This article was first published in The Forest Scribe, a sister website.
Environmental group Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan is calling for dropping discussions on the draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation saying that it carried the risk of hindering if not scuttling the attainment of Indonesia’s climate commitment, including because of the many arrangements that would only drive deforestation.
“The Draft Law on Job Creation can hinder and scuttle Indonesia’s climate commitment,” M. Arief Virgy, Madani’s Insight Analyst, said adding that “We recommend a halt of discussion on the Draft Law on Job Creation which is packed with articles that drives deforestation.”
Speaking at an online discussion titled “The Draft Law on Job Creation and its Risks for Indonesia’s Forest and Climate,” on April 15, 2020, Virgy said that a study by Madani showed that there were five key findings that pointed to the why the draft law on Job Creation would not have good impact on the environment, including Indonesia’s forests.
Virgy said that the draft law contained many articles that weakened the protection and conservation of natural forest and the environment in general and that if the draft law was passed, it would carry the risks of the accelerating the disappearance of Indonesia’s natural forests.
The first finding was that there were five provinces – Riau, South Sumatra, Jambi, Bangka and Belitung and Central Java – that risked to lose all its natural forests between 2032 and 2056.
The second finding was that there were seven provinces – Central and West Kalimantan, Aceh, West Sumatra, Jambi, South Kalimantan and West Nusa Tenggara – could see their natural forests that are not included in the Indicative Map for Postponing the Issuance of New License (PIPPIB) or also known as the 2019 version of the Moratorium Indicative Map which contains forests that are protected under the moratorium.
Virgy said that the arrangements in the draft law that could drive deforestation could lead to Indonesia not being able to meet its commitment to limit deforestation to 3.25 million hectares by 2030 to be able to meet its climate commitment. The ceiling would already be exceeded by 2025 if deforestation continued because of the draft law, he said.
The fourth finding was that the opportunity would be lost to save the 3.4 million hectares of natural forest which were unfortunately within concessions given to oil palm plantations.
Besides that, the government target of raising domestic consumption of biodiesel to reach 17.4 million kiloliters by 2024 was also a factor that may accelerate the deforestation further. Virgy said that if there were no efforts to boost oil palm productivity, there may be a need to expand plantations by 2.27 million hectares to 7.3 million hectares to meet the demand for supply.
The fifth finding, according to him was that the natural forest cover in 45 of the largest water catchment basins in West Papua could by 2058 be shrinking by up to 20 percent if efforts were not made to protect forests that are beyond the Social Forestry Areas Indicative Map (PIAPS) or the PIPPIB, he said.
Arief also reminded decision makers of the fact that the Madani study had found that eight provinces now had forests covering less than 30 percent of their territory while 156 provinces had natural forests of less than 30 percent of their areas.
“The Draft Law on Job Creation carries the risks of weakening forest and environment protection regulations which at present are even not yet enough and are often violated, and weakening regulations protecting the environment in the name of boosting investment is a blunder for economic growth and also raise the risks of disasters,” he added,
Teguh Surya, Madani’s Executive Director said at the same occasion that the drat omnibus law on job creation was not relevant considering the complexity of the economic or social conditions and held no urgency.
“Reforming management in the sector of natural resources through the creation of the Law on the Principles of Natural Resource and Environment Management and the strengthening of the KPK (the Anti-Corruption Commission) should be the priorities of the government and the legislative to boost the national economy, considering that our economic model is still dependent on the extraction of natural resources and is poor in innovation,” Surya said.
He added that various studies and researches, both domestic or international, have already shown that Indonesia still ranked third as the most popular investment destination in Asia.
“This is the root of the problem that should have been addressed first. The concrete action that can be taken by the government together with the representatives of the people is at the very least to follow up the results of studies on the harmonization of regulations to reform management of the sector of natural resources which had been prepared by the KPK in 2018,” Surya said, adding that the result of the studies could then be formulated into an Omnibus Law on the Management of Natural Resources.
“Its urgency is higher than for the Draft Law on Job Creation because the latter has overlaps with 26 other laws,” he said.
Toto Dwi Diantoro, from the Environmental Law Department of the Law Faculty of the Gadjah Mada University told the same discussion that even though the 174-article draft law on job creation was aimed at simplifying 79 laws or more than 1,200 articles, the draft itself “was specifically difficult to analyze.”
“This draft law ignores issues of sustainability, the future of forests,” Diantoro said after studying the draft law. He also added that the draft was not only insensitive to social justice, did not provide space for checks and balance, including by the People’s Representative Council, but also contained the nuance of a reduction in law enforcement.
Raynaldo G. Sembiring, Executive Director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) said that after studying the draft law that “rather than making things simpler it is making them more complicated.”
Speaking at the same discussion, he said that there were many weaknesses in the draft law on job creations, including the minimal legal references, a tendency to go for the wrong diagnosis and responses that were not pertinent to what was being debated or being proposed as a solution. He said that the draft also covered a number of laws that were completely or widely different in principles and relevance.
The government is proposing the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation to boost investment into the country through the streamlining of laws and regulations and eliminating the overlaps between them.
Many, especially civil societies, have criticized the draft law as being too much in favor of investments while ignoring the interest of the people and the environment.