On 2 September 2013, Indonesia established its REDD+ Agency as part of the US$1 billion REDD deal with Norway. Just over one year later, Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, has proposed reducing the role of the REDD+ Agency to an advisory board within her ministry.
First, a little background. In May 2010, Indonesia and Norway signed a Letter of Intent on “Cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation”.
The Letter of Intent states that the REDD programme was to be carried out in three phases and that, “The aim is to move through the first two phases in the scope of 3-4 years.”
The third phase will involve Norway paying Indonesia on the basis of the reduced deforestation actually achieved and is to follow on from the first two phases. The third phase is yet to start. In fact, since Indonesia implemented a moratorium on new forest concessions in 2011 – also part of the Letter of Intent – the rate of deforestation in Indonesia doubled.
Establishing a REDD+ Agency was included in the Letter of Intent as the second item on the list of things to do during the first phase:
Establish a special agency reporting directly to the President to coordinate the efforts pertaining to the development and implementation of REDD+.
REDD+ Agency delayed
After the Letter of Intent was signed, a REDD+ Task Force was created in UKP4 (the Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development). One of its tasks was to design the REDD+ Agency.
In July 2012, REDD-Monitor interviewed Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the REDD+ Task Force, and Heru Prasetyo (now head of the REDD+ Agency). Heru told me that the Task Force completed its report for the creation of the REDD+ Agency in July 2012.
The 14 month-long delay in setting up the REDD+ Agency was largely a result of squabbling between the various ministries that wanted to maintain control over Indonesia’s forests. The Ministry of Forestry was the least co-operative ministry. After the Agency was created, Hadi Daryanto, general secretary at the Forestry Ministry, told the Jakarta Post that the Ministry of Forestry didn’t sign the agreement until all the other ministries had signed off on it.
Daryanto also said that the power of the REDD+ Agency would be limited:
“The REDD+ council will not be able to take any actions. The council only has the power to report on emissions reduction projects and any program irregularities to the related ministries. It is then up to the appropriate ministry take action.”
Nevertheless, the REDD+ Agency had been created. It reported to the President and its role included helping the President coordinate REDD activities in Indonesia.
New President, new ministries
In 2014, Indonesia elected a new President: Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Jokowi was inaugurated in October 2014. One of his first proposals was to merge the Forestry Ministry and the Environment Ministry. Within a week of Jokowi’s inauguration, Siti Nurbaya was named as Indonesia’s Minister for Environment and Forestry.
The opportunities and challenges created by the merger of these two ministries are summed up well by Daniel Murdiyarso of CIFOR, here.
It’s still too soon to say whether merging the ministries will be beneficial for Indonesia’s people and forests. But just over a week ago, the Jakarta Post reported that Siti was planning to absorb the REDD+ Agency into the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. The REDD+ Agency would become part of a climate change mitigation directorate general that Siti plans to create as part of the restructuring of the Ministry.
Siti told the Jakarta Post that the REDD+ Agency would become an advisory board to the proposed climate change mitigation directorate general. “The agency’s authorities overlap with those of the ministry,” she said.
REDD+ Agency would no longer report directly to the President
Heru Prasetyo, the head of the REDD+ Agency, left no doubt that he considers Siti’s proposal is a restriction on the role of the Agency, when he told the Jakarta Post that,
“Under the current arrangement, BP REDD+ is the only institution that has the knowledge [to address climate change] and its role should not be restricted.”
In a presentation last week, Heru said that the REDD+ Agency would continue its work, despite the uncertain future:
“We will continue to work in 2015 and we want paradigm shift. It is not that the agency needs to continue forever, but the paradigm shift needs to be there. One day, this movement [to reduce carbon emissions] might be transformed into a permanent ministry.”
Under Siti’s proposal, the REDD+ Agency would no longer report directly to the President. Instead of coordinating REDD it would become an advisory board. This would be a serious weakening of the role of the REDD+ Agency and would be in breach of the agreement that Indonesia signed with Norway in the 2010 Letter of Intent.