Thursday, 8 October 2009

The EC/EU and the disappearing millions.

Answers from the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Stavros Dimas. You can probably work out what the questions were.

Take a look at the vast sums of public money, not all directed at orangutans or Indonesia, but most of it.Maybe once you have read this you will be asking yourself, 'why, with a sum now approaching €100,000,000 spent bythe EC since the late 1990s, why are things getting worse and what EXACTLY has been achieved'?

Millions of euros would go a long way in any country, in Indonesia it should go a lot further. What do we have to show for all this money?

Now add these sums of money to the millions given to USAid, WWF, The Nature Conservancy, etc, does it not strike you as strange that things keep getting worse year after year, it's difficult to see where the money is spent and what good, if any, it has done?

When anyone now tries directly to ask Minister Stavros and people like Julian Wilson in Indonesia for answers, emails are blocked and rejected. Does this suggest to you they are uncomfortable with accounting for this money?

€100,000,000 spent and rainforests continue to be logged much the same as they have ever been and the population of orangutans in Indonesia on the government's own admission has consistently fallen by 2-3000 annually for the past 20 years or so.

What's the answer? One might be, in future for the EC/EU to only give money to, say, Greenpeace, and one other organisation. This way we would all know where the money went and it would be a lot easier to hold one or two organisations accountable and there successes or failures would at least be transparent.

The only thing that really matters in the end is, results, not effort, not wishful thinking, not good intentions - just results. How much rainforest and how many orangutans saved……….this is what the bulk of the money was meant to achieve. It seems to me in the memo below even the EC admits they have failed on the forestry front, but hell, who cares, no one at the EC will ever be held accountable will they?

I'm still trying to find out what EC FLEGT project does with its €2.5 million a year, but no one seems keen to explain.


Answer given by Mr Dimas

on behalf of the Commission


The Commission has actively supported biodiversity conservation and the sustainable management of forests in Indonesia since the 1990's. During the period 2002-2006, natural resources, and forests in particular, was a priority area of the EC's Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for Indonesia.

The total value of the European Commission – Indonesia Forestry Program (ECIFP), started in the late 1990's and completed in 2005, was €84 million. This programme addressed a number of themes, including forest fire prevention and biodiversity conservation (in particular through the Leuser Ecosystem project in Aceh province). As a result of insufficient progress in reforms to promote sustainable forestry, forestry is no longer a priority area of the EC's CSP for the period 2007-2013. Environment is a cross cutting issue of the CSP however and the EC remains actively involved through the FLEGT[1] Support Project.

The major forest programme of the EC is the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade support project, with a total budget of approximately €15 million[2]. In addition, other projects funded through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international organisations are listed on the website of the EC Delegation in Jakarta[3]. Altogether, approximately €23.8 million has been provided for projects aimed at protecting and sustainably managing Indonesia's forests.

In addition, the EC supports a number of projects aimed at preserving Indonesian forest biodiversity through the Environment and the Tropical Forests budget lines (today Environment and Natural Resources Thematic Programme - ENRTP).

- The project "Pioneering a new way to conserve rainforest: from illegal logging to good governance" managed by Birdlife International, supports Indonesian NGOs for community forestry and local resource management, capacity building for measuring for greenhouse gases emission and uptake by forests.

- The EC also provided support to the Environmental Investigation Agency (UK) for capacity-building for civil society participation in forest governance in South East Asia, with an emphasis on Indonesia (EC contribution €2,057,376).

- "Promoting the conservation and sustainable management of the lowland forests of south Central Kalimantan" is a project, implemented by Orang-utan Foundation, that directly supports field actions for protection of Orang-utans (EC contribution: €1,023,000).

- The EC is also supporting the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) through its contribution to the project "Preservation of forest resources and improved livelihoods of forest peoples through conservation of great apes as flagship species" project, implemented by UNEP, in partnership with Orang-utan Foundation. This project covers several countries but includes a significant number of activities in Indonesia (EC contribution: €3,019,000).

Finally, the EC is the main contributor of the Multi Donor fund for Aceh which finances the "Project for integrating environment and forest protection into the recovery and future development of Aceh" (AFEP project), implemented by the Leuser International Foundation and Fauna and Flora International. The Leuser ecosystem in Aceh is one of the few areas in Sumatra where orang-utan populations remain. (Total budget: €12,000,000).

Besides development cooperation funding, the EC promotes biodiversity conservation and sustainable forestry management through its bilateral policy dialogue with the Government of Indonesia. This includes in particular the negotiation of a FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement. While the aim of this agreement is to establish a credible licensing scheme to ensure the legality of timber exports to the EU, it also provides opportunities to promote better governance in the sector and to restructure the timber industry. These are pre-requisites to achieve sustainable forestry management and protect national parks and other protected areas.

Finally, the EU is committed to the objective of establishing an internationally supported incentive scheme to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries as part of the future UNFCCC[4] global agreement for the period 2013-2020. In its October 2008 Communication on 'Addressing the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss'[5], the Commission has proposed to work in the international negotiations on climate change towards the development of a Global Forest Carbon Mechanism through which developing countries would be rewarded for emissions reductions achieved by taking action to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.

[1] Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade



[4] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

[5] COM/2008/ 645 final