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SBY vows direct oversight
of Norway-financed projects

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he would personally monitor implementation of the Indonesia’s new forestry partnership with Norway.

“I will be active in at least two things: Monitoring implementation in the field, and second, I will ask for regular reports from the agencies in charge so I will be kept up to date on the program’s progress,” he said Friday at Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica in Oslo in a briefing to Indonesian officials.

“If anything happens we can work it out,” the President added.

The officials at the meeting included ministers, governors whose provinces might host forestry pilot projects, legislators, Regional Representatives Council members and the rectors of Andalas University and the Bogor Institute of Agriculture.

Under the partnership, which was signed Wednesday in Oslo, Indonesia will receive a US$1 billion (Rp 9.25 trillion) grant from the Norwegian government to reduce deforestation.

The partnership includes a two-year moratorium on new concessions for converting Indonesian forests and peatlands into plantations. Funds will be paid to Indonesia in phases based on the government’s progress in protecting forests.

The agreement’s phases include building capacity, developing pilot projects in areas to be determined jointly by Indonesia and Norway and launching nationwide projects.  Indonesia will develop an oversight agency during the first phase, which will be led by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, chairman of the Presidential Working Unit for Development Monitoring and Control.

Funds will only be disbursed if Norway sees progress, said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Yudhoyono said that the partnership and the moratorium would not hurt the Indonesian palm oil industry. The country has “degraded land” that could be used by the industry, he said.

The President’s promise to oversee regional pilot projects underscores the importance of the project to Indonesia. “I will visit the field either by helicopter or by road,” he said.

The President said that Indonesia was known as a leader in climate change and that the new partnership “must succeed”.

“It is time to prove that we can succeed 100 percent,” he said.

Yudhoyono said that the partnership should become part of Indonesia’s national forest preservation plan, but officials should not plan all government policies around it.

Indonesia would reduce its carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020 with its own resources, or by 41 percent with international help, he said.

Countries at the Climate and Forest Conference agreed Thursday in Oslo to provide $4 billion between 2010 and 2012 to preserve the forests in Indonesia, Brazil and elsewhere in the world. The talks will continue in Cancun, Mexico, later this year.

Yudhoyono also said officials should address weaknesses in Indonesia’s current forest-protection policy, including unworkable plans, poor implementation and weak leadership.

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