Thursday, 31 December 2009

Government Under Fire After Dismal Year for Environment

The EU, American and the British government's own Department For International Development, all of whom pour taxpayers money into supposedly tackling Indonesian environmental problems, with little or no accountability let alone results.

These government people are either naïve, incompetent or possibly even corrupt in as much as they have in the past given away millions of pounds/dollars to the notoriously incompetent and corrupt Ministry of Forestry to save the environment described below. They should all hang their heads in shame.


December 31, 2009 The Jakarta Globe.

Fidelis E Satriastanti

Government Under Fire After Dismal Year for Environment

While the recent Copenhagen climate talks have been criticized for failing to produce a concrete agreement on emissions cuts, local activists are now turning their attention to the government for its failure to protect the environment.

Berry Nahdian Furqon, executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said the State Ministry for the Environment had failed to make significant progress this year, particularly in engaging the private sector and industries.

“They have a lot on their agenda, such as the Proper [Corporate Environmental Performance Ratings] list, among other things,” he said. “However, these have never been integrated into other sectors in order to cover the problems caused by development.

“The state ministry is too detached from other sectors. We can see it clearly from the condition of our forests, coastal areas, air and water, and the condition of our water catchment areas.”

Berry said the Proper list, which catalogs the country’s worst polluters and most environmentally conscious companies, has never been able to cover the bigger corporations and often passed many polluters as environmentally compliant.

This year’s annual list covered 627 companies. Fifty-six companies were put on the “black list” of worst offenders, including 10 state-owned enterprises and 12 foreign companies.

The companies on the black list operate across a range of industries, including oil and gas, coal mining, pulp and paper, textiles, fish processing, plywood and palm oil, and include an oil and gas joint venture involving PT Pertamina in South Sumatra, six state-owned plantations, nine plywood companies, 10 palm oil concerns and a leading milk producer.

Mas Achmad Santosa, an environmental law expert, said the ministry’s poor performance was illustrated by the low number of environmentally compliant companies on the list.

“We can actually see how [the ministry] did this year through the Proper list, and also from the SLHI [Indonesian State of the Environment Report], which still shows no improvement for the environment,” he said.

The 2007 SLHI said the country’s waterways had been adversely altered by human activity and spatial changes, resulting in flooding and droughts.

The latest available data from the report showed that between 2000 and 2005, 1.09 million hectares of forest were lost each year — down from 2.83 million hectares over the preceding five-year period.

The government was accused of failing to promote the national agenda to protect the country’s forests at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen earlier this month, and criticized for accepting the resulting agreement that was neither binding nor adopted by all parties.

“There were never any concrete steps on how to deal with the impact of climate change,” Mas Achmad said. “We’ve been aggressively announcing that Indonesia is going to lead in this campaign, but look at the facts: We still can’t even manage to protect our own forests from illegal logging or forest fires.”

Mas Achmad also said there was no consistency between what the Environment Ministry had said it wanted to achieve and what was actually being implemented across the country.

“Yes, they are very eager to stop illegal logging in the country, however, they can’t do anything when big illegal logging cases are dropped,” he said, citing 13 cases of alleged illegal logging by major companies in Riau that came to nothing.

The new environment minister, Gusti Muhammad Hatta, also came under fire from Mas Achmad for having approved the operations of a gold mining company, Meares Soputan Mining, in South Sulawesi despite it having been rejected by the regional government and the previous environment minister.

However, both Berry and Mas Achmad agreed that there was still hope for progress after the 2009 Law on Environmental Protection and Management was passed in September by the House of Representatives.

“There is plenty of hope for the new law because its content is excellent, with the state ministry being given new powers and public involvement also being promoted,” Mas Achmad said. “But then again, it is still just policy on paper.”

Berry said the ministry would have no excuses for failing to advance its agenda in 2010. “There should be new breakthroughs because this new law is allowing that to happen,” he said. “There should be changes.”