Indonesia’s challenges in including mangrove and peatland in the NDC

by: Richaldo Hariandja

Restoration and prevention of damage to peatland and mangrove ecosystems are two important steps for Indonesia to achieve its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). However, there are still many obstacles that need to be addressed by the government to ensure that the calculations of carbon emission reduction in these two ecosystems are included in the NDC.

In the mangrove ecosystem, for example, the contribution of this coastal ecosystem to climate change mitigation efforts is very high. The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) which in 2018 was merged into the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) said that carbon stocks in mangroves reached 891.70 tons C/ha with a national total reaching 2.89 Tt C.

The abundance of carbon stocks in the mangrove ecosystem can be an attraction in the carbon market mechanism. Especially after article 6 of the Paris Agreement regulates this mechanism was approved at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

To ensure that carbon stocks in mangroves are included in the NDC, the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) mentioned the need for a clear legal umbrella to regulate companies that want to help rehabilitate this coastal ecosystem. BRGM believes that there could be other objectives such as to later sell the conserved carbon in the carbon market.

“We need to check these cases in the regulations, whether it is possible or not,” said Deputy for Planning and Evaluation of BRGM Satyawan Pudyatmoko in a media briefing entitled Peatland Restoration Strategy and Acceleration of Mangrove Rehabilitation in 2022 in Jakarta, Tuesday (19/07).

However, he said, the most important thing is to first fulfil the NDC with other mechanisms before implementing the carbon trading mechanism. The aim is not to disrupt Indonesia’s international commitments.

“There should be no overlapping and carbon claims because of weak regulations,” said Pudyatmoko.

Last year President Joko Widodo signed Presidential Regulation no. 98 of 2021 concerning the Economic Value of Carbon which is prepared to support the achievement of the GHG emission reduction target in Indonesia as stated in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) document for controlling climate change. This Presidential Regulation also regulates the carbon market.

BRGM opened the door for companies’ involvement in rehabilitating mangroves to accelerate their rehabilitation target of 600 thousand hectares of mangrove areas. The targeted areas are tasked to the agency to rehabilitate until 2024, which is impossible to do if they rely solely on the limited State Revenue and Expenditure Budget (APBN).

Apart from companies, Pudyatmoko said that funding for peatland rehabilitation is also planned to come from foreign aid funds, and allocation of watershed rehabilitation funds (DAS) from borrow-to-use forest area permits to Corporate Social Responsibility funds.

For foreign funding, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment (Kemenko Marinves) is the trusted party to source it. So far, several countries and world bodies are said to have collaborated with Indonesia for mangrove rehabilitation.

Among them are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the World Bank. According to the plan, the Government will also voice the issue of mangroves and their funding at the G20 event.

The Main Expert of Deputy I for Investment, Energy and Infrastructure of the Presidential Staff Office (KSP) Trijoko Mohamad Soleh in the same event said he would ask for global commitments in the event. “They will be asked whether it is true or not and to what extent (are commitments of developed countries). Because this is one earth affair. Whatever you contribute, you will contribute globally,” he explained.

In addition to funding, Soleh also mentioned coordination as a challenge in mangrove management. This is because policies often overlap because there are too many authorities in governing one issue.

He said as an example a recent ponds or shrimp farms revitalisation policy that is managed by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) that is considered to be contrary to the spirit of mangrove rehabilitation. “That’s because mangroves are managed by many institutions. According to a World Bank study, there are 20 institutions in Indonesia that manage mangroves,” said Pudyatmoko.

Meanwhile, the Deputy for Climate Change and Disaster Management at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs Kus Prisetiahadi called this condition a challenge. He said there must be a division of tasks that can make all agencies synergise.

Based on the main tasks and functions, he said, the management of mangroves in forest areas is under the authority of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Meanwhile KKP, Local Government and BRGM have the authority to mangrove outside the forest area.

“A lot of friction occurs outside the forest area, moreover there are institutions from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry who also manage forest areas. We must work together so that this tangle becomes our strength,” said Prisetiahadi.

Collaboration with scientists

There are other problems related to carbon management that are also encountered in peatland ecosystems. The Director General of Pollution and Environmental Damage Control at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Sigit Reliantoro in the media briefing highlighted the challenges in the current government’s methodology for calculating carbon in peat ecosystems before accepted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

So far, he said, the IPCC has not applied the same method of calculating CO2 between wetland ecosystems rewetting in the subtropics and efforts to wetting peatlands in tropical climates. According to him, the IPCC approach is unfair.

Reliantoro said, technically the method used by the IPCC in tropical climate, that is with the measurement using groundwater table subsidence is much more complicated. According to him, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is exploring cooperation with several scientists from Germany, the Netherlands and from Australia to find a calculation method that is more suitable for the tropics.

Through this collaboration with scientists, the government intends to publish many scientific journal articles related to how the calculations is carried out. This will make it easier to verify with the IPCC later.

In fact, said Reliantoro, the government already has a lot of data on measuring carbon storage from peat restoration actions. In 2020 alone, Sigit said that he had succeeded in reducing emissions to 366,21,306.91 tons of CO2 equivalent.

This figure was obtained from emission reductions in 3,643,799.26 hectares of concession land amounting to 364,754,799.41 tons of CO2 equivalent and from 46,192.7 hectares of community land with a total emission of 1,463,507.50 CO2 equivalent.

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