Solidaritas Perempuan: Save the Earth, Stop the Commodification of Nature!

DTE 99-100, October 2014

This was the message to the candidates taking part in this year’s Presidential elections, issued by Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights) in its Earth Day press release, 22nd April 2014.

Translated by DTE.

To mark Earth Day, Solidaritas Perempuan is appealing to the Indonesian people to vote for a national leader who has the courage to take clear measures to stop the commodification of nature in Indonesia for global interests, and to restore sovereignty over natural resources management to the state, for the greatest possible prosperity of the people, women as well as men. Moreover, Solidaritas Perempuan appeals to the Indonesian people to choose a national leader who promotes respect for, the protection and fulfilment of the rights of women, including women’s rights to manage natural resources, and who promotes gender justice.

Industrialisation in the name of development has had a huge impact on the environment: on water, minerals, land, living organisms, the atmosphere, the climate and life as a whole, including the lives of women. The growth of industry and the economy is directly proportional to the amount of environmental devastation and the depletion of natural resources to meet the needs of development and industrialisation. And the damage is done by mining companies, transnational or multinational corporations, which have set up in developing countries like Indonesia. The paradigm of pro-growth-orientated development through foreign investment is clearly not leading to improved conditions for the people of Indonesia. Instead, poverty is still very much in evidence throughout Indonesia. This is especially the case for women, whose lives are closely connected to land, water and forests, due to their gender roles, but who continue to be marginalised in their access to, and control over natural resources. When women’s access to and control over natural resources is disrupted, then the sources of women’s livelihood are disrupted too, and gender injustice becomes increasingly entrenched in this country.

In 2011, Indonesia’s national leader, President SBY, put forward a programme that has the potential to increasingly commodify Indonesia’s nature: the MP3EI (Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Economic Development in Indonesia). With this project, the land and nature of Indonesia will become commodities, parcelled up into 6 economic “corridors”: Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali-Nusa Tenggara and Maluku-Papua, focussing on, among other things, mining, oil and gas, plantations, agriculture and fisheries. The total value of investment for MP3EI in all the economic corridors is Rp 4,335 trillion, with Rp 2,447.3 trillion in the real sector,  Rp1,888.6 trillion in the infrastructure sector and 18.6 trillion in human resources and science and technology.[1] These investment projects will have an increasingly damaging impact on the environment, and on Indonesia’s dwindling forests. According to recent data from the Forestry Department, Indonesia loses 1.18 million hectares of forest every year.[2]  In January 2014 alone, the Forestry Ministry issued 6 decrees[3] to release forests for conversion to oil palm plantations, covering a total of 83,694.81 hectares in Central Kalimantan, South Sumatra and Papua Barat.[4]

These investment projects will mean the further entrenchment of poverty for the Indonesian people, and especially women, if nothing is done to address the range of problems resulting from industrial activity, environmental damage, agrarian conflict, human rights violations, criminalisation and loss of access and control by the people, especially women, in natural resources management. Before resolving land conflicts and human rights violations, the Indonesian government, with its commitment to reduce emissions, has commodified the country’s forest wealth and has made Indonesia available as a field-test site for climate projects.  While Indonesia commits to safeguard its forests through various initiatives, the emitting nations continue doing business as usual, and continue to justify their emissions by providing a small portion of their profits to fund mitigation projects in developing countries.

Every year, more and more Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects are being developed in Indonesia. These projects, ostensibly carried out to save the environment, are clearly not working out as planned. A variety of problems has emerged in the demonstration activities development stage, even before REDD+ gets to the implementation stage. The most notorious REDD+ failure project is the Kalimantan Forest and Climate Partnership, funded by Australia to the tune of 30 million Australian dollars. Rather than protecting the forest and repairing the damage to forest, this 120,000 hectare project, begun in 2010, has stagnated for more or less 4 years, causing conflicts with communities, and is not even capable of preventing forest fires in the project area. The communities, particularly the women, didn’t get clear, correct or complete information about the project, and the restrictions to their access and control over forest management led to conflict.

The problems that arose with this project, have not discouraged the government from continuing to implement REDD+. In its press release of April 2nd, the REDD+ Management Agency (BP REDD+) said that 11 provinces were ready to implement REDD+, improving forest and peatland governance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The eleven partner provinces of the REDD+ Management Agency are: Aceh, Riau, West Sumatra, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, Papua and Papua Barat. However, those areas have histories, running up to the present day, of unresolved agrarian conflict. The more REDD+ implementation progresses,  the more women will be marginalised, and the longer gender injustice will continue as long as there is no protection for women.

On this Earth Day and in the run-up to the Presidential Elections 2014, Solidaritas Perempuan again calls on candidates for the national leader to:

  1. Ensure that women are protected in their management of natural resources;
  2. Stop policies that threaten natural resources and the sources of women’s livelihood;
  3. Stop the expansion of mining and large scale plantations;
  4. Settle agrarian conflict by promoting the protection of women’s rights;
  5. Carry out agrarian reform with gender justice;
  6. Press industrial nations to take responsibility for reducing their emissions;
  7. Prioritise climate funding for adaptation to climate change, allocating special funds for women to overcome their vulnerability to climate change, and avoid funding from loans;
  8. Prevent and take firm action against the perpetrators of environmental destruction, of violations of human rights and of women’s rights, and stop the various forms of criminalisation of communities, especially human rights defenders, who are fighting for their resource management rights.

Jakarta 22 April 2014

Wahidah Rustam

Head of Solidaritas Perempuan

CP: Aliza (0818129770)

[1] Laporan Perkembangan Pelaksanaan MP3EI (s.d. Maret 2013), Kementerian Koordinator Bidang Perekonomian, 2013, hlm.

[2] Realisasi Pelepasan Kawasan Hutan untuk Perkebunan, Data Kementerian Kehutanan Februari 2014.

[3] SK Pelepasan Kawasan Hutan

[4] Hutan dan Perubahan Iklim, [link no longer functioning].