Among the last remaining jungle-clad regions in Indonesia, the two easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua are looking to Green Growth to assure the preservation of most of its forest coverage while also generating economic gains to improve the livelihood of its population.
“The provincial governments have made their Green Growth ambitions very clear in their current planning processes,” Marcel Silvius, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Country Representative Indonesia said, referring to Papua and West Papua.
In a written interview with The Palm Scribe, Silvius, added that a Green Growth Roadmap was even being developed in West Papua. The roadmap is being prepared with the support of The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF and is based on the National Green Growth Roadmap that has been developed by the National Development Planning Agency Bappenas with the support of GGGI.
Green growth is generally defined as a mean to foster economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services necessary for the well-being of local communities.
“Green growth is beneficial within the short, medium and long-term, and the sooner development plans and investments adopt a green growth approach the easier, cost-efficient and effective green growth development will be,” Silvius said.
He pointed out that West Papua’s declaration as aiming for becoming a Conservation Province showed in which direction local ambitions go with regard to forest management.
However, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Indonesian Global head of forest campaign Kiki Taufik pointed out in a separate written interview with the Palm Scribe that although West Papua had indeed declared its aims to obtain a Conservation Province status, their spatial zoning plan needed to revise their targets.
“The Spatial Pattern for West Papua Province allots 34 percent as protected areas and 66 percent for other uses, These figures are in contradiction to the aims of the West Papua provincial government which is pushing for the establishment of West Papua province as a Conservation Province or a Sustainable Province,” Taufik said, adding that a revision of the targets, to 70 percent for protected areas and 30 percent for other uses, is being pushed.
More reflective of the Green Growth determination was Papua province, Taufik said, adding that it had a “very ideal” regional development plan that maintained 65 percent of its total zoning area as protected, in the form of nature reserves, conservation areas, national parks as well as wildlife reserves, and the remaining 35 percent were for other purposes .
Silvius said that for West Papua to succeed in getting the Conservation Province status, it would be essential to get a grip on uncontrolled logging, which does not provide any benefits to the local and national economy. He said that the daily needs of local communities were not necessarily the key drivers of natural resource degradation.
Silvius said that the high percentage of remaining forest areas in Papua and West Papua testified to the more sustainable management of natural resource base by local communities in those regions.
Official data from West Papua province administration puts its forest coverage at 9.73 million hectares. Official data from Papua province claimed there were some 28.62 million hectares of forests left there, 16.034 million of which in the form of primary forests.
“The government’s ambition to use an indigenous people approach in its development efforts recognizes the need for local communities to play a key role in planning and decision making,” Silvius added.
For green growth and especially Indonesia’s ambition for a low carbon economy and achievement of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets, it will be essential to rapidly reduce the rate of deforestation and forest degradation in Papua, and achieve sustainable forest management. Although he did not mention any particular crop behind the deforestation, the expansion of palm oil plantation into Papua and West Papua has been blamed by many as being among the principal causes of deforestation there.
Instead, Silvius pointed out to the significant inequality in development status in Papua and West Papua compared to the rest of Indonesia. He said it has become clear and this was also recognized in the current government policies, that more needed to be done to provide equal development opportunities for the local people in those two regions.
“This will require continuation of current development efforts by the national government and the development of innovative community-based initiatives, based on local capacity, interests, and needs. The local populations of Papua and West Papua need to play a central role in the development of policies and plans for their region, as part also of the national development ambitions of the Indonesian government,” Silvius said, citing the examples of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and NDCs.
Green growth recognizes that the environment provides the basis for the economy, and the challenge lays in assuring a balance in sustainable management, including exploitation, of the natural resource base, aiming at a no net loss of the ecosystems services that support local livelihoods.
Silvius said that maintaining a large percentage of the remaining forests may be feasible if the economic development focuses on sectors that require or are compatible with such a high percentage of forest cover.
“Tourism can be such a sector, that can provide a high economic return without a trade-off with forest conservation. Sustainable forest management, including harvesting of timber and non-timber forest products, can similarly enable increased revenues from the forest without losing forest areas. It may actually incentivize conservation,” he said.
The government’s drive to accelerate the development of infrastructure in the regions, including in Papua and West Papua, was according to him essential for enhancing access to markets, and thus enable local people to gain improved options for engaging with local, domestic and international markets.
“It can be considered an essential element in providing equal access to development opportunities, education, health facilities, and other services. It will similarly be of benefit for local, national and international companies with enterprises in the region, and which provide employment options for the populations of Papua and West Papua,” Silvius said.
Essential infrastructure was also among the economic development required to balance the needs of a Green Growth and those for sustainable development and poverty reduction.
Taufik had warned that the development of infrastructure in Papua and West Papua could also provide the means for a more extensive exploitation of the region and spawn new opportunities for corruption.
Among innovative development approaches that would retain Papua’s forest resources, support livelihood improvement while still providing a business-friendly environment, Silvius cited those based on integrated village development concepts, taking local capacity, needs and opportunities as the basis for investment. He said they can include community-based developments of products such as coffee, Sweet Potato, Cacao, fish, timber, sago, as well as involve the development of access to renewable energy, clean water, health facilities, and education and the development of tourism industry.
GGGI is a treaty-based international, inter-governmental organization dedicated to supporting and promoting strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies.