The Jakarta Post
Indonesia and Norway agreed on Tuesday to continue cooperation on reducing forest-based gas emissions despite Jakarta's earlier decision to disband an agency tasked with overseeing the implementation of the program.
The commitment was made during a bilateral meeting between President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Solberg is in Jakarta for a state visit from Tuesday to Thursday, her first official visit to the country during Jokowi's presidency.
'The two countries have agreed to continue cooperation regarding the REDD+ [on reducing forest-based gas emissions], which began in 2010,' Jokowi said during a press conference after the bilateral meeting with Solberg.
Jokowi dissolved the National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Agency (BP REDD+), merging it with the Environment and Forestry Ministry earlier this year.
The decision raised questions about the future of the country's fight against global warming, with Indonesia committed to cutting greenhouse gases by 41 percent by 2020.
In 2010, Indonesia signed a letter of intent with the Norwegian government to reduce forest-based gas emissions in return for financial support of up to US$1 billion.
In her statement, Solberg said she believed Jokowi was strongly committed to a climate and forestry agenda.
'Much has been achieved by Indonesia [since 2010]... President Jokowi has made it clear that his administration will maintain Indonesia's level of ambitions on reducing deforestation, and forest and peat degradation,' she said.
Recent data from the World Resources Institute (WRI) showed that from 2011 to 2013, the country's average tree-cover loss slowed to 1.6 million hectares per year. According to the data, the country's primary forest loss also slowed in the 2011-2013 period to an average of less than a million hectares per year, the lowest in a decade.
With the 1.6 million hectare loss, Indonesia, along with Russia, Canada, Brazil and the US, was in the top five countries for average annual tree-cover loss from 2011-2013. The total world tree-cover loss was 18 million hectares in 2013.
The WRI has said that the decline in the losses was probably due to a moratorium on new licenses for forest conversions, a significant decline in agricultural commodity prices ' especially palm oil ', corporate zero-deforestation commitments and the fact that most accessible forests have already been cleared.
Since the disbandment of BP REDD, its task and function of reducing greenhouse gas emissions are under the remit of a new directorate general at the ministry.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, who accompanied Jokowi to Tuesday's bilateral meeting, said Norway had expressed no concern over the disbandment of BP REDD.
'Merging it with the ministry gives it extra monitoring abilities. Moreover, the current administration is strongly committed to anticorruption, transparency and good governance,' she said. 'I don't see any need for concern that the change might affect the future of the cooperation on REDD+.'
Retno went on that Jokowi's administration would ensure a balance between its ambitious development plan and environmental protection.
Indonesia and Norway, which Jokowi deemed an 'important partner', have also agreed to boost cooperation on human rights, renewable energy and maritime and fisheries, as well as to jointly tackle illegal fishing.
'We are both maritime nations. Norway and Indonesia have great potential for working together and fulfilling Indonesia's ambition to upgrade the country's infrastructure and energy sector and revitalize Indonesia's maritime potential,' Solberg said.
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