US grants Indonesia $250m for ambitious environmental scheme

Liza Yosephine, 17 Dec 15;

The US government, through its development aid agency, granted US$250 million to Indonesia to fund an ambitious long-term partnership as Indonesia plays a pivotal global role in tackling environmental problems.

US Ambassador Robert Blake said on Wednesday evening that the program in Indonesia conducted by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was the largest in the world.

“Building on the momentum of the recently held COP21 in Paris, we want to achieve a sustainable natural resource management in Indonesia through this partnership,” said Blake during an event at his official residence in Jakarta.

Blake said that the projects under this initiative were going to address challenges in several different areas, like forestry and land use, marine conservation and fisheries management, clean energy expansion, access to water and sanitation services, adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction.

The US would be working with the Indonesian government at both national and local levels and in the private sector, as well as with civic societies, he added.

A breakdown of the funds sees the largest amount allocated to the forestry sector with a total amount of $70 million dedicated to achieving a more sustainable land use management to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Marine and fisheries management, as well as water and sanitation programs, are the next two sectors with the highest amount of fund allocation, each receiving $40 million respectively.

Furthermore, as much as $20 million will be invested in renewable energy development and $19 million will be used for projects to assist the government and local communities in adapting to climate change.

The remaining $60 million will be used to fund partnerships that will be spearheaded by USAID, such as higher education initiatives, science and technology and other partnerships of various kinds that will help to achieve all the different goals.

Some of the goals that have been set include the sustainable management of 8.4 million hectares of forest and peatland and the reduction of deforestation rates by 41 percent in Aceh, Kalimantan and Papua.

Both governments will work with local communities to focus on maintaining biological diversity and make them less vulnerable to fires.

The program also aims to protect 6 million hectares of Indonesia’s marine ecosystem, which is important for Indonesians who continue to fish and derive sustainable livelihoods from the marine ecosystems, according to Blake.

There is also the goal to deliver clean water and sanitation services to 1.5 million of Indonesia’s poorest citizens.

The forestry and water resources conservation director at the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), Basah Hernowo, said this project was part of the 2015-2019 National Mid-Term Development Plan to boost economic development in Aceh, Central Kalimantan, Papua, South Sulawesi and East Java.

In the partnership, he said USAID would manage the funds while Bappenas would be responsible to facilitate the collaboration between the government and the local communities through initiatives such as the Forest Management Unit to explore partnerships.

USAID Indonesia director Andrew Sisson said that the agency would also work with other ministries, local administrations and non-governmental sectors to design various projects to help reach the environmental goals.

“Sustainable natural resource management is so important to protect the livelihoods and economic welfare of millions of families and future generations,” he said.

Sisson pointed out the importance of the Indonesian government’s leadership, adding that international partners were present to give support to help Indonesia manage its environmental issues. (rin)(+)

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