Papua is ready but the world isn’t
Home to a vast area of natural forests considered critical to slowing climate change, Papua province in Indonesia is ready to develop a ‘green economy’ but the world isn’t ready to invest
Committed to retaining 80% of existing natural forests, Papua province needs both the national government and developed countries to co-invest in increasing economic growth in a sustainable manner. Despite promises, little progress has been made.
One exception has been the European Union, which has been investing through a project called ‘Participatory monitoring by civil society of land-use planning for low-emissions development strategies’ (ParCiMon), which is implemented by the World Agroforestry Centre Indonesia in partnership with the Papua Low Carbon Development Task Force, Brawijaya University, Papua Conservation and People Empowerment Foundation and the Papua Environmental Foundation.
‘Papua very much appreciates the support of the European Union and the World Agroforestry Centre’, said Mr Heri Dosinaen, Papua provincial secretary, ‘however, if we are to protect our forests properly then the national government needs to support stronger law enforcement. We also need investment in a “green economy” from both Indonesian and international supporters to ensure that the people of Papua can enjoy the benefits of development while maintaining the forests both for themselves and for the rest of the world’.
The ParCiMon project strengthens the capacity of local governments and communities to monitor planning and implementation of a ‘green’ economy, that is, one that reduces greenhouse-gas emissions while maintaining economic growth. However, it is training people to monitor something that has not yet been realised owing to delays by the national government and world community in developing a practical international emissions-reduction scheme.
Staff of government agencies and villagers alike, who have learned what is involved in planning and monitoring a low-emissions economy in their areas, are keen to start the actual work of reducing emissions and building the new economy but are increasingly frustrated by the lack of external support.
‘The work we are doing with policy development through the ParCiMon project in Jayapura district is a role model for the sustainable use of forests’, said Mr Yerie Ferdinand Dien, Jayapura regency secretary, ‘and is the best opportunity for preserving the forests for the future. We also are working to ensure that families and villages are economically secure. We are much better prepared for the time coming when there is increased pressure for unsustainable exploitation of natural resources’.
The enthusiasm for green development extends to the village level. In Wambena village, Depapre sub-district, Jayapura district, local leaders are keen to share with neighbouring villages the knowledge they had gained of carbon stock and watershed monitoring, both of which are critical for understanding just how much carbon is stored and how rainfall is changing, as well as improvements that can be made to their tree-based agricultural systems that reduce their reliance on the forests as sources of materials and income.
‘As the “adat” [customary law] leader of Wambena, I am proud that our neighbours have already come to us formally asking to learn what we know’, said Mr Levrans Yarisetouw. ‘I am willing to share this knowledge throughout the district. We have learned why it is important to protect the forests and how we can get better income from our land by improving our agroforests’.
Despite the success of ParCiMon in building the capacity of the people of Papua to prepare themselves for a low-emissions economy, unless further support is provided by Jakarta and the international community, all the work, and the forests themselves, are at risk.
‘ParCiMon is not designed to implement a green economy’, said Dr Sonya Dewi, the project leader, ‘but rather to ensure and increase readiness that such an economy can be planned by Papuans and, when it is implemented, can be monitored by Papuans to ensure that the economy really is “green”. However, now that we have been raising people’s awareness of the benefits of reducing emissions through protecting forests while also boosting incomes, they want to actually make it happen. So we are encouraging other partners, such as the various levels of government we work with, and the European Union, to refocus their efforts to support this’.
With the world still no closer to a rewards’ scheme for countries that reduce their emissions from deforestation (see Lima: no LAAMA, no GAMA as INDCs replace NAMA), hopes are focused on financing mechanism and schemes through the national government in Jakarta, which had previously committed to a unilateral reduction of 26%. While waiting to see if the political will exists, the ParCiMon project team will continue to make every effort to realise the goal of sustainable development in Papua.
ParCiMon is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry