Agroforestry, climate change and Indonesia’s green economy

Sonya Dewi discussing the role of agroforestry in Indonesia's green economy at the Paris COP21. Photo ICRAF/Susan Onyango

Sonya Dewi discussing the role of agroforestry in Indonesia’s green economy at the Paris COP21. Photo ICRAF/Susan Onyango

Over the last 10 or so years, Indonesia has borne the brunt of climate-related disasters ranging from tornadoes, floods and landslides. Indeed, the country faces a challenge around climate change against the ambitions to drive economic growth.

In an effort to combat climate change, Indonesia has set a high-reaching target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 41% by 2020. The country’s commitment defined in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to a global responsibility to cut emissions reaffirms its promise to address climate change and at the same time achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

This may however be an uphill task for a country with a population of 250 million and one of the highest rates of emissions in the world. Deforestation and land degradation, mainly attributed to agricultural activities, are the main contributors of greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia.

Agriculture contributes about 17% to the national gross domestic product and is the main economic activity of majority of rural Indonesian households. With increased industrialization as planned in the country’s economic growth plans, it is estimated that emissions from the energy sector will significantly increase while those from the agricultural sector will decline.

Climate change mitigation measures

As defined in the country’s plans to achieve emission reduction targets, mitigation measures will focus on land-based and energy sectors. Indonesia’s climate adaptation and mitigation plan includes effective planning and land use, sustainable forest management, energy conservation and the promotion of the use of renewable energy sources. Rather than being addressed singly, these strategies will cut across different sectors to jointly accomplish the ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time maintaining economic growth. This, too, will contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Green Economy and Locally Appropriate Mitigation implemented jointly by the World Agroforestry Centre, GIZ and the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency, is a collaborative effort with local governments to plan, implement and monitor green-economy development in the land-based sector that includes agriculture.

Smallholder farmers and the green economy

Smallholder systems in Indonesia. Photo/ICRAF

Smallholder systems in Indonesia. Photo/ICRAF

At a side event hosted by the Indonesian government at the UN climate conference, Paris COP21, Sonya Dewi of the World Agroforestry Centre spoke on the role of smallholder farmers in building Indonesia’s green economy. In her presentation titled, Smallholders role in green economy: challenges and opportunities, she outlined the building blocks towards a land-based green economy including land-use decision-making, land-use policies, land-use planning, ecosystem services, land economics, land management, land economics and the involvement of various actors in the agriculture sector.

There are hypotheses around land use decision-making. Smallholder farmers’ choice to grow certain crops in specific locations is largely driven by profit. Generally, land costs reduce with increased distance from the cities. On the other hand, labour costs are higher due to scarcity as population density is low in rural areas.

However, other factors influence these decisions. Investors and other may hinder social equities with regards to access to farmland. There is urgent need to ecosystem services close to urban settlements where the population is concentrated. Fluctuations in yields and prices, therefore profitability, create uncertainty often leaving smallholder farmers vulnerable.

“Agroforestry offers a win-win solution with space for smallholders to participate in ecosystem services such as climate change mitigation, watershed protection, biodiversity, soil fertility among other and reap benefits,” said Dewi. “Despite this potential, smallholder farmers are not included in development policies and are not recognized as ecosystem service providers.”

Multiple Sustainable Goals that agroforestry can support.

Multiple Sustainable Goals that agroforestry can support.

There are various strategies that may be put in place for agroforestry to contribute towards the growth of Indonesia’s green economy. These include participation of smallholder farmers in a profitable and sustainable manner, fair land resource allocation policies, payment or rewards for provision of ecosystem services, and prevention of fires and restoration of peatlands. Availability of technology for the adoption of agroforestry, public-private partnerships and access to finance to for climate change and adaptation planning and implementation are also vital to the realization of the green economy.

“Agroforestry therefore has a pivotal role to play in reaching the country’s high-reaching target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve multiple Sustainable Development Goals,” concluded Dewi.

The event, Making green economy work: exploring the potential of mitigation actions in Indonesia, was hosted by the Government of Indonesia on 1 December from 12:00 -13:30, as part of the Paris COP21.

Also see:

Presentation by Sonya Dewi: Smallholders role in green economy: challenges and opportunities

World Agroforestry Centre at the Paris COP21'

Susan Onyango

Susan Onyango is the Global Communications Coordinator at the World Agroforestry Centre and is based at the headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. With over 15 year’s experience in communication, she ensures efficient and effective coordination of communication support to units and regions at ICRAF. She joined ICRAF in 2014 as communications specialist for the Climate Change Unit. Susan holds a MA communication studies and a BA in English. Twitter: @susanonyango

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