Indonesia: US Signs $30 Million Grant for Peat Restoration Projects

Vanesha Manuturi Jakarta Globe 1 Feb 16;

Jakarta. The United States, through its foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation, recently pledged a total of $30 million for two projects which aim to help restore and protect Indonesia's peat land areas in light of last year's fire and haze crisis.

The two projects will involve dedicating $17 million to the Berbak Green Prosperity Project, which will restore the hydrology of peat swamp forests in Jambi and reduce peat fires. The projects will also involve a $13 million agreement with three palm oil mills in Riau, the US ambassador to Indonesia, Robert Blake, told a panel discussion at the Climate Festival hosted by the Environment and Forestry Ministry in Jakarta on Monday.

"This is just part of what will be a wider US government effort to support Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency," Blake said in the statement, referring to the government's newly-formed agency tasked with restoring peat lands and other areas affected by last year's forest fires, such as Jambi and Papua.

Blake noted that the Berbak Green project will also involve training sessions for smallholder farmers to increase production, facilitate the advancement of their oil palm certifications and assist them in building a community-based palm oil mill.

The second project, according to Blake, is an agreement with three palm oil mills in Riau for biogas power plants based on palm oil mill effluent, which refers to the waste water discharged from processing crude oil, while also helping independent smallholders in each mill's supply base to gain certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

"This grant alone is expected to produce 3 megawatts of renewable energy from biogas, [an] equivalent amount of electricity to power 9,000 rural homes," Blake said.

The agreement would also capture 117,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to emissions from 785 million kilometers driven annually, as well as "improve the productivity and management practices for 2,000 independent smallholders," Blake added.

Aside from the grants from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the US has also committed to its role in helping Indonesia's climate change agenda through the government agency USAID, which recently launched a new portfolio of projects to address climate change and support low carbon emissions, according to Blake.

The new portfolio includes $47 million for forest conservation and land use planning, $24 million for land use policy and conversation advocacy, $19 million for climate change adaptation, $19 million for clean energy and $5 million for forest research, he added.

"The United States, for its part, has prioritized our partnership to help Indonesia in taking steps to both combat climate change and increase Indonesia’s resilience to climate change," Blake said.

"It is difficult to put a figure on it, but over the past five years, and including these future new projects, the US will have invested approximately $1 billion dollars toward improving the management of the Indonesian environment."


US announces new support for Indonesia’s climate change goals
thejakartapost.com 1 Feb 16;

US Ambassador Robert Blake on Monday announced two new projects aimed at bolstering the work of the newly formed Peatland Restoration Agency during the Environment and Forestry Ministry-sponsored Climate Festival.

He said the two projects, funded under the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s compact with Indonesia, were part of the US government’s strong support for Indonesia’s climate change goals.

“The projects will help restore and protect the country’s peatland areas, which have been threatened by fire in recent years, and when burned are a major contributor to the release of greenhouse gases,” Blake said.

The first initiative, a US$17 million program known as the Berbak Green Prosperity Project, will help to restore the water of peat swamp forests in Jambi. The restoration of this system will help to eventually decrease the prevalence of peat fires in the province.

“The Berbak project will also provide training to increase production of local agriculture and will facilitate smallholder oil palm certifications and community-based palm oil mill effluent renewable energy systems,” the US embassy said in a statement on Monday.

The second initiative is a $13 million agreement with three palm oil mills in Riau Province for biogas power plants utilizing palm oil mill effluent and assisting independent smallholders in each mill’s supply base to become RSPO certified.

This grant alone is expected to produce 3 MW of renewable energy from biogas, the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power 9,000 rural homes; capture 117,000 tCO2e/year, which is equivalent to emissions from vehicles driving 785 million kilometers per year. It is also expected that the project can improve productivity and management practices for 2,000 independent smallholders.

The US embassy said these two programs, both of which will be implemented by an Indonesian agency, the Millennium Challenge Account – Indonesia (MCA-I), were part of the US government’s overall support for Indonesia’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and protect vulnerable peatlands.

Apart from these projects, the US, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has recently launched a new portfolio of projects to address climate change and support Indonesia's goal of reducing emissions by 29 percent by 2030.

According to the embassy, USAID will partner with the Indonesian government to help conserve and sustainably manage 8.4 million hectares of forest and peatland that can serve as carbon sinks.

The embassy further said that USAID would help eliminate 4.5 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and leverage $800 million in private sector investment in clean energy for five million citizens.

“USAID will also help protect local communities from the effects of a changing climate and more extreme weather by assisting national and provincial governments implement effective climate change adaptation strategies.”

The US embassy said USAID had also invested more than $38 million into environmental initiatives in 2015.

“Moving forward, we have a planned investment of $47 million for forest conservation and land use planning, $24 million for land use policy and conservation advocacy, $19 million for global climate change adaptation, $19 for clean energy and $5 million for forest research,” it said.

“These programs are a sign of our commitment to working in partnership with Indonesia to combat the causes of climate change and to help the country achieve its goal of reducing emissions in the future.” (ebf)

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