Norway slams slow REDD+ project progress
Hans Nicholas Jong and Ina Parlina
The Jakarta Post
Norway has expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of progress Indonesia has made in its Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects.
In 2010, Norway agreed to give up to US$1 billion to Indonesia to fund forest-related emissions reduction programs in the country.
Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen said on Wednesday that he acknowledged that the Indonesian government had made substantial progress in planning the programs, but added that no visible output was evident as of today.
'Six years into the partnership, we are now impatient to see more results on the ground,' he said during his visit to Jakarta to meet his counterpart, Siti Nurbaya Bakar.
Helgesen said that the lack of progress in the actual implementation of the REDD+ in Indonesia was clear to see.
'We are very satisfied with the dialogue we have had [and] with the groundwork that has been put in place but I don't think anyone can be satisfied when we see the fires last year, when we see continued deforestation [and] when we see continued peat conversion,' he said.
However, Helgesen expressed Norway's appreciation for President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's commitment following the forest and peatland fires last year, which destroyed more than 2 million hectares of land, and were deemed by some as one of the worst ecological disasters in human history.
Helgesen especially praised Jokowi's commitment to implement a moratorium on permits to clear peatland as well as the establishment of the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), tasked with restoring as many as 2 million hectares of peatland destroyed by decades of mismanaged oil palm plantations.
'And it's [also] a critical step for Indonesia's economy, for the people of Indonesia, [and] for the climate of the world. And, therefore also a significant step for the partnership between Indonesia and Norway,' he told a press conference after a meeting with the President at the State Palace.
That said, Helgesen believed that it was still too early to declare the policy a success.
'[Indonesia has implemented] the partial moratorium, which is good, but it's not possible at this stage to declare success because deforestation is continuing. We all know what happened to the peatland last year,' he said.
In a meeting he deemed as very constructive, Helgesen also said that Norway told Jakarta that it would continue and reinforce their long-standing and important partnership.
One form the support will come in will be a US$50 million financial assistance package from Norway to the BRG in 2016.
According to BRG head Nazir Foead, the $50 million is a part of the $1 billion commitment made by Norway back in 2010.
'The $50 million for the BRG in 2016 is a part of the Letter of Intent with Norway in the second phase [of the project],' he said on Wednesday.
The total amount of funds that Norway aims to distribute in the second phase of the agreement is $140 million.
The Indonesia-Norway REDD+ cooperation is divided into three phases; the first being the preparation stage, the second the transformation stage and the last the contributions-for-verified emission reductions, in which Norway will deliver $800 million dependant on Indonesia reducing its emissions caused by deforestation.
The third phase was supposed to begin in 2014. However, the Indonesian government has not completed the second phase yet as it still does not have a comprehensive Integrated Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system, which is mandated by the agreement as well as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
'Of all the things that we discussed with Ibu Siti today, it is critical to make progress on the MRV and we'll be working on that starting next week, putting our teams together to complete that process,' Helgesen said.
Presidential spokesman Johan Budi said Norway's commitment reflected the trust of other countries in Indonesia's efforts to protect peatland. 'We must act seriously in managing forests and peatland, especially in the future,' Johan added.
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