the work of CLUA on REDD in general.

Chip Fay: CLUA is an alliance of four US-based philanthropic institutions: Ford Foundation, Moore Foundation, Climate Works Foundation and Packard Foundation. The intention is to develop and implement a joint strategy and co-programming. I’m an employee of the Climate Works Foundation in San Francisco and Steve’s an employee of the Ford Foundation. So it’s a joint funding strategy. The country programmes respond to what’s going on in these countries, supporting innovation while playing a catalytic role. Brazil, Indonesia, Meso-America are the priority geographies. CLUA also has a global policy initiative.

REDD-Monitor: When was CLUA founded?

Steve Rhee: Officially in 2010. That’s when CLUA officially started the clock ticking.

There was that report, “Design to Win”. That’s a background. There was a long history, formally it was 2010, but it de-facto existed in some permutation before that.

Chip Fay: “Design to Win” was an important document and REDD type approaches were highlighted. What you’ll see in this discussion is that the longer we’ve gone down this road, the less we’ve talked about REDD in the way we did in that document. So that’s a document that speaks very much to the time it was written, pre-Copenhagen.

REDD-Monitor: How many people does CLUA employ in Indonesia?

Chip Fay: None, I am based in the Philippines but travel here often.

REDD-Monitor: What are the aims of CLUA’s work in Indonesia?

Chip Fay: To assist the government to meet its internationally stated target, 41% reduction against 2005 emissions.

REDD-Monitor: And what sort of activities and organisations does CLUA fund?

Chip Fay

Chip Fay: There are four areas. The first is low carbon development planning, with a focus on spatial plans at the provincial level, Central Kalimantan, Jambi and Papua are the priority areas. The second area is increasing understanding, what we’ve called over time climate literacy. We are supporting activities that will lead to more balanced public dialogue on what low emissions development is about, what the moratorium is about, what are the problems in rural development are based upon, particularly land grabs from plantations and resulting conflicts. Many Indonesians want to see a more realistic discussion on who benefits from plantation agriculture and who suffers, both in terms of environmental and socio-economic impacts. The third area is building upon years of work at the Ford Foundation on community rights. So the focus is rights-based approaches that reduce emissions. The final area is demand-side, looking at where the take up is in terms of supply chain trade in oil palm and paper and pulp and linking it to efforts here on the ground.

The way we do this is through grant making as well as technical assistance.

Steve Rhee: Just one elaboration on the third point about the rights-based work. I think the goal is really about conflict resolution, in an equitable, sustainable manner that will facilitate the sustainable use of the landscape.

REDD-Monitor: How much money has CLUA given so far?

Steve Rhee: The Indonesia related grant-making is on the CLUA website for 2010. All the grants are listed. It’ll fluctuate year to year.

Chip Fay: It was US$3.4 million in 2010, about US$5 million in 2011, and about the same is planned for 2012.

But if the question is how much has CLUA given so far for REDD projects in Indonesia, I’d say none.

Steve Rhee: Yes.

REDD-Monitor: Because CLUA is funding issues related to REDD, but not specifically REDD?

Chip Fay: It’s all about land based emissions. It’s whatever strategies help Indonesia reduce emissions. So a lot of it is land use defined by spatial planning, creating a public awareness of rights-based approaches and then demand side work.

Steve Rhee: Meaning to say, nothing in our strategy explicitly mentions REDD.

REDD-Monitor: Can you give specific examples of how the money has been used?

Chip Fay: There’s a lot of funding that has gone towards rural development issues surrounding natural resource management by local people who have little or no rights recognized over their lands. The strategy to support free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to rationalise both land-use through spatial planning and promoting best practice among agribusiness, including employing the process of FPIC with local communities.

Examples would be from the bottom up our work with Scale Up. On the FPIC side the main co-ordinator of that work, the lead grantee for us, is the Forest Peoples Programme. They have three main partners under them, so the majority of the funds that go to FPP actually go to local partners. I think that it’s close to 60%.

On the research side we’re supporting ICRAF’s work on better understanding high carbon landscapes and then try to fit them in to spatial planning. With CIFOR it was to supply assistance to the REDD task force here, on the deliveries under the Norway agreement.

In Papua, they’ve got the low carbon development task force, a new grouping. We support that together with NGO participation into that. In Central Kalimantan, Kamitraan’s work involves convening local people around the issues of climate and projects in their area that may or may not be called REDD projects.

The Samdhana Institute has a significant grants programme they call REDD preparedness. Those words are chosen carefully. It doesn’t support or promote REDD, it just helps people deal with threats from projects and opportunities to lower emissions from their own landscapes.

On the demand side, Rainforest Action Network and Woods and Wayside on the financing of the pulp and paper industry. Aidenvironment is looking at legality and mapping oil palm expansion so on the ground resisting expansion into communities, helping communities resist expansion into the traditional territories through land tenure instruments and community organising.

Steve Rhee

Steve Rhee: I would say that the demand side work is a combination of supporting progressive market mechanisms like the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil. Forest Peoples Programme is very much engaged in RSPO. And in terms of the expansion of palm oil plantations, it’s really ensuring that policies, laws and regulations that the government of Indonesia or lenders are following. So it’s following the rules that people have agreed to. When it doesn’t happen, then making sure that there’s some attention to that. So I think that’s where a lot of the demand side work is going.

Again with the conflict resolution work and the community level work, all of that is to ensure that the people who are living in and around those areas are fully aware of whatever intervention that is coming in. Fully informed and then they can make informed decisions and then the playing field is level in terms of any kind of negotiation.

REDD-Monitor: Although CLUA doesn’t work directly with local communities, could you say a bit more about the process of free, prior and informed consent that CLUA promotes.

Chip Fay: Those grantees are looking at specific REDD demonstration projects from a rights-based approach and their partners are organising around FPIC. A lot of the Samdhana Institute work goes towards community preparedness. The hardest part in a consent process is for communities to be informed of what they are facing. In reality we often see in conflict situations that the consent effort is post or after the fact.

Steve Rhee: We’re first and foremost a grant-making entity, so I would say that’s our main line of work and then in addition to that the technical assistance Chip was talking about. And sometimes it’s not so technical, sometimes it’s a matter of convening a number of partners, because in a way we have the relative birds-eye view of who’s doing what and so at times it may make sense to bring people together whether they are grantees or not. For example, in March 2011, we had an all day workshop at the Ford Foundation in Jakarta on safeguards.

So I think with the FPIC work, that was funding Forest Peoples Programme to do that research, Patrick [Anderson of Forest Peoples Programme] wrote a book on FPIC with CLUA support. We also linked up with groups like HuMa working on safeguards – the World Bank, ADB, each institution has its own safeguards.

REDD-Monitor: Could you give a bit of your background in Indonesia?

Chip Fay: I worked regionally for Friends of the Earth and Survival International, Environmental Policy Institute, based in the Philippines. Then, I joined the Ford Foundation in 1991 and came to Indonesia. I worked for four to five years and then joined ICRAF, continuing very much the same work on land use and community rights.

On rights, it really breaks down into two. There’s conditional rights issued by the Ministry of Forestry and then there’s the rights that are recognised by government through, in this case the BPN [Badan Pertanahan Nasional – The National Land Agency], or through local legislation or eventually national legislation. We’ve worked on both, but the current opportunities existed more in the forestry instruments, community forestry, social forestry. I continued that work writing about legal frameworks the policy/science interfaces, and watershed management and local rights and land use management systems.

I began working with the Packard Foundation part time in 2007. Packard saw they could not ignore Indonesia as a leading greenhouse gas emitter. That brought me back to Indonesia. That led to CLUA, where we are today.

Steve Rhee: I’ve been working in Indonesia on and off for about 15 years, since 1996, in different capacities. I started off working for CARE here. My longest affiliation was collaborating with CIFOR when I was doing my PhD research in Indonesia, on the role of international aid and science research in the forestry sector in Indonesia.

Then I came back in late 2009 to take the Ford Foundation job. So of the 15 years, I’ve probably physically been in Indonesia for seven or eight years in different capacities, ranging from Jakarta to Kalimantan to Sulawesi to Jogja.

REDD-Monitor: A lot is happening on REDD in Indonesia. There have now been four or five years of REDD discussions. There are several pilot projects and the president has said very strongly that he’s backing REDD. Yet the rate of deforestation is still pretty high. Are you optimistic or pessimistic?

Chip Fay: I’m guardedly optimistic. We have to be clear on what we mean by REDD. I go back to its literal meaning, reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, and in Indonesia it’s really mostly deforestation and better management of peat lands. So you reduce emissions by reducing deforestation and sustainable peat land management. That’s what we’ve been trying to do for years.

