New climate change agency in Indonesia to go beyond carbon

Dr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto at ICRAF-Nairobi 5 Feb 2013

Dr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto at ICRAF Hq-Nairobi, 5 Feb 2013

Between 60 and 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia come from forest and peatland loss. “We have to tackle this in order to meet Indonesia’s commitment to emissions reduction,” Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said to an audience at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) headquarters in Nairobi, on 5 February 2013.

At the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in 2009, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the richly forested country. “We are devising …a policy … that will reduce our emissions by 26 percent by 2020. With international support… we can reduce emissions by as much as 41 percent,” the President said. And in May 2010, Indonesia signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Norway to support REDD+ through a contribution of 1 billion US dollars, to be paid based on verified emissions reductions.

“Our biggest challenge is business as usual” said the Head of Indonesia’s President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight, Dr. Kuntoro. The statesman, who also chairs the country’s REDD+ Task Force, is leading the creation of a new REDD+ Agency that will be the fulcrum of Indonesia’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Agency is expected to be operational by mid-2013.

One of the first challenges the REDD+ team faces is related to land use conflicts, where, for example, the same forest area may be claimed for the use of local communities, forestry and mining because different departments of government have overlaid their plans on the forest, often ignoring other departments’ plans and maps. To address the issue, a unified digital map is being created of Indonesia, an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, which will serve as a primary, up-to-date reference, standard, database, and geoportal. The “One Map”’s creation, coordinated by the REDD+ Task Force, is at an advanced stage and is expected to be ready by the end of 2013, with room for refinement.

“For the first time in history, there is public access to a digital map of primary forest and peat land…open for public scrutiny and correction. This one map will help us build trust and data reliability, and help resolve land conflicts,” said Dr. Kuntoro.

Speaking to the essence of Indonesia’s REDD+ Strategy, he said success will take a shift in paradigm: “The old paradigm was ‘Cut trees to get revenue’; the new paradigm is ‘Maintain forest, get revenue and improve people’s welfare.

“I am engineer by training and environmentalist at heart. I consider myself to be a pragmatic person. As REDD+ initiatives get underway there are many questions I must answer, including to indigenous and forest-dwelling communities living by the Adat system,” he added. Among the initiatives are village planning and mapping, green schools, community forest fire management, livelihood initiatives, community journalism and community training centers. The first pilot province is Central Kalimantan and a further 10 have been designated.

Dr. Kuntoro said the REDD+ Task Force would be interested in drawing on the World Agroforestry Centre’s experiences and innovations, such as those related to payments for ecosystem services, spatial analyses and monitoring of land health.

During the discussion following the presentation, ICRAF Director-General Dr. Tony Simons said current market prices for carbon often underestimate the value of trees and forests. “Carbon that is contributing to biodiversity and securing freshwater is worth a lot more than two or six dollars a tonne,” said Simons.

At the same event Dr Kuntoro and Dr Simons signed a memorandum of understanding between the Centre and Indonesia’s President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight to work together with the United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNORCID) to strengthen the capacity for quality agroforestry and REDD+-relevant research in support of sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

Reviewing Indonesia’s commitments and efforts to combat climate change Dr. Kuntoro struck a somber concluding note, which serves as a call to partnership: “… If we fail in Indonesia, I doubt we can succeed in any other part of the world.”

REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, as a means to mitigate the impacts of land and forest degradation on climate change.

Further information, including Indonesia’s National REDD+ Strategy is available at

Download Dr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto’s presentation

World Agroforestry Centre’s Southeast Asia Regional Office based in Bogor, Indonesia


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The drivers and levers of deforestation

Mitigation and adaptation: a perfect marriage made on farms

The carbon footprint of oil palm in Indonesia

How is REDD+ doing in Africa?


Further reading

Payment for ecosystem services’ projects: RUPES in Indonesia and PRESA in Africa

Land health research at the World Agroforestry Centre

Environmental services research at the World Agroforestry Centre'

Daisy Ouya

Daisy Ouya is a science writer and communications specialist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Over the past 15 years she has been packaging and disseminating scientific knowledge in the fields of entomology, agriculture, health, HIV/AIDS research, and marine science. Daisy is a Board-certified Editor in the Life Sciences ( and has a Masters’ degree in chemistry from the University of Connecticut, USA. Her BSc is from the University of Nairobi in her native Kenya. She has worked as a journal editor, science writer, publisher, and communications strategist with various organizations. She joined ICRAF in July 2012. Twitter: @daisyouya

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