Friday, September 9, 2016

1) Regional Civil Society Applaud Leaders_ Commitment to Dialogue

 2) Jokowi’s maritime highway to be rerouted
 3) The good, the bad, and the ugly in palm oil (commentary)

1) Regional Civil Society Applaud Leaders_ Commitment to Dialogue
The value of ongoing dialogue with civil society was recognized and reinforced by Forum Leaders when they met yesterday at the Regional Civil Society Breakfast in Pohnpei.
The breakfast meeting was led by Forum host and President of the Federated States of Micronesia, His Excellency Peter M. Christian. Also attending was Palau’s Minister of State Billy Kuartei,  Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Hon. Rimbink Pato, Samoan Prime Minister Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele and H.E Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of Marshall Islands.
Six representatives of Pacific Civil Society put forward their collective perspectives on current regional policy priorities. These included, climate change and disaster risk management, human rights violations in West Papua, regional disability development, labor mobility, and integrated sustainable management of our oceans, lagoons and marine resources.
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor said, “Through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, Forum leaders called for an inclusive approach to policy development. This means engaging across the Pacific to make sure we are informed by a diverse range of viewpoints. This dialogue with civil society, which began last year in Papua New Guinea, has grown into an important and valuable part of work of the Pacific Islands Forum.”
Reflecting on the breakfast, Civil society representative Finau Limuloa said “I feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment with today’s outcome. I am grateful to the Forum Secretariat for facilitating this process, that met with the Leaders. It was a privilege to stand before the Leaders and engage with them on behalf of Pacific civil society as equal partners. I could not have hoped for a more positive and welcoming response by our Leaders.”
Regional CSO Representative and Coordinator of Chuuk Youth Council, Mr Mori M Mori said “I was quite nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but I could see that the presentations captured the Leaders attention. All the effort and hard work has paid off.”
Sport was also raised as a potential game changer for the region and a powerful enabler of sustainable development. “It cuts across the social, economic and political development of Pacific Island countries’, said representative Mathew Vaea. “sport has undoubted health and social benefits for the Pacific. As we battle an NCD crisis I believe this could be a effective way to address it.”
CSOs called on Forum Leaders to endorse the Pacific Regional Framework on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PFRPD) and called on development partners to work with the Forum Secretariat to support its implementation.
Mr Michael Din, used sign language to convey the disability positions to Leaders saying, “I believe our call has been received well by the Leaders today. I can see that everyone, especially the Forum Leaders, were in tune to our song and I thank them for their leadership at this time in our history. Their legacy will be a Pacific region where no one is left behind”.
The perspectives presented by civil society will be further discussed at the Forum Leaders retreat on Saturday 10 September in Pohnpei.
The civil society breakfast was supported by the Forum Secretariat’s Non State Actor Program funded by the European Union.
Inquiries can be directed to:
 2) Jokowi’s maritime highway to be rerouted
Farida Susanty | The Jakarta Post | Jakarta
Fri, September 9 2016 | 09:07 am
The maritime highway program — a flagship of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration — will undergo a revision as the government seeks to increase efficiency and reduce competition with the private sector.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Wednesday that it was mulling over scrapping several routes that were already being sailed by commercial shipping companies.
“The government’s and the private sector’s roles should be more balanced. Therefore, the maritime highway routes should be focused on non-commercial routes, while the commercial ones should be given to private operators or state enterprises,” he said.
At present, the government assigns state shipping firm Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia (Pelni) to operate freighters in six routes to carry staple goods, such as rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil, eggs, steel and cement. The delivery of those goods is expected to push down prices that soar in remote areas, especially in the eastern part of the country.
The six routes connect major ports, such as Tanjung Perak in East Java and Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta, with remote areas, such as Tual in Maluku.
In one route, for instance, a freighter will sail from Tanjung Priok to Biak in Papua, with stops in Makassar, South Sulawesi; Manokwari and Wasior in West Papua; and Nabire and Serui in Papua. The return trip takes around 4,644 nautical miles in total.
Budi said the Jakarta-South Sulawesi-Papua route would potentially be changed to South Sulawesi-Papua as a commercial freighter was already traveling from Jakarta to South Sulawesi.
“There is a large port there [in Makassar, South Sulawesi] and the price of rice is also similar to the price in Java — why do we have to travel there?” he said. The revision might also include the Jakarta-Riau Islands route that may be altered to Riau Islands-West Kalimantan.

Budi said he had notified Pelni of the revision plan and added that the ministry was preparing to put on tender as many as three additional routes for private shipping companies in the next two weeks. Operations for the three new routes are scheduled for next year.
The ministry expects the overall revision to help reduce costs as it will no longer subsidize several routes. It has allocated Rp 257.9 billion (US$19.7 million) in public service obligations (PSO) this year to subsidize trips in the six routes, an increase from Rp 30 billion in 2015, as the program only commenced late last year.
At the same time, the ministry hopes to see higher trip frequencies and shorter duration in several routes following the change. A freighter could travel from Riau Islands to West Kalimantan once every 10 days, instead of once every 21 days as it does now.
The government previously claimed that the program has helped slash prices in remote areas by 20 to 30 percent. The end goal is also to cut down on the overall logistics costs plaguing the business climate.
Indonesian logistics costs account for 24.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), among the highest in the Southeast Asian region, according to data from the World Bank.
However, despite the claim of lower prices, the government still has to solve the occasional problem of the low load factor or empty freighters returning to major ports when they should ideally transport goods from the eastern region as well.
Separately, Indonesian National Shipowners Association (INSA) chairperson Carmelita Hartoto said the planned route revision would create healthier competition between the private sector and the government.
The association also proposes several routes for the revision, including ones that connect East Java-Maluku-Papua and East Java-East Nusa Tenggara, as private firms already sail those routes.
 3) The good, the bad, and the ugly in palm oil (commentary)
9 September 2016 / Commentary by Erik Meijaard / Douglas Sheil / David Gaveau
Erik Meijaard of Borneo Futures, Douglas Sheil of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, of David Gaveau of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are the authors of a paper published today in Scientific Reports. The views expressed are their own. 

                        A new study quantifies the impact of palm oil on forest cover in Borneo.
                        The results indicate that the plantation industry was the principle driver of the loss of old-growth forest in Malaysian Borneo.
                        The good news, at least for Indonesia, is that considerably more oil palm has been developed on land that had been cleared many years previously.
                        This post is a commentary -- the views expressed are those of the authors.
Among the World’s most controversial industries, palm oil production is once again in the headlines. The polarized rhetoric and contradictory claims – concerning who really did what and where – shows the need for objective information concerning what really is going on. A new publication provides just that and moves us towards objectively judging the impacts of palm oil. And to say that such information “is urgently needed” is an understatement.
In August 2016, at the International Peat Congress in Kuching, a keynote speaker from the Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association, started with a frontal attack on NGOs. “Today, the oil palm industry in Sarawak bears witness to the success story of the planting of oil palm on peatland. But the journey ahead continues to face challenges from unfounded attacks and criticism from NGOs who demonize the palm oil industry in the face of the stiff competition it poses to the seed oil industry of Europe.” The speaker then continued to compare the criticism of the palm oil industry as “reminiscent of genocide acts waged by the Dutch East India Company against inhabitants of the Maluku Islands to exert a monopoly over the spice trade in the region”, and that “the tactics employed by present-day NGOs to demonize palm oil are no different in their hideousness and patronizing attitude.”
We are not going to argue about the ethics of the Dutch East India Company, or whether its approach to creating wealth for its investors is more like that of the palm oil industry or that of its critics. But it is obvious that there are sharply conflicting views dividing those concerned about oil palm. Reconciliation seems a distant option. It requires open, fair and transparent dialogue between the opponents and proponents of palm oil.

That dialogue won’t be smoothed over either by recent revelations of apparent illegal land clearing and burning practices by the South Korean Korindo group in Papua and Halmahera and by oil palm plantation company Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL). At a time when the Indonesian government talks about extending the existing moratorium on new palm oil licenses, there is evidence that the Korindo group cleared more than 50,000 hectares of tropical lowland forests and that APSL burned 2,000 ha of land on State Forest land where agricultural developments are illegal according to national law.
Although oil palm companies cannot legally operate outside their concessions, up to 30 percent of the total land area developed by companies do not possess formal concession titles, a recent study has found. These are ugly stories indicating how companies ignore environmental regulations.
It is obvious that the palm oil industry remains as divisive as ever. Proponents, such as the companies in the industry, the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia and many other tropical countries, and many rural communities embrace large-scale palm oil developments for the socio-economic benefits it can bring. Opponents hate the industry for its environmental and social impacts.

