As leaders of ASEAN countries are set to hold a summit in Jakarta this week, activists renewed calls on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to realize the planned forestry moratorium, which has now been delayed for four months, and encourage his ASEAN counterparts to do the same.
In a theatrical press conference, activist Si Bawor Yono (SBY), who acted as President Yudhoyono, announced the start of the forest moratorium with calling all local administrations to stop issuing new permits to convert primary forests and peatland area.
“I announce the launch of a Pancasila-based forest moratorium today,” Association for Community and Ecology-based Law Reform (Huma) advocate Si Bawor Yono told reporters on Tuesday.
Activists, including from the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi), Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) joined the calls for President Yudhoyono to issue a presidential instruction to implement the forest moratorium.
The theatrical press conference was held to express frustration over the slow movement of the Yudhoyono administration in executing his forestry moratorium pledge.
“Indonesia needs to use the ASEAN summit to highlight its commitment to protecting forests and cutting emissions,” Greenpeace advocate Yuyun Indradi said.
He said that the ASEAN summit could be used as momentum to demonstrate Indonesia’s commitment to protecting the environment and dealing with climate change.
Yuyun, who represented Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa at the press conference, said that the forest moratorium was intended to support the welfare of all people, including business players.
Leaders of the 10 ASEAN members will participate in the two-day summit starting Saturday in Jakarta.
The leaders are expected to discuss climate change, among other issues, as part of the third pillar of ASEAN social and culture affairs.
Indonesia, with over 120 million hectares of rainforest, is deemed the regional leader in discussions concerning climate change. Indonesia, the current ASEAN chair, is the first nation in region to declare a commitment to slashing 26 percent greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 using local budget funds, and further reducing emissions by 41 percent by 2050 with the assistance of foreign money.
President Yudhoyono promised to impose the forest moratorium last year after Indonesia signed a US$1 billion letter of intent (LoI) with Norway on climate change.
Under the LoI, the forest moratorium should have been imposed since January this year. President Yudhoyono is also expected to issue a presidential instruction as a legal instrument for all local administrations to stop forest conversions.
ICEL deputy director Giorgio Budi Indrarto admitted that it was the forestry ministry that had hampered the President from implementing the commitment to halt forest conversions. “I am sorry, as it is my office [Forestry Ministry] making the mistakes hampering the forest moratorium,” he said.
President Yudhoyono has empowered a taskforce on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD +), led by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, to prepare the moratorium and draft the presidential instruction.