Thursday, July 2, 2015

Climate Change Adaptation Policy Making In Indonesia


Climate change is not far-off problem, it is happening now and is having real consequences on people’s lives (UNCC 2015). It is one of the most pressing concerns facing today’s society and becomes huge debate topics among scholars. The “Google scholar” identified more than 2.5 millions articles about climate change (Google 2015). It is caused by trapping excess carbon in Earth’s atmosphere and creates “greenhouse effect” which increases the temperature of the planet and they have dangerous effect on the environment, the economy and our wellbeing (UN 2015; ACF 2015).

Climate change has been acknowledged as a global development issue since the “Earth Summit” in 1992 produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (UN 2015). Moreover, the awareness of climate change globally increased in December 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted by the UN Member States including Indonesia. As one of the signatories and parties to the Protocol, Indonesia has been doing several actions and issued several regulations in order to cope with the climate change problems (BAPPENAS 2013: 4-6; UNCCLearn 2013).

Indonesia is among the first large developing country that has committed itself to making large absolute cuts in its Green House Gas (GHG) emissions (Purnomo et al 2014: 22). On the other hand, Indonesia also face many challenges to cope with this issue as this set is against the strong influence of big industry and parts of the government and bureaucracy that have a strong vested or group interest in the status quo (Jatzo 2011).

This article aims to identify and discuss the climate change adaptation policy making in Indonesia especially on its challenges and innovations both at national and local levels. In doing so, this paper will be divided into four parts: First, general context of climate change in Indonesia; second, policy and institutional framework; third, policy outcomes and analysis; and fourth, conclusion. 

General context: Indonesia and the Climate Change

Indonesia is the fourth largest population on earth with more than 250 million people and comprises over 17,000 islands with a land mass equating to about 2 million square kilometres and makes Indonesia as the 19th largest country in the world (World Population Review 2015). Moreover, according to the data from the Ministry of Forestry in 2012, Indonesia has the third largest area of tropical rainforest on the planet, with about 68% of its landmass (or equivalent to 131.3 million ha) covered by forest (UN REDD 2015; REDD Desk 2015).

On the other hand, according to Measey (2010: 31-45), Indonesia is a vulnerable country in the face of climate change. Climate change in Indonesia is receiving a lot of attention as the country is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which are the root causes of the current global climate change (Measey 2010: 31). About 85% of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions stem from land use activities, following with deforestation by 37% and peat fires by 27% (DNPI 2010). Over the last 20 years, deforestation in Indonesia has been driven by agricultural expansion (especially oil palm plantation monocultures), mining, logging, aquaculture and forest fires (REDD Desk 2015). According to the World Bank (2015), per capita emissions in Indonesia in 2010 are relatively low at only 1.8 metric tonnes of CO2 per capita. By way of comparison, Qatar produces 40.3 mt/per capita (the highest) and Australians produces 16.9 mt/per capita. But because of its large population, Indonesia’s overall emissions are very high at about 434,000 kilotons per year or the world’s 14th biggest polluter (World Bank 2015). From economic perspective, in 2010, export value of forest products in Indonesia was US$ 9,71 billion and contributed about 2,5% of the yearly GDP (Ministry of Trade 2011).

The global awareness of the climate change cannot be separated from the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol – an international agreement which commits its parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets – was adopted in Tokyo in December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005 (UNFCCC 2014). Indonesia, as one of the UN member states, singed the protocol in July 1998 and ratified in December 2004 trough Law No.17/2004 (The Cabinet Secretariat 2012; UNFCCC 2014).

In September 2009 at the G-20 Meeting in Pittsburgh, Indonesian President committed to reduce GHG emission to 41% in 2020 with 26% by national efforts and 15% by international support and the efforts will be focused in five areas: forestry and peatland, agriculture, energy and transportation, industry and waste management (Murniningtyas 2013; Jatzo 2011). These commitments were submitted as Indonesia’s Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) to the UNFCCC in January 2010 (Mitigation Partnership 2014).

Climate Change Policy and Institutional Framework in Indonesia

Since 2007, the climate change development in Indonesia gathered significant momentum when Indonesia hosted the 13th COP of the UNFCCC in Bali (UNFCCC 2014; Measey 2010: 32). In 2007, the GoI issued Law No.17/2007 on Indonesia’s Long Term Development Planning year 2005-2025 with its vision is to “Realizing Beautiful and Sustainable Indonesia” and climate change becomes important issue in that long term development planning (BAPPENAS 2013: 4-6).