This is not new. What is new was the global sense that the deal breaker was going to be a massive transfer of funds from the North to the South in order to help us do what Indonesian civil society groups and local communities have been trying to do here for 20 years. Once Indonesia’s contribution to global land based emissions became clear, many opportunities opened up here to address the fundamental causes of deforestation. We plugged into these but have avoided a project-based approach. There are many REDD demonstration projects and we are following the rights issues in certain landscapes where there are REDD activities. But what is clear is that when projects go through a process like the Voluntary Carbon Standard, everyone is still learning how much time and financing it takes and methodologies are still being developed. What’s unclear is what the financing mechanisms will eventually be. There’s a lot of uncertainty.

That’s all interesting in terms of REDD projects, but we don’t look at the world and Indonesia that way. We look at efforts to change the rural development paradigm through land use rationalisation based on the recognition of local rights. We are confident that will lead to reduced emissions. CO2 release will decline if this shift takes place.

We don’t dress it up as REDD, because it comes with too much baggage. What we work hard at, is staying on message that it’s not about projects, it’s not about financial flows from North to South only, it’s about land and forest reform based on the recognition of the collective rights of local communities.

CLUA also supports the technical understanding of landscapes, what’s actually happening in those landscapes, bringing in the most up to date technologies and examining it locally, together with local and NGO networks, community organisations to ground truth and then advocate for a more rational land use that’s based on recognition of collective rights.

I think it’s critical we begin to think much bigger than REDD in terms of what might be a project.

Steve Rhee: Just to under-score Chip’s point earlier, the evolution of the notion of REDD is important, comparing when it started to get a lot of buzz, to what people consider it now. I think because of that evolution and the baggage that’s come with it, we don’t find REDD as projects a very useful construct. Even though conceptually the literal meaning of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation is something that we support. As long as the communities that are living around those areas are fully on board, meaning that they are fully aware, cognisant of the full information and the choices they have at hand.

The other point is that our strategy also evolves. I think maybe that’s how we have a bit more flexibility that way than maybe some of the bilateral or multilateral organisations. So every six months or so, we’re in a sort of reflection, revision mode.

Chip Fay: I will say too on the optimistic/pessimistic question, Indonesia’s forests degradation and deforestation rate continues to be high and the statistics around violation of human rights are increasing. So there are a lot of reasons to despair.

What I find empowering is when I look at what I say is the reformist voices in Indonesia. You find them in the UKP4 [Unit Kerja Presiden Bidang Pengawasan dan Pengendalian Pembangunan – the Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development], in the efforts to support the president’s 41% commitment.

Indonesia’s Letter of Intent with Norway is impressive. My optimism is based on admiration of the efforts key people here are putting into it. These include people at Kemitraan and all the way through to Kuntoro Mangkusubroto’s office, UKP4.

That’s why I am encouraged and in our grant-making we encourage a sophisticated analysis of knowing where the energy for reform is in Indonesia and how to support that quietly. So that gets into our communications strategy, we’re helping to amplify those voices. And then to amplify the voices who have a public profile in order to inform those who see oil palm and pulp and paper as the only drivers of rural development and rural economies.

As long as my Indonesian colleagues and friends are optimistic, then I have no right not to be.

REDD-Monitor: What’s CLUA’s view of the US$1 billion dollar deal with Norway?

Chip Fay: Good design struggling to be implemented effectively.

REDD-Monitor: In particular, the fact that the moratorium amounts to little more business as usual?

Chip Fay: I think that the Norway deal changed the whole debate in Indonesia. It got the dialogue outside of the Ministry of Forestry. Indonesian Presidents in the past had little knowledge of how much of Indonesia’s forests had been given away as concessions. People have been working on this issue for years but in a very small box, controlled mostly by the Ministry of Forestry with little media attention. Even the land agency didn’t really understand a lot of these questions concerning their role and local rights inside the forest estate. The Letter of Intent (LoI) brought that all out of that small box. It brought in people like Pak Kuntoro and forced all of the relevant ministries to address the emissions question through the REDD+ Task Force and now the national emissions reduction action plan.

It has also brought a lot of attention in the media. So all of these issues that many Indonesians have been hammering away for years, all of a sudden received a far higher profile.

In terms of implementation, I think the situation speaks for itself, since the signing of the LoI. Actual implementation has been slow with resistance from the business as usual lobby being strong.

