Indonesian Development Minister to CIFOR: Let’s work together

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) can play a key role in mapping out a research agenda “to develop a more sustainable Indonesia,” said Armida Alisjahbana, Indonesian State Minister for National Development Planning (BAPPENAS).

Speaking at CIFOR’s Annual Meeting last week in Bogor, Alisjahbana extolled the accomplishments made in sustainable economic development during the administration of outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. She also laid out the country’s plans for its development agenda for the next several years, as the country prepares for a new presidential administration.

“Indonesia still has great potential to make the most of our natural resources,” she said. “I hope that CIFOR and this annual meeting can generate a research agenda that is in line with the Indonesian development agenda.”

An edited transcript of her speech follows.

Speech of Armida Alisjahbana, State Minister for National Development Planning (BAPPENAS)

We’re now entering the final few months of the administration of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). Next month will be the inauguration of the elected president, Pak Joko Widodo. Knowing this, we are now in preparation of the next five years’ medium-term development plan … to guide the overall development plan in Indonesia for economic development, social welfare, regional development — including development that I believe will be more sustainable.

With that, I would like to review some of the achievements from the SBY administration, to highlight the potential and opportunities of the next five years, and to link that with the priorities that we already envision for 2015-2020. I would like also to share with you our medium-term development plan in relation to the climate change agenda, the UNFCCC, as well as the post-2015 global development agenda, which is still in formulation. In the remaining time I’d also like to outline how CIFOR can cooperate with us to develop a more sustainable Indonesia, and how to have a better position in regard to the research priorities of the next five years.

In the past 10 years, Indonesia has succeeded in increasing overall prosperity, by reducing poverty and unemployment, as well as maintaining economic growth. When SBY started in 2004 the poverty rate was 16.6%, and the unemployment rate was 9.8%. If we look at the latest data from 2014, especially in the first semester, the poverty rate was 11.25%, the unemployment rate was 5.7% and economic growth averaged 5-7% per year. Certainly those are achievements that we should be grateful for when we compare ourselves with many other developed or developing countries, which face challenges to maintain growth at a sustained level.

Growth does not just happen in Indonesia in a certain region, as it did previously only in the island of Java, but now outside of Java as well. For example, growth in Sulawesi’s provinces has been consistently above the national level, averaging 6-7% in the past few years. Despite such achievements, Indonesia still faces many development challenges. First, though the poverty rate continues to decline, the number of poor people is still large; the latest count was 28.3 million people. Inequality is also becoming an issue now, and by the Gini ratio it is worsening. In 2005 the Gini measurement was 0.36, and the latest data from 2013 was 0.41. We need to watch this because Indonesia’s population is predicted to continue to grow by about 1%. The latest data was 1.41% but we aim for 1.2% in the next five years, so that by 2025 the population of Indonesia will reach around 255 million.

With population growth and the current population demographics, Indonesia has been experiencing demographic bonus since 2011. This demographic bonus should be utilized to ensure that people at a productive working age are in good health, have quality skills, and are productive in generating high enough growth so that we can take care of the rest of the population who are not productive, such as children and the elderly.

Second, Indonesian economic growth and economic structures must be developed according to Indonesia’s middle-income country status. As a country that still in the lower-middle income level, economic growth should be pursued so we do not drop back into the lower-income country status. This is a difficult situation, because it means that we have to maintain growth, but equal growth. In this case, if we can maintain economic growth we can continue to develop our middle class, which in the past 1 or 2 years had reached more than 30% of the total population.

Third, generating economic growth through our natural resources and environment has had an impact on our ecosystems. We often see reports of the poor condition of the environment as the result of indiscriminate behavior, such as waste disposal, which is already endangering the health of the surrounding community. We hear about the loss of habitat. We have already lost much of our biodiversity due to the destruction of forest and water resources. These are several challenges for Indonesia.