Indonesia also established several institutions and enacted several policy documents and related regulations to address climate change. The National Council for Climate Change (DNPI) was formed through Presidential Regulation No.46/2008 and acts as the national focal point for climate change issues discussed in international forum (Purnomo et al 2013: 14).  Subsequently, the GoI mainstreamed climate change activities into the National Medium-Term Development Plan 2009-2014 and established a national trust fund (ICCTF) to finance climate change activities (BAPPENAS 2013: 4).

The Establishment of the CCNCT
In order to ensure that the 41% reduction of GHG target can be achieved, President issued the Presidential Regulation No.61/2011 regarding the National Action Plan for GHG Emission Reduction (RAN-GRK) in September 2011 to allocate level of GHG emission for each sector and to determine sectoral programs, executing agency, and estimated budget (The Cabinet Secretariat 2012; BAPPENAS 2013: ii).  The GoI also established the Climate Change National Coordination Team (CCNCT) to run the national action plan (BAPPENAS 2013: 4).

The RAN-GRK is regarded as the starting point for the development and implementation of the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) which introduced in the Bali Action Plan and are expected to be the main vehicle for mitigation actions in Indonesia (BAPPENAS 2013: ii).  In addition, the RAN-GRK is under the responsibility of the Climate Change National Coordination Team (CCNCT) which chaired by the Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) and consists of 6 ministries such as: Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Public Workers (RAN-GK Secretariat 2012).

The Establishment of the ICCTF
The GoI indicates an additional investment required in order to address the climate change issues and this would amount additional investment up to US$ 5 billion (ICCTF 2012). Moreover, in response to the demand of aid harmonisation and coordination, in September 2009, the GoI decided to establish the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF) to coordinate fund from donor donors and the private sectors to finance Indonesia’s climate change policies and program (Frankfurt School and UNEP 2012: 9; ICCTF 2012).

In the ICCTF, decisions are made by multi-stakeholders such as: government, civil society, expert, private sector and donor countries.  The interim fund administrator is UNDP (transition to Government’s National Bank is now in place). The Steering committee chaired by the Vice Minister and Deputy of Environment and Natural Resources of BAPPENAS and includes 11 members (all members have one vote) which consist of: 5 government, 1 private, 1 expert, 1 CSO and 3 contributors (Halimajaya, Nakhooda and Barnard 2014: 2-3).

Science-Policy Dynamics in the Climate Change Policy in Indonesia
According to Colebatch (2009: 8-9), there are three underlying themes in contemporary discourse about policy: order, authority and expertise. The climate change policy in Indonesia demonstrates these three themes.

Firstly, policy suggests order. It means policy implies system and consistency and is governed by a known formula of universal application (Colebatch 2009: 8). In this context, it can be seen that the international framework on climate change influenced the climate change policies in Indonesia. One of the important steps in the Indonesia’s climate change policy was taken in June 1992 when the GoI signed the UNFCCC and ratified the convention in 1994 (Frankfurt School and UNEP 2012: 7). The ratification was then following by several policies such both at national and provincial levels (UN 2015; BAPPENAS 2013; Frankfurt School and UNEP 2012: 7).

Secondly, policy implies authority. It means that policy has the endorsement of some authorized decision-maker (Colebatch 2009: 9). Several policies regarding climate change such presidential and ministerial regulations show the importance of authorities (such as president and ministers) in shaping policies. However, several challenges occurred when the authorities are being influenced by vested or political interests. Chatib Basri – Ministry of Finance 2009-2014 – (as cited by Jotzo 2012: 93) points out that in the context of market reform, powerful vested interests can hold sway over the highest levels of politics and line ministries in the resource sectors tend to look after their industrial clients, and are often looked after by those industries in turn (Jotzo 2012: 93).

Thirdly, policy suggests expertise. It means that to solve some particular problem, policy implies knowledge and subdivided into functional areas (Colebatch 2009: 9). In the international context, the influence of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a scientists and researchers forum on climate change issues has been becoming important source for policy making worldwide (UN 2014). However, in 2013, Indonesia launched the National Climate Change Learning Strategy and focuses on three major fields: building personal and institutional capacity to address climate change, integrating climate change in the national education system and improving awareness and knowledge of parties regarding climate change (Unitar 2013; UNCCLearn 2013). In addition, the DNPI also has “scientific basis and climate data inventory” as one of its working groups and the working groups consist of stakeholders from various sectors including ministries, NGOs and academia (Purnomo et al 2013: 16).

Domestic Challenges on Policy and Institutional Changes
During Yudhoyono’s era (2004-2014), Indonesia experienced several institutional changes.  The establishment of the DNPI in 2008 as a focal point for activities relating to climate change and the establishment of the REDD+ Task Force in 2010 to implement the Letter of Intent between the GoI and the Government of Norway makes many of in the Ministry of Environment were disappointed but also realised that the creation of those bodies was a political decision that they had to accept (REDD desk 2015; Purnomo et al 2013: 17-19).

Despite their achievements, for the sake of efficiency and avoid egosectoral tendencies, the new President Widodo has decided to disband the DNPI and REDD+ Task Force trough Presidential Decree No. 16/2015 and merge the functions of those two bodies under the wings of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (a new Ministry, the merging of the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forestry) (Basorie 2015; Kompas 2015). Moreover, according to some NGOs, the forest policy changes under the Widodo’s administration are good signal for effective and efficient government, but monitoring and controlling by the public are needed to ensure transparency and accountability (Widiyarno 2015).

Policy Outcomes and Analysis

Following the commitment to reduce GHG emissions, in 2011 President Yudhoyono signed a decree to bring into force a two-year moratorium on new forest concessions and its covered primary forest and peatlands (Lang 2011). The moratorium specifically does not apply to existing concession, national development projects including oil, gas, geothermal, electricity, land for rice, and sugar cane, and the extension of existing permits (Presidential Decree No.10/2011).

The reason for the weak moratorium was outlined by a representative of a Malaysian oil palm company with plantations in Indonesia: “There was lots of pressure on Indonesian government from the oil palm industry about this ban since we bring significant investment..” (Reuters 2011). Moreover, President’s special advisor on climate change also stated that there is no limitation for those who want to develop business-based plantations and the GoI is not banning firms for palm oil expansion but just advising them to do so on secondary forest (Reuters 2011; Lang 2011). In 2013, Indonesia’s President extended the moratorium for two more years until 2015 (CIFOR 2014; Redd Monitor 2013) and the new successor (Joko Widodo) is decided to extend the moratorium after suggested by several NGOs  and Think tank organisations such as Forum for the Environment, the Partnership, Sawit Watch and World Resources Institute (Jakarta Post 2015).

Several reforms have been conducted by the GoI and some of them are the examples of the science and policy interface such as: geospatial information and community maps.

In doing the reforms above, Indonesia faces many challenges and obstacles such as: (1) Weak coordination among government agencies (both vertical and horizontal), and no plan or mandate to incorporate sub-national and district-level maps into the OneMap Policy; (2) Lack of technical guidance and data, as well as limited legal recourse available if violations are identified; (3) Pressures and interests from various stakeholders in the policymaking and rent-seeking behavior in the permitting process; (4) Since decentralization era in 2000, the national Ministry of Forestry has been reluctant to cede power over land-use decisions to local entities while local governments are similarly reluctant to cede control of land-use decisions to the national level (Austin et all 2014: 7-10).


In conclusion, for the last 10 years, Indonesia has been doing several actions and issuing several policies to cope with the climate change issues. Despite its extensive efforts and detailed legislation on climate change at national and provincial levels, it is hard to find substantial achievement due to challenges and obstacles in the implementation. The importance of science in the policy making has been acknowledged by the government by establishing learning center, involving many independent experts in the DNPI, giving a representative of CSOs in the decision making in the ICCTF, and taking into consideration recommendation from several NGOs and Think tank organisation on the moratorium extension. On the other hand, Indonesia also faces challenges especially on the institutional changes, coordination between national and local government, and also pressures from group and vested interests in the policy making process.

To tackle these challenges, several actions need to be done such as: improve awareness of climate change and its effects to the local governments and communities based on scientific data, strengthen participation from local governments, civil societies, and experts in the policy making processes, ensure good governance in forest permit processes, and monitor the impact of policies together with CSOs and experts or universities. By doing so, Indonesia will not only has good policies on climate change mitigation and adaptation but also enforceable policies and the outcomes can be measured, evaluated and accessed openly by stakeholders.

Written by: Agung Wasono (June 2015)



Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) (2014) What is climate change?, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

Basorie, W, D. (2015) Dial M for merger: Jokowi’s climate call, The Jakarta Post, available at: (accessed 27 May 2015)  

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) (2011) Addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation in tropical wetland ecosystems of Indonesia, available at: (accessed 26 May 2015)

Climate Funds (2015) Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund, available at: (accessed 26 May 2015)

Frankfurt School - UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance (2012) Case Study: The Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund, available at: (accessed 29 May 2015)

Halimanjaya, A., Nakhooda, S., Barnard, S. (2014)The effectiveness of climate finance: a review of the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund’, Overseas Development Institute, available at: (accessed 27 May 2015)

Indonesia Climate Change Center (ICCC) (2015) Indonesia Climate Change Center, available at: (accessed 26 May 2015)

Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF) (2015) Regulatory Framework, available at: (accessed 26 May 2015)

International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV (Mitigation Partnership) (2014) Indonesia: Coordinating institutions for LEDS and NAMA Development, available at: (accessed 29 May 2015)

Jotzo, F. (2011) ‘Indonesia’s role in international climate change policy’, available at: (accessed 26 May 2015)

______ (2012) ‘Can Indonesia Lead on Climate Change?’ in Reid, A.S.  Indonesia Rising: The Repositioning of Asia’s Third Giant, ISEAS: Singapore, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

Kompas (2015) President Jokowi Bubarkan BP-REDD dan DNPI (President Joko Widodo has disbanded the DNPI and REDD+ Task Force) available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

Lang, C. (2011) ‘Indonesia’s president signs the decree on forest moratorium: Too little, too late’, available at: (accessed 27 May 2015)

Measey, M. (2010) ‘Indonesia: A Vulnerable Country in the Face of Climate Change’, Global Majority E Journal, Vol 1/No. 1: 31-45, available at: (accessed 26 May 2015)

Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) (2013) Indonesia National Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation, available at: (accessed 26 May 2015)

________   (2013) Indonesia’s Framework for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, available at: (accessed 27 May 2015)

Murniningtyas, E. (2013) ‘Update on Indonesia’s Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan’, available at: (accessed 26 May 2015)

Purnomo, A., Niode, A.K., Melisa, E., Sukadri, D., Helmy, F., Sitorus, S. (2013) ‘Evolution of Indonesia’s Climate Change Policy: From Bali to Durban’, available at: (accessed 28 may 2015)

Rondonuwu, O., and Taylor, M. (2011) Update 4- Indonesia forest moratorium softens blow for planters, Reuters, available at: (accessed 27 May 2015)

Sekretariat RAN-GK (RAN-GK Secretariat) (2012) Organisation Structure, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

The Cabinet Secretariat (2011) Presidential Regulation No.61/2011 regarding the National Action Plan on GHG Emissions Reduction, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

­­­­__________ (2011) Presidential Decree No. 25/2011 Concerning the Task Force for Preparing the Establishment of REDD+ Agency, available at: (accessed 27 May 2015)

The Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF) (2012) The Establishment of ICCTF, available at: (accessed 29 May 2015)

The Jakarta Post (2015) Jokowi extends forest conversion moratorium, available at: (accessed 29 may 2015)

The One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UNCC:Learn) (2013) Indonesia’s National Climate Change Learning Strategy, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme) (2015) Indonesia, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

The World Bank (WB) (2015) CO2 Emissions (metric tons per capita), available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

United Nations (UN) (2015) Climate Change, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (2014) Status of Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

United Nations Institute for Training and Research (Unitar) (2013) Indonesia Launches Climate Change Learning Strategy, available at: (accessed 28 may 2015)

Widiaryanto, P. (2015) Merging REDD+ Into Ministry Should be More Effective, The Jakarta Post, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

World Population Review (WPR) (2015) Indonesia Population 2015, available at: (accessed 28 May 2015)

World Resource Institute (WRI) (2014) Indonesia’s Forest Moratorium: Impacts and Next Steps, available at: (accessed 28 may 2015)