The new study brings objective data to the table and helps inform both the proponents and opponents of the industry. It indicates, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the truth lies between their claims. The scientists found that 76 percent of Borneo, the third largest island in the world, was old-growth forest in 1973. In 2015, 50 percent of the island remained forested, and 12 percent of Borneo was covered in industrial plantations, both for the production of palm oil and pulp and paper.
The study found contrasting patterns between Indonesia and Malaysia’s conversion process, i.e. the amount of time between deforestation and plantation development. In Malaysian Borneo, the plantation industry was the principle driver of the loss of old-growth forest, as 57–60 percent of all deforestation over four decades was associated with rapid conversion (within five years of forest clearance) to industrial plantations.
In Kalimantan, on the other hand, only 15–16 percent of all deforestation was associated with rapid conversion to industrial plantations (11–13 percent attributed to oil-palm) as the majority of oil-palm plantations were developed on lands cleared before 1973 and on degraded lands (predominantly forests converted to scrublands by drought and recurrent burning). This shows that the majority of oil palm plantations in Kalimantan were developed on degraded lands, meaning forests converted to ferns, grasslands and scrubs by drought and recurrent burning, mainly during El Niño years.
The expanding area (9.1 Mha) of industrial plantations (oil-palm and pulpwood) in six time periods from 1973 to 2015 with vegetation cover of the land just before observed conversion to plantations in Borneo (A), Indonesian Borneo (B), and Malaysian Borneo (C). Intact Forest: pristine old-growth forests. Logged Forest: old-growth forests that have lost their original structure and canopy cover through industrial-scale selective timber harvest at some point since 1973, indicated principally by the construction of logging roads. Scrub: old-growth forests impacted by drought and fire; these burn/drought scars tend to recover slowly. They are vulnerable to further burning and conversion to short vegetation follows; hence they appear as “deforested” in satellite assessments (see also methods). Non Forest since 1973: areas that have been cleared before 1973. Other Non-Forest: areas that have been cleared after 1973, but not converted to scrubs. We recognize that Non Forest since 1973 and Other Non-Forest may include secondary forests: young-growth, forest fallow or agro-forest.

Importantly, however, the study found that Kalimantan has experienced a steep increase in rapid within-five-year conversion since 2005, in line with the global oil palm boom. In Kalimantan, oil palm became the principle contributor of rapid net forest conversion by area (1.2 Mha). And this rapid deforestation continued after 2010 when Indonesia announced a moratorium against further forest clearing for oil palm development. It seems obvious that in Kalimantan at least, the oil palm moratorium is not achieving its objectives.

The good news, at least for Indonesia, is that considerably more oil palm has been developed on land that had been cleared many years previously, than recognized by most opponents of the industry. This is what the conservation community has promoted for decades. Development on degraded lands is a cornerstone of sustainable palm oil development, compatible with certification schemes and recent zero-deforestation pledges. Seen from that perspective, Indonesia seems to have done much better than has been widely assumed – though since 2005 the sharp increase in rapid conversion gives little room for complacency. Despite planting on degraded lands, deforestation remains very high and does not appear to be slowing. We need to do much more to protect Borneo’s forests.
As with many things that are often seen in black and white, there is a significant grey area with lighter and darker hues that few pay attention to or are willing to factor into their rhetoric. But the truth is that oil palm is not always a bad thing. It generates a sizable amount of revenue for people and is very efficient in generating incomes from limited land. Stigmatizing an entire crop is not useful. It’s not the crop that is the problem but where and how we grow it.
The new study is a major step forward in distinguishing between the good, the bad, and the ugly in the palm oil and other plantation industries. It can help the Indonesian government in its goal towards more sustainable management. It can also help those companies with good social and environmental management to different themselves from their less scrupulous competitors.
Article published by Rhett Butler (User) on 2016-09-09.

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