Earth Advocates -

Lobby for urgently needed Environmental Policy Reform in Indonesia

During 1999 the Earth Advocates made a strong effort to influence party platforms in prioritizing the importance of radical environmental conservation reform. The motto, 'A Healthy Environment is Essential for a Healthy Economy', which leads to a more healthy and prosperous future. We realized that our continuous hammering of important environmental issues made a strong impression on many people and agencies, which produced some positive results.

We will continue to push the importance and urgency of 'Environmental Policy Reform' to increase our influence on the government and all its components including the people, to make 'Environmental Conservation' a priority item in Indonesia. This endeavor will require office space, possibly a local partner or NGO in Jakarta and the need of employees for secretarial work and translation work.

New Democracy and Environmental Issues

The move to a democratic, reform based political system in Indonesia has brought with it a multitude of issues and problems. Social and economic issues predominate in such a complex country, leaving most environmental issues unresolved. Just as it seemed that President Abdurrahman Walid or 'Gus Durs' administration was making progress in putting more emphasis on Environmental protection policies and awareness, he was forced to resign by the House of Representatives, DPR, those who chose him to be President in the first place. His move to decentralize the government was greeted with mixed reactions from most political analysts, and its results have been good and bad depending on who is asked, or which specific issue is focused on, e.g. environmental issues. The Decentralization dilemmas may have been one of the major points that led the forced removal of Gus Dur, and the instatement of the once popular Vice President, Megawati Sukarnoputri as President. Unfortunately, her instatement seemed to halt any progress made eventually reversing the trend to the old way of cronyism and total pillage of jungles, seas, and natural resources. A lost opportunity to fix things up, Megawati deservingly lost popularity and the 2004 election easily. All the while environment protection issues and policies were kept in check by local and foreign environmentalists, some local governments, NGO's, media reporting, and others, including Earth Advocates.

Decentralization of power - Pro and Con Environmental Protection

The consequences of the decentralization of power to local, state and regional governments has proven to result in a very mixed scenario, from pro and anti environmental protection policies. The dilemma becomes worse when considering there is no consensus between neighboring regions. One regions protectionist policies and actions are countered by the careless pillage of natural resources of the neighboring Region, thus neglecting the total effect of a sustainable pro environmental policy throughout the country. Not to mention the long term detrimental effects to the heavily pillaged regions when newly elected leaders are confronted with such damage, a practically irreversible situation for nature to recover from. Some regional leaders are driven by immediate economic growth and achieving personal wealth during their term, even to a point of outright cronyism with no regard to environmental impact!

The central government has stepped in to try to better control the situation from Jakarta, and to produce a united policy and guidelines to be followed, difficult to implement as always in such a country!

Alternatively, decentralization allows local and regional governments to implement pro environmental policies to the point of total protection for the long term future by establishing Regional Protected Areas, with the possibility to receive permanent National Park status , or even apply for International Environmental Heritage site status to seal an areas fate. This is the scenario that Earth Advocates support and is committed to achieving. A first success has finally been achieved in the Berau area of East Kalimantan after years of preparation. An area that was included within the boundaries of the proposed East Kalimantan Marine National Park by Earth Advocates to the National Government during 2001-02. One can read about this proposal in the Makassar Straits Report, In Depth Reports.

Focusing on Regional and Local Authorities to establish as many Protected Areas as possible

As in the case of the Berau Regional Protected Area, a first of its kind in Indonesia, we believe that convincing and comprehensive work with local regional governments, is currently the best avenue to achieve immediate results leading to the establishment of Environmentally Protected Areas

We are now more committed to introducing and initiating Protected Areas with local and regional governments without having to deal extensively with the National Government officials, as in the case of North Minahasa, read about North Minahasa Integrated Protected Area and see the Video. We also invite and request Local and International NGO's, other organizations and specialized individuals to help regional governments establish an Environmental Protected Area, Once local governments are willing, as in the case of North Sulawesi, since May 2006, any 'so called' Environmental group or individual should be grateful to jump at the opportunity to help balance Natures hold of the earth. Such a serious situation should not be ignored, but prioritized, the urgency to slow down environmental destruction through permanent protective measures. This can only be achieved if the necessary paperwork and footwork are done, planning, mapping, communicating with local inhabitants, gathering support from local chiefs, and general office work are all with in the process needed to successfully establish such Protected Area. Regional governments need the expertise of others, especially those NGO's and Individuals located in the region or country of importance, Indonesia in this case! We invite any group or individuals interested in participating in such an endeavor to contact Earth Advocates by email.