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Indonesia: Political will needed for Rio+20 to succeed

Jun 15, 2012

Even though Indonesia seems to have done a turnaround since the Bali Climate Change Conference in 2007, it still seems to be a country of influence in the upcoming Rio+20 negotiations.

Indonesia's government has come a long way since the stand-off at Bali five years ago. At the 13th Conference of Parties in Bali; Indonesia could only watch helplessly as an acrimonious debate only got worse because, in perfect Asian tradition, it did not want to offend Western guests.

An exasperated Pakistani ambassador Munir Akram who chaired G-77 had then told journalists: “We, the developing countries, have had an uphill battle at this conference to protect our legitimate interests. We had to fight every inch of the way to secure our objectives.”

Bali was mired in rancour, especially as the US took positions at odds with the rest of the world and the efforts to emphasise on developing countries’ responsibilities.

On Tuesday, Indonesia’s President, Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, expressed a belief that belies the events in Bali. What was interesting in a globally broadcast talk by the Indonesian President, was that central to his stance on Kyoto was the President’s belief that “developed countries should take the lead in reducing emissions, but developing countries should also do more.”

While speaking at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia on Wednesday, Indonesia’s  President, Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for “sustainable growth with equity.” He called upon "certain developed nations" to fulfill their commitments which were agreed to under the Kyoto protocol and work towards an "interim arrangement for a second period commitment which will last either five years to 2017, or eight years to 2020 to be decided in Doha, Qatar."

President Yudhoyono, due to depart for the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico and then, on to the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in a week’s time, warned of the dangers of "a world obsessed with insatiable consumerism and indulging in excessive exploitation of resources," saying that such consumerism would eventually lead to the degradation of the natural ecosystems and regenerating bio-capacity and eventually, to global warming.

His speech, though, had an emphasis on a culture of consumerism enveloping the world. "Ours is a world driven by greed rather than need. If we go down this path, it will lead to environmental degradation; more global warming; and, ultimately, more desperation for the human race," he said.

He envisioned the need for the formulation of a comprehensive "Global Climate Treaty" that would impose legally-binding obligations on all the nations of the world.

In the same breath, President Yudhoyono lauded several policy initiatives and environment friendly schemes undertaken by Indonesia as part of its "sustainable growth with equity" programme. The programme, central to Indonesia’s environment strategy, aims to "reduce inequality and development gap as well as balance economic, social and environmental objectives."

Under its 'One Billion Indonesia Trees for the World' program, the Indonesian government and its citizens have planted some 3.2 billion trees in the past two years. The government, he said, has also applied a moratorium for new permits on primary natural forests and peat lands to improve the tropical country’s forest and peat land management system, to make a significant contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the President’s remarks come even as a ruling by Indonesia’s Constitutional Court is set to shift forest management authority from the country’s powerful Ministry of Forestry to local governments, much to the chagrin of his government.

The decision comes as local officials attempted to issue licenses for oil palm plantations in 116.2 million hectares of the country’s forest zone covering roughly 130.7 million hectares accounting for over two-thirds Indonesia’s landmass.

Dwelling on the Millennium Development Goals and the Kyoto Protocol, the Indonesian president urged the international community to "make maximum gains on all the MDG targets until 2015" and "make sure that the post-2015 post-MDGs global development framework be long-term, comprehensive, resourceful, ambitious, global and able to built upon the achievements of the MDGs."

He asserted that Indonesia’s commitment to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions is a model for many other nations. Indonesia, he said, has set a target of reducing 26 per cent of its emission for 2020.

For the complete speech of the President, click here.

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