On natural resource management

Let me now come to the next section, in which I’d like to convey to you what Indonesia can offer to make sure those resources can be managed properly. Indonesia still has great potential to make the most of our natural resources with the support of the qualified human resources we have been developing throughout the archipelago. In addition, we are hopeful in term of utilization and consumption of our natural resources, as many resources are not yet being used optimally. There’s much value in nature and environment that we can continue to take advantage of, which has tangible or intangible economic value, including for the creative industry and tourism.

I’d now like to share some highlights of the medium development plan for 2015-2020. Based on the above challenges, the next five years of development should be based on the following: resource-based economic competitiveness and quality human resources in science and human technology. Therefore, there are six development agendas: economics development; preservation of natural resources, environmental disaster management and mitigation; politics, law, deference and security; public welfare and social public welfare; regional development; maritime development.

Economic development will include primary sector natural resources development to increase productivity and value added to strengthen food, energy, and water security. Infrastructure development will prioritize connectivity and manpower development, innovation and improvement of logistics and a national distribution system. We have already mainstreamed sustainability principles, demonstrated by increased resource efficiency and environmentally friendly practices. This has been implemented during the current 5-year period of development.

Preservation of natural resources, environment, and disaster management have been prioritized by improving forest governance and conservation. This includes the protection and management of flora, fauna and biodiversity as well as increased efforts to improve the quality of the environment. Improving environmental quality will be achieved by strengthening the quality of law enforcement to monitor and control at central and regional levels, and by improving the quality of data collection systems.


On the social welfare agenda, the focus is on improving the quality of human resources to synchronize with efforts to improve the structure of the economy. In addition to that, we’d like to move past lower-middle-income country status to middle-income status by the end of 2019. Other aspects of human resources development and management such as family planning, poverty reduction and major health services should also be pursued so that the democratic dividend will be realized. On the regional development agenda, we aim to reduce disparities among the regions, between rural and urban areas (particularly between Java and outside of Java), between largely populated islands and smaller islands, and those on the border, frontier and outer areas that are generally beyond the reach of services.

In the maritime development agenda, we aim to realize the great potential of maritime resources as a source of growth, employment and income of the economy on local, regional and national levels. Three main focuses are the development of the maritime economy – not only how to utilize the resources but also how to build and invest in the connectivity of infrastructure; second, conservation and management of marine water quality; and third, exploring and strengthening Indonesia’s maritime jurisdiction and sovereignty.

In regard to economic activities derived from natural resources, sustainable practices are carried out first by improving resource efficiency and increasing value added domestically. Required steps include providing primary commodities that meet industry and consumer quality standards, which are produced in an environmentally friendly manner. This will strengthen the resource-based industries that can support the growth of a resource-based economy. Second, we must create economic value for intangible assets – both for conservation and environmental services, as well as the cultural value of Indonesia and natural resource management. We must develop ecotourism, marine tourism, and cultural tourism based on natural resources that we already have which can be enhanced. Third, we must create new value from the biodiversity economy and marine development, which, I believe, is still underutilized.

The process of increasing sustainable development means streamlining all sectors, including monitoring the impact of various fields on the environment by utilizing environmental quality indicators (or IKLH in Indonesian). This new indicator will be implemented in the next five years, and will be supported by improved methodology and quality monitoring of environmental data collection in the regions. …

As all of you are aware, Indonesia is actively involved in the processes leading to the post-2015 global development agenda. This began with the request from UN Secretary General to our president to become a co-chair of the high level panel of eminent persons for post-2015. The report in May 2014 to UN Secretary General, was titled ‘A new global partnership to eradicate poverty and transform economy through sustainable development’. The report was used to prepare the UN Secretary General for the UN General Assembly in September 2015. I believe this report was already submitted by the UN secretary general and will be one of the bases of the formulation of the post 2015 development agenda.

Furthermore, we in BAPPENAS have also been actively engaged in a various international cooperation initiatives. For example, I myself together with my colleague in UK, Minister Jason Greening, and Finance Minister of Nigeria Madam Ngozi Okonjo, have for the past two years led the global partnership mechanism to help implement the post-2015 global development agenda. In this global partnership forum, we’re aiming to prepare more effective mechanisms aligned with the various global development agendas through the international development cooperation mechanism.

Furthermore, the vice minister of BAPPENAS, Pak Lukita, was one of the 20 intergovernmental experts on sustainable development financing. This provides input to formulate the funding mechanism and implementation of the post 2015 development agenda, but for finance. BAPPENAS, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, also represented Indonesia in the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Among others, Ibu Endah has been very active as a representative, together with about 30 people from 30 countries to discuss the input of the post-2015 development agenda.

In July 2014, the Open Working Group agreed on 60 thematic areas related to implementation, which will be reported to the UN General Assembly in September 2015. All of these materials can be used as input by the countries in implementing the post-2015 development agenda. And for Indonesia, we already tried to take post-2015 into account in the technocratic draft of the next five-year development plan. Presently, we in BAPPENAS are reviewing and adjusting our technocratic draft. Next month we will integrate it with the vision and mission of the selected president, after his inauguration. This process will continue until January 2015.


Now I come to the last section. That is, what CIFOR can suggest to Indonesia, in relation to the research agenda — specifically, on cooperating with us to develop a more sustainable Indonesia. As I mentioned earlier, we have been trying to make concrete steps in a few sectors, and also hope to continue to further mainstream sustainable development principles with the various development agendas in the next five years.

In this regard, CIFOR has space to provide input on the implementation of the next five-year RPJMN through drafting research agendas and collaborating with various parties and stakeholders that would be consistent with the development plan of Indonesia. The details we can share with you in due course. We already have the technocratic draft, which is still in selected circulation within the government, but soon it can be shared. Certainly CIFOR and other colleagues will allow input to enrich the draft.

Certain areas that can be enriched by CIFOR are: the concept of managing natural resources and environment presented in the technocratic draft, ensuring that it is comprehensive and integrated — this is consistent with the new view of seeing the landscape as a whole. This is a good opportunity for CIFOR to undertake research to find a model of landscape management in an integrated manner.  Research may look at the use of landscape in a balanced way, in the production of forest or other land uses such as agriculture, fishery, or others, while maintaining forest conservation and protection. Other valuable research would be to find a combination of use models and activities that generate various economic values, but also include the surrounding communities (rather than forcing them out which is sometimes the case).

While analyzing information such as this, is important to provide a concrete model that could be offered to the various levels of government so that the management of the landscape or the region will be balanced. Indonesia is very large and has landscapes with a wealth of diverse content requiring suitable models that are easy to implement, to attract and quickly bring double benefits. Second, on ecosystem management and utilization, (of both tangible and intangible wealth) we require the identification of appropriate instrument for basic good management. We need to identify data and indicators to help distinguish between good, sustainable practices from non-sustainable practices, and to find a formula or model to measure and quantify the benefits.

A calculating formula model is very important to measure externalities, which may not be taken into account in various activities. The calculation result can be the basis for encouraging and providing the right incentives, and the basis of imposing sanctions, punishments, or adjustment collections from another party. We must also identify the right institution to perform monitoring, measuring, applying sanctions, and identifying the human resource capacity required to carry out these rules.

Appropriate capacity can be built and placed in the appropriate institution to implement sustainable development. So, there are more or less three areas that can be applied to the issue: climate change, the benefit sharing formula, and a mechanism for biodiversity use (as agreed in the Nagoya protocol that will soon be prepared by signatory countries). Other research topics also include the assessment of economic and environmental services models. These are the four areas that I, or BAPPENAS, can identify that are open for CIFOR and other colleagues to contribute.

I hope that CIFOR and this annual meeting can generate a research agenda that is in line with the Indonesian development agenda. We in government and at BAPPENAS welcome any input, research reports, recommendations, and policies that could be offered by CIFOR. Hopefully, this event will be productive and successful. In regards to the ongoing preparation of our development agenda, we encourage CIFOR and other colleagues to contribute any input, comments and recommendations that you may have. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to speak at this important event.