Indonesia’s mixed signals

posted by Margaret Ran

Tbe Government of Indonesia’s REDD working group finally released their guidelines for the distribution of Indonesian forest carbon revenues.  The numbers vary by the forest being protected, but 70% for communities that are ‘Indigenous’ or traditional sounds close to ideal.

But a joint statement by Indonesian NGOs released last month points out that Indonesia’s 2009 ‘Regulation on Implementation Procedures for REDD’ reinforces Indonesia’s controversial Law 41 of 1999 that denies Indigenous peoples’ right to control their traditional forests.

AMAN, a national Indigenous rights NGO in Indonesia, recently sponsored a summit of Indigenous communities to discuss REDD. Wary of generations of marginalization, these communities promised to reject all REDD projects unless community land tenure is respected.

If the current onslaught of pulp-and-paper, headed by APP and APRIL, and oil palm, headed by Wilmar, Cargill, and Duta Palma, is any indication on the protections the Indonesian government will provide for it’s Indigenous representatives, the picture is grim for Indonesia’s forest peoples under the coming wave of REDD development.

Highlights of the recent Indonesian Indigenous summit, now being referred to as the Sinar Resmi Declaration, are pasted below:

(the full document can be found over at REDD-Monitor)

We, the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago:


Stress that all initiatives relating to adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change must be based on the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). This entails carrying out consultations and guaranteeing Indigenous Peoples’ involvement in decision-making;


Affirm that all initiatives on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) must guarantee the acknowledgement and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including protecting our rights to land, customary domains and ecosystems and providing maximum opportunities for indigenous communities;


Agree and insist that, in the absence of such guarantees, Indigenous Peoples will reject the implementation of all REDD plans and any other climate change mitigation initiatives;


Urge the Indonesian government to withdraw the 1999 Forestry Law (No 41) and replace it with one which recognises and protects Indigenous Peoples’ rights;

David Gilbert is a Research Fellow at RAN. He has worked in the tropical forests of the Amazon and Indonesia, with a special focus on forest conservation and indigenous rights.