Businesses and environmentalists need to ‘get real’ over REDD+

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Many plant and animal species in Indonesia are under threat due to destruction of forests, coral reefs and watersheds. A robust forest management strategy is critical to save Indonesia’s biodiversity from being wiped out. Photo courtesy of Ng Sebastian

JAKARTA, Indonesia (29 April, 2011)_Business and environmental lobbies need to  ‘get real’ over the importance of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and work together to ensure its success rather than pursue unrealistic agendas that will only delay negotiations, says one of Indonesia’s top climate change officials.

“A contract is only as good as the people and institutions it binds, and to build real momentum for REDD+ we need both sides to communicate. This is the real world and to make things work you need compromise” said Agus Purnomo, special adviser on climate change to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a CIFOR luncheon at the ‘B4E – Business for the Environment’ meeting in Jakarta today.

Since Indonesia announced its agreement on REDD+ with Norway last May, there has been increased criticisms from both sides as to the terms of REDD+ strategies, including the current proposed moratorium that would see a two year ban on new forest clearing concessions.

For businesses, the fear is that REDD+ strategies would hamper the Indonesian economy which is set to grow by 7% in the coming year. The moratorium would compromise ‘business as usual’ through increased regulation of palm oil and agricultural industries. It would, many believe, increase unemployment, stall job creation and lead to an overall decline in economic growth.

For environmentalists and scientists, a more robust agreement is needed to ensure that industries do not exploit other high carbon storage areas such a peat lands and mangroves. It would also provide a breathing space to improve business practices and policies.

“It would be naive in the current economic climate to assume that both of these extremes could be achieved. The government has to juggle a number of parallel objectives. We do need to commit to preserve the forest but we also need development.”

REDD+, he stressed, was about changing the way that Indonesia does business that would provide long term sustainability for the economy and for the environment by improving capacity-building, sound governance, law enforcement and greater transparency and better resource management.

The disputes, he said, were stalling an agreement on the moratorium and on future REDD+ strategies.

“These two extreme sides of the argument have penetrated government and now, four months down the line, we still do not have an agreement”.

His comments come after President Yudhoyono, in his opening remarks at the B4E meeting, reassured both sides that “Together, the private and the public sectors must collaborate further, and go beyond business as usual.  Indonesia will be pro-growth, pro-job, pro-poor, pro-environment” – and of course pro-business.”

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