On the moratorium itself, I agree with critics who say it is “little more than business as usual”, but the question is how much little more? CIFOR has prepared a good analysis, that says the moratorium covers 22.5 million hectares. There is clear need to watch those 22.5 million hectares. 22.5 million hectares is almost the area of Britain.

REDD-Monitor: What’s CLUA’s position on carbon trading?

Chip Fay: CLUA doesn’t have a position although we have contributed to the debate, for example with support to the The Munden Project study. We are very committed to assisting efforts aimed at expanding an informed debate.

None of our support to efforts on the ground are dependent on achieving their objectives through the trading of carbon credits.

REDD-Monitor: How does CLUA think that REDD should be funded?

Chip Fay: CLUA as a community doesn’t have an answer to that one, but I think it’s safe to say that CLUA believes that there should be an international responsibility to assist Indonesia to meet its objectives. Our immediate world is US philanthropy.

When we examine Indonesia, and we look what needs to happen, we can see that there are sources of funding here in Indonesia, such as the Dana Reboisasi (Reforestation Fund) and the Gerhan programme (the National Forest and Land Rehabilitation Programme), big forestry programmes that could be realigned in order to support just this type of work.

So a lot of what we are assisting, once it gets traction and political momentum it could be funded through the Indonesian budget. I don’t see it needing the billions in transfers for there to be significant emissions reductions.

REDD-Monitor: A couple of years ago Jeffrey Hatcher of Rights and Resources Initiative wrote a report titled “Securing Tenure Rights and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)“. In the report, he argues that the costs of REDD would be way cheaper if we supported indigenous rights and lend tenure.

Chip Fay: Clearly true in Indonesia.

There’s also a need for a good bit of technical work to be done. We support Sekala to do capacity building and information management to help set up information systems at the provincial level. This is an important part of the recognition process.

Companies often have overlapping rights, who those companies are, where those polygons on the map are and how do you sort out the legitimate from the less legitimate. Sekala and local government are still at the point of trying to get all that information on the table at the provincial level.

REDD-Monitor: What’s your opinion of the REDD discussions at the UNFCCC? What’s your opinion of the Cancún Agreement and how do you view what’s happening in Durban?

Chip Fay: Clearly the only part of the international process that gained any sort of momentum are the discussions around REDD and REDD safeguards. That is mostly due to Tony La Viña, leading that process. He’s a masterful facilitator. The safeguards that came out of Cancún are an excellent start,This is what Peter Riggs [Ford Foundation] and Steve have been working on here with a community to better understand opportunities that came out of Cancún and at least be aware of them.

Steve Rhee: Clearly there’s a bit less enthusiasm across the board, I guess. But as CLUA, we still stay engaged, we still have at least one or two senior level people from CLUA in Durban. But the general trend of less enthusiasm and expectations.

REDD-Monitor: In May 2011, after years of discussions about illegal logging, Indonesia signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU. Do you think there are relevant lessons for REDD from the way the illegal logging debate has unfolded?

Chip Fay: It’s an important question. The VPA depends on a narrow definition of legality. The weakness of that process is that they only looked at the forestry law and regulations.

Steve Rhee: I would say that there are a couple of lessons there. One is that things like the VPA show that issues involving a significant contributor to GDP and the governance situation that we have, it’s going to take a long time. That’s one thing. Secondly, there’s clearly an international dimension to that. People in the US love buying stuff in Walmart because it’s so cheap, so there’s got to be changes through the whole supply chain. There has to be changes of governance, essentially. Not just here in Indonesia, but throughout the whole chain. If it’s being manufactured in China, there as well. I think when the Lacey Act first came out, there was such a reverberation because it really does potentially affect the whole supply chain not just the source country. And the people who are on the hook for it are the importers, so they have a lot more at stake looking into these issues.

I think those general dynamics, institutional, political and economic dynamics, are at play with the reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation initiative. I think there’s a lot to be learned from the VPA experience. And there’s still a lot to do. I mean it’s been signed, but we still need a couple of more years to see how the implementation goes.


This interview is the third in a series of interviews with key REDD actors in Indonesia. REDD-Monitor gratefully acknowledges funding from ICCO for this project.

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One Comment

  1. Aw damn it, I was hoping you would tell them about Greenpeace’s discovery of Asian Pulp using up the tiger’s habitat?

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