Indonesian minister responds to Norwegian concerns

JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - Indonesias Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has said she regrets a recent statement by Norwegian Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen, which she claims discredits the Government of Indonesia.

The Norwegian minister had expressed dissatisfaction with the perceived slow progress of the Norway-Indonesia partnership in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Helgesens comments were carried by The Jakarta Post on 4 February 2016.

Minister Siti said in the press release that she was regretful that the Norwegian minister had failed to fully explain to the public what he meant by slow progress in the implementation of the partnership between the two countries, given that the Government of Joko Widodo was still in the process of conducting a review as to how the partnership could be made more effective going ahead. The partnership agreement was signed in late May, 2010.

Siti said that the Norwegian Government had apologized for its environment ministers statement to the Joko Widodo administration.

She said that it needed to be made clear to the public that the Norwegian minister had also apologized for his remarks. Thus, she said, there is no need for a prolonged and unproductive polemic on the issue that could damage bilateral collaboration between Indonesia and Norway.

Siti stressed that as the Norwegian-Indonesia partnership was a partnership of equals, if slow progress had been made on the implementation of the partnership, the responsibility for this could not be entirely blamed on the Government of Indonesia.

She said that it was most assuredly not the case that the perceived slow progress had taken place during the term of the current administration, especially as regards the consolidation of the institutions responsible for responding to climate change.
In reality, she continued, such consolidation resulted in greater focus in the development of policies and climate change response programs.

It had been clearly shown that such consolidation was intended to strengthen the response to the high rates of deforestation that had occurred during the terms of the previous administration, she said.

The minister said that this required the sorting out of concessions granted over peatland, a process that was currently being undertaken by the present administration. Among other things, the government had imposed a new licensing moratorium policy in peatland areas and had retaken control of burned concessions.

She said that this was part of the governments policy for the more sustainable allocation of land and forest areas in the future, and the reorientation of forestry policy towards ecosystem restoration so as to support sustainable development.

Minister Siti said that the government was also focusing on promoting renewable energy by imposing ever increasing levels of mandatory biodiesel use, despite the fact that world oil prices had fallen sharply. This, she said, reflects a clear commitment on the part of the present government to ensuring a future sustainable energy for Indonesia.

Greater balance between conservation and development was also being promoted, she said, through the acceleration of the one map policy (scale of 1:50.000), which was supported by a Presidential Decree.

The commitments contained in the Mid-Term National Development Plan (RPJMN) on climate change and sustainable development were also very clear. Much of the progress to date in this respect had been made by the current administration, she explained.

The minister said that all of the changes currently taking place reflected the firm commitment of the government.

Consequently, the use of the expression "slow progress" by the Norwegian Environment Minister does not reflect his views on the work of the current administration, she stressed.

Minister Siti said that cooperation between equals involves mutual respect and appreciation, such as in the case of the partnership between Norway and Indonesia. Consequently, she said, bilateral cooperation between Norway and Indonesia must be truly based on such mutual respect going forward.