Lessons from Indonesia–Norway reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation+ break-up

Written by The Frontier Post

Ida Aju Pradnja Resosudarmo

Indonesia announced the termination of the long-standing Indonesia–Norway Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) partnership. While promising, it was anticipated from the start that the collaboration would not be easy. The timing of the termination on 10 September 2021, just two months before the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, presents important lessons that environmentalists can reflect on.
Indonesia and Norway signed a cooperation agreement on REDD+ in May 2010. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+ is an incentive scheme to reward developing countries or entities for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. It was supposed to be a new chapter in their bilateral relationship on forests and climate where Norway pledged US$1 billion to assist Indonesia in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Letter of Intent (LOI) detailed key actions alongside a timeline to be completed by Indonesia and facilitated by Norway.
But two issues plagued the LOI and its implementation from the start. First, the LOI’s design with ambitious substance and timelines did not adequately consider the political hurdles. The dynamics within Indonesia’s government resulted in the delayed completion of required actions. Indonesia’s dissolution of the independent REDD+ agency required by the LOI was a particular setback, replaced by a division in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
Second, Norway and In-donesia have different vie-ws on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+ measures, standards and instruments. Despite these differences, Indonesia has developed the Forest Reference Emis-sion Level 2020, the Natio-nal Forest Monitoring Sy-stem, the Safeguard Info-rmation System, and Na-tional Registry System for climate change control . Indonesia has also establi-shed the Environment Fund within the Ministry of Fina-nce to manage REDD+ and other environmental funds secured from domestic and international sources.
Underlying these different perspectives is the larger issue of trust. Despite significant improvements in the last decade, Indonesia’s forest and land governance has been historically weak. This has resulted in greater scrutiny of the LOI’s implementation.
Still, achievements have been made. These include t-he banning of further conv-ersion of primary forests a-nd peat ecosystems, oil pal-m moratorium, more transparent forest industry licen-sing and forest change mo-nitoring, and intensified forest and land fire management.
The Global Climate Fund has already granted Indonesia a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+ Results-Based Payment of US$103.8 million — the highest among other recipient countries — for 20.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in emissions reduction between 2014 and 2016. This boosted Indonesia’s confidence about international trust on its climate change mitigation efforts and achievements. Indonesia has also made measurable progress in reducing deforestation and has obtained international recognition for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In June 2020, Norway announced that it would make its first results-based payment to Indonesia of up to US$56 million for 11.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of emissions reduction in 2016–2017 compared to the preceding decade.
But Norway never delivered. This led to Indonesia eventually terminating the LOI due to Norway’s insistence to first evaluate Indonesia’s Environment Fund which was established based on a Presidential Regulation and the use of funds. At the time of the termination, discussions on the transfer had been ongoing.
Indonesia’s disappointment with Norway’s failed commitment to pay was less to do with the size of the payment, but the lack of recognition of Indonesia’s achievements in reducing emissions. Norway’s grant is minuscule compared to the costs Indonesia must in-cur to achieve its climate c-hange mitigation targets, i-ncluding the funds Indone-sia has allocated for climate change-related activities.
It is projected that US$19 billion is required annually to achieve the 2030 emissions reductions target. Since 2016, Indonesia has allocated US$6.4 billion annually — 3.9 per cent of its national budget — for climate change-related activities, which is a third of the required funding to address climate change. Indonesia requires funding mobilisation outside its national budget, including international assistance.
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+ narratives and the LOI have contributed to increased public awareness and scrutiny of Indonesia’s forest and land governance, which has led to improvements and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Given the demonstrated and verified achievements, Indonesia should be rewarded commensurately.
Despite the termination, Indonesia has much to offer in climate change mitigation. Its greenhouse gas emissions reductions commitments will be tested by limited funding capacity and more urgent development priorities. Indonesia will remain on the international community’s radar for bilateral and multilateral cooperation in emissions reductions support.
Such cooperation will only work if it is based on an adequate understanding of governance dynamics and realities on the ground to allow for measured expectations. Equally important are mutual trust and strong commitments on delivery of both greenhouse gas emissions reductions and payments.

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