Saturday, May 31 2014
The Forests Asia Summit 2014 took place in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 5-6 May 2014. The official website recorded that over 2,200 participants, with 120 speakers and 30 sessions. Organized by Centre for International Forestry Research and the Ministry of Forestry, Republic of Indonesia as the host country partner, the Forests Asia Summit was indeed a huge event. It was said to be the largest in Asia in recent years
The claim is not exaggerating, because Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Ministers and Deputy Ministers from across Southeast Asia, CEOs and directors from major agribusinesses, civil society leaders and leading scientists were among the speakers. Peter Holmgren, Director General of CIFOR, opened the Summit by drawing attention to the importance of forests and sustainable landscapes in relation to the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The third largest world’s tropical rainforest, Indonesia has lost half of its forest due to massive deforestation since 1950s. The race of economic development forced Indonesia to exploit every bit of its resources and took its toll in the loss of forest in the form of timber industries, legal and illegal logging and forest conversion.
In his keynote speech, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the President of Indonesia, expressed the effort the Government of Indonesia in aligning the development and environmental conservation. Indonesia seeks for sustainable development in the future by incorporating pro-environment policies as the part of Indonesia’s four-prong development strategy that includes pro-growth, pro-jobs, and pro-poor. The signing of moratorium of new utilization and conversion licenses and tree planting are among the efforts mentioned by the President.
Furthermore, the Government of Indonesia realized that there should be balance between conserving environment and guaranteeing the rights of local community over their customary forest within forest management. Thus, ‘sustainable growth with equity’ is the idea of Indonesia’s development strategy.
However, putting the idea into practice is the real effort. National policies should take local account, including incorporating any local level vulnerability assessment. The process of integrating forestry policies is supposed to be inclusive, responsive and flexible. But this is not yet happened in Indonesia. The gap is not only between the same level of government agencies (between ministries or between local agencies), but also between central and local government.
Indonesian autonomous local governance system is another challenge added up to intricate bureaucratic web. Draw the connection line between government and communities; the issues are more complex and embellished with dispute. Local NGOs are in the strategic position to bridge these two disparities. Thus, TFCA-Sumatera is working to promote its grantees to take this role.
TFCA-Sumatera set up 13 prioritized-landscapes mainly anchored to National Parks in Sumatra. This strategy is designed to assist National Park Offices as the representative of central government in certain forest region, the front lines to deal face to face with local stakeholders. TFCA-Sumatera works hard to encourage local grantees to take the lead in coordinating stakeholders for forest management. To directly disburse fund for unorganized forest community is out of question, but local NGOs are crucial in channeling the funding down to the local level.
The Forests Asia Summit 2014 was indeed important to put a bold underline on the development and work of forestry sector. Key actors were meeting, sharing, strengthening network, building commitment and action plan on so-called global green growth. It is noted that green investment is crucial in sustainable development; community involvement is at the heart of equitable growth; and research and knowledge sharing are essential to support and guide the policies. Yet, the road to ideal forest utilization is long but the time is short. It takes years to grow a tree but less than an hour to chop it down and as an old saying: “hunger can’t wait”.
Hence, the homework is seemed like a long and never ending list, and the action has to be taken globally. Forest countries cannot be left alone. The Forests Asia Summit and similar events are quite favorable moments to spread the map of what have been done, by who, where and what have been achieved so far.
The next step would be harder, to fill in the gaps, sew the perforations and maybe convey not only knowledge but also initiatives. Expanding links of what have been success stories to more regions will be essential for achieving ideal forest management in the future, not only in local level but also as an action performed globally.
Nety Riana Sari SN is a Conservation Assistant of TFCA-Sumatera Program of KEHATI Foundation in Indonesia. She is an expert in International Relations, currently specializing in conservation policy and international cooperation on conservation. She has been a CFA member since 2014.
Jeri Imansyah is an expert in Forest and Wildlife Conservation; MSc in Conservation Biology by the National University of Malaysia. He is now serving TFCA - Sumatera Program of KEHATI Foundation in Indonesia as a Conservation Specialist. Jeri has been an active member of CFA since 2013.
Photo Credits: Tanti Ruwani