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REDD+ agency closed down ‘is not in accordance’ to Indonesia-Norway agreement

Jakarta, EkuatorialDissolving Indonesia’s agency on reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation, or REDD+, into the Ministry of Environment and Forestry was ‘no doubt not in accordance’ to the country’s bilateral agreement with Norway made in 2010, said Heru Prasetyo, now former head of REDD+ agency, in Jakarta, on Thursday (29/1).

The agreement, dubbed as Letter of Intent (LoI), worth of US$1 billion had underlined specific requirements from Norway government for Indonesia to establish three independent agencies which would deal with REDD+, Finance, Measurement Reporting and Verification (MRV).

After a long process, Indonesia had only managed to set up REDD+ Agency in September 2013. However, on January 2015, a presidential regulation was signed by President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo on the establishment of Ministry of Environment and Forestry which also revoked previous presidential decrees on REDD+ agency and the National Council on Climate Change.

Both institutions will be ‘integrated’ into the Directorate General of Climate Change Control and will be directly responsible to the minister. “This is not in accordance with the LoI which stated that the [REDD+] agency must report directly to the president and not the minister,” said Prasetyo phrasing the regulation as ‘sudden death’ for the agency because there were no transition mechanism regulated in the decree.

Furthermore, he argued that scope of work of REDD+ agency was not merely on forest areas which were under Ministry of Forestry’s authority. “We also deal with other ministries, such as agriculture and local governments. Not only on forest areas. If forest areas only covers 40 percent, REDD+ agency deals with the-untouched 60 percent,” he said adding that he had sent a letter to the president a day before he signed the regulation confirming that President Jokowi had been informed on the issue.

Nevertheless, he said that dissolving REDD agency might be successful if the ministry of environment and forestry proved to be a reformed institution. “If they still practice ‘business as usual’ in their performance then it maybe too late for REDD [to be running and implemented in the ground],” he said.

During its one year operation, REDD+ agency had managed to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with at least eight provinces on implementing the program and permit issuance management. “However, these provinces can backed down from the MoU as there’ was no more REDD+ agency within 30 days,” he said.

As for the funding, he said that the agency had spent US$30 million disbursed for the first phase intended for institutionalization. “We have yet to realize the second phase which would set up finance mechanism independently,” he said.

Meanwhile, Stig Traavik, Norway ambassador for Indonesia, said that they respected Indonesia’s re-organizational process and will give time for the country to sort out its management.

“Indonesia and Norway are allies in protecting forests, sustainable livelihood, and clean air. So, we will listen to Indonesia’s government plans because this is Indonesia’s forests,” said Traavik. “We are open minded [to the situation] and will listen to what they want to do next.” Fidelis E. Satriastanti.

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