DTE statement to the CGI meeting, Jakarta 7-8 Nov 2001

DOWN TO EARTH 6 November 2001

As an international NGO which focuses on the social and human aspects of environmental issues in Indonesia, Down to Earth supports the call by Indonesian civil society groups that the CGI should adopt stronger measures to stop the destruction of Indonesia's forests and the livelihoods of the tens of millions of people who depend on them. Their demands include:

  • A moratorium on all commercial logging in natural forests until there is comprehensive reform on land and natural resources tenure and management;
  • Enforcement of debt repayment by heavily-indebted wood-processing companies that cannot demonstrate sustainable supply, instead of recapitalision or restructuring through the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency;
  • Prosecution of any officials, companies and security forces involved in illegal forest activities and corrupt practices relating to forestry.

In addition, the third Indonesian Forestry Congress on 27th October 2001 recommended that:

  • the timber-based paradigm of Indonesian forest management should be changed to a forest management system which supports local livelihoods (1)
  • Indigenous peoples' rights should be recognised, protected and restored (14)
  • Egalitarian, transparent public consultation mechanisms should be employed whenever forest policies are drawn up (23).

The Indonesian government's commitments in the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in September also included immediate action to address illegal logging.

The international donor community should show greater responsibility, given Indonesia's continuing economic crisis and the increasing poverty and indebtedness of the country. The CGI is still providing loans to Indonesia - as it did throughout the Suharto period - without insisting on any accountability from the GoI. The concerns about forest destruction which the CGI raised with the GoI through the Paris meeting and subsequently have been ignored. The GoI has failed to meet its commitments to the CGI on the 12 issues agreed as essential. The annual rate of forest destruction in Indonesia probably now exceeds 2 million hectares. Yet the CGI continues to lend in the region of US$4bn to Indonesia each year. Raising 'concerns' is not enough. If the World Bank and the donor nations of the CGI are serious about issues of forest destruction, poverty alleviation and human rights, loans to Indonesia should be stopped until the GoI delivers on its commitments.

At the same time, lack of donor co-ordination on grants must be addressed. Down to Earth recognises that some donor countries are trying - through grant-funded forestry programmes - to support initiatives which may lead to more sustainable, equitable land and natural resource ownership and management in Indonesia. However, there is now no formal mechanism for donors to plan and co-ordinate forestry programmes in Indonesia. The Donor Forum on Forests (DFF) is an informal body which, unlike the defunct CGIF, does not include research institutions such as CIFOR and ICRAF or allow the participation of civil society groups. In any event, a purely sectoral approach which deals only with the Ministry of Forestry, cannot tackle the crisis facing Indonesia's forests and forest peoples. A cross-sectoral approach which takes full account of the realities of regional autonomy is urgently needed to tackle issues such as overcapacity in the wood-processing industry; the corruption infesting all aspects of Indonesia's economy; violence and intimidation by the security forces on communities which stand up for their rights; the need to prosecute corrupt individuals and companies responsible for illegal forest activities.

There must also be more transparency in relation to donors and forest-related issues. Consultation on forest issues with civil society groups prior to this CGI meeting has been minimal. The GoI's interim reports on progress towards its commitments on forestry should be circulated to NGOs and community organisations. The EU - the lead body on forestry in the donor community - was still compiling its statement to the CGI on November 5th, allowing no time for Indonesian and international forestry groups to consider and comment on this before the meeting. Only a small number of civil society groups have been allowed to particpate in any pre-CGI meetings on forestry. Invitations to NGOs to a meeting to discuss their position with the World Bank representation in Jakarta on November 2nd were sent out on 31st October and only to a select group of NGOs based in Jakarta and Bogor. Civil society groups within Indonesia and the donor nations must be given access to information, time to prepare for consultations and adequate opportunity to comment on donor activities in relation to Indonesia's forests.

Jakarta, 6th November 2001