‘Landscapes approach’ offers a way forward in Indonesia’s emissions and development goals, leading official says

Written by Alison Binney for the Global Landscapes Forum while employed as a science communicator at Econnect Communication

Focusing on carbon alone not enough to tackle emissions, deforestation: development expert

WARSAW, Poland (20 November 2013) — Indonesia’s mission to cut carbon emissions through avoided deforestation can offer lessons to the rest of the world, a top official in the country’s development unit said — not least because focusing on carbon alone often falls on “deaf ears” of local stakeholders.

The country’s current development strategy to grow the economy while reducing carbon emissions has led it naturally to a holistic approach to development, said Heru Prasetyo, Deputy Head of Planning and International Relations in the Indonesian President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight.

This “landscapes approach” seeks to integrate policy for multiple land uses within a landscape and to ensure equitable and sustainable management of that land.

Speaking to an audience of 1,500 global experts at the Global Landscapes Forum, a two-day side event to the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Prasetyo detailed the challenges and opportunities his country has faced since the launch of its REDD+ program, a U.N.-backed mechanism that assigns financial value to carbon stored in trees, creating an incentive to leave them standing.

“Talking about carbon alone is like crying in the deaf ears of our indigenous people,” Prasetyo said. “There is a thinking that money will come from the sky, without [them] really understanding what carbon is.”

Better, he said, to frame the program within a landscapes approach to development that prioritizes minimizing environmental risks while increasing social equity.

Such an approach will require intense collaboration and planning, Prasteyo said, using the country’s supply chain of its most important commodity — rice — to illustrate the promise and complexity of a landscapes approach. On its path from rice paddies to middlemen to millers to government stocks, rice falls under the domain of multiple sectors and three government ministries. “Can you imagine just for this one commodity how complex that is?” he said.

Prasetyo said a greater transfer of global capital, technology and knowledge — including local and traditional knowledge — could help mainstream landscapes approaches worldwide and lead to better development and climate outcomes.

The Global Landscapes Forum represented just such a transfer of knowledge, Prasetyo said at the closing plenary of a conference that brought together government ministers, global experts, policy makers and business leaders to chart a new course toward joint solutions for forests, agriculture and climate change.

“Indonesia is learning very much from this gathering.”

Watch Prasetyo’s speech here:

See his presentation here:

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