The Palm Scribe

West Papua Challenges in Becoming Conservation Province

West Papua is again committed to making 70% of its area a conservation area. This was expressed by West Papua Governor Dominggus Madacan at the International Conference on Biodiversity, Ecotourism and Creative Economy (ICBE) 2018.

The regional government is currently finalizing the Special Provincial Legislation draft (Raperdasus) for Sustainable Development in West Papua. This regulation will be the legal basis for the regional government to review the West Papua Spatial and Regional Plan.

So far, after three years committed to conservation, West Papua has not yet had legal instruments that specifically regulate sustainable development. At the moment, the discussion of the Raperdasus is still being held in the West Papua Regional Representative Council.

West Papua Province Secretary Nathanael Mandacan targets the Raperdasus to be ratified before the end of 2018 so that the socialization process can begin immediately. “We hope that we can socialize this in 2019 and 2020. It has started with the film screening,” Nathanael said during the 2018 ICBE event, on Tuesday (9/10) afternoon.

ANJ’s Head of Corporate Communication Nunik Maharani and West Papua’s Governor Dominggus Mandacan in ICBE 2018

Provincial Conservation Challenges

The commitment to make West Papua as a conservation province is not easy because the regional development must also run at the same time.

We cannot turn a blind eye that the development of various sectors in West Papua is still relatively slow compared to the development in other provinces in Indonesia, for instance, the human resources development. The 2017 Human Development Index (HDI) released by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) placed West Papua at the second lowest of all provinces in Indonesia.

West Papua’s HDI is 62.99, far below the Indonesian HDI average of 70.81. Educational, health, and living standards deserve to be a constituent component of the HDI.

In addition, the economic growth figures issued by BPS in the third quarter of 2017 also put West Papua at the 5th lowest in Indonesia, with the economic growth of 4.01%, and the average national economic growth of 5.07%.

Nathanael expects that palm oil company investing in West Papua can play a role in advancing the regional economy and the well-being of indigenous Papuans, through the regulations in the Raperdasus for Sustainable Development in West Papua. One way is to increase the use value of oil palm plants before the oil palm fruits are sent out of West Papua.

“We hope that the potential can be processed here,” Nathanael said in the West Papua Governor’s office on Wednesday (10/10) evening. He added, “The company must add value to the potential here. They have to know what added value is in palm oil. That’s what I said earlier, build a (cooking oil) factory here. This helps local people too to get a job.”

Conservation Province for Oil Plantations

The commitment to realize West Papua as a conservation province is a challenge for the regional government and palm oil companies.

The existing infrastructure quality and Papua’s geographical situation is an example of challenges when investors want to develop business there. When businesses are not running smoothly, conservation is affected.

Not to mention, the quality of Papua’s human resources is also lagging behind, compared to other regions in Indonesia. This was stated by PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ) Corporate Communications Head Nunik Maharani Maulana, at the 2018 ICBE event on Tuesday (9/10) afternoon.

“We certainly would like many Papuans to get involved in developing the company. We, however, realize that with social problems and the minimum level of education, it will be difficult for us to get human resources that meet the needs of the company,” explained Nunik.

ANJ has been in West Papua since 2007, developing oil palm and sago plantation businesses. In Nunik’s view, the desire of the West Papua provincial government to develop sustainable development is in line with ANJ’s vision. To better understand the concept of provincial conservation, its area coverage, and its impact on ANJ operations in West Papua, ANJ participated as one of the 2018 ICBE sponsors.

“We have a vision of increasing the quality of human life and nature. So, we always see that business must be balanced, to improve the community welfare and protect the environment. It is not possible that a business can do that vision, or maintain that balance, without being profitable from a business side. So, the buzzword is a balance. “

Nunik, however, admitted that Papua is a complex area. For that reason, the track record and model applied by ANJ to improve the community welfare and protect the environment in Papua may be different from the model that has been applied by ANJ in other regions, such as Sumatra, Belitung, and West Kalimantan.

“We use a different strategy for the development of each region, and for Papua, it must be contextual. The strategy that we use in the western regions cannot be applied here. We follow the dynamics. Even though we have been here since 2007, we keep communicating and are keen to find out what is right and the best for the Papua,” Nunik concluded.

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