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Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in ‘era of SDGs’

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The public and private sectors must join forces to finance blue carbon, in order to reap social, environmental and economic returns from the ecosystems. 

The Blue Carbon Summit on July 16-17 in Jakarta, Indonesia, clarified the importance of learning and disseminating more about coastal ecosystems. During the event, one of the discussion forums honed in on these at-risk ecosystems, looking in particular at the payment mechanisms needed to keep blue carbon intact.

Financing blue carbon development addressed how to best use the available funding; no matter what kind of payments are on offer, the discussion explored why blue carbon should be accounted for among stakeholders.

Medrilzam, Director for Environmental Affairs at Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), highlighted the importance of incorporating blue carbon into efforts to achieve to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), describing the current environment as “the era of SDGs”.

Watch: Financing blue carbon development

SDG 13 on climate action, he said, was the anchor for several other goals, including sustainable cities and communities; life below water; and life on land. Bappenas had never before included blue carbon as an aspect of discussions at national or regional levels, he explained, but is now factoring it in when measuring emission reductions, as Indonesia moves towards its targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 26% by 2020 and 29% by 2030.

In particular, he highlighted Bappenas’ low carbon development plan, a new development platform aimed at sustaining economic and social growth through low GHG emissions and minimizing the exploitation of natural resources. However, he stressed the need to consider interlinkages, saying that blue carbon related to the economy or the population, and vice versa.

“We cannot just rely on government financing. We know we have limited capacity,” he said, adding that development agencies needed to be imaginative about dealing with emerging forms of innovative finance.

Felia Salim, from the Board of Directors at &Green Fund and Sail Ventures, explained that &Green Fund related to land use, but its model could be replicated for blue carbon by looking at the concept of blended finance.

Mangroves grow along the water’s edge in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“We need to understand, when we talk about finance, that this is really about linking it to the market,” she said. “We are trying to correct the market forces.”

In terms of blended finance, Salim suggested that the conventional financial sector may not yet fully understand how to mitigate risks related to blue carbon, and therefore has a low appetite for them. Thus, it is all about “absorbing some of the risks that cannot be absorbed by the conventional financial sector.”

“This is the blended part. It’s really sharing the risk,” she said. “Basically the public fund is taking up a portion of the risk — that’s the basic principle of blended finance.”

According to Salim, climate risk and strategy must be incorporated into planning, and such strategies should not only account for economic return, but also environmental returns such as the number of hectares of forest that have been conserved, and social inclusion factors such as jobs created or improvements for smallholder suppliers.

“If you don’t involve stakeholders in the area, it won’t be sustainable,” she stressed, adding that companies which had seriously implemented environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk into their strategies have shown to be performing better as a result.

“The social and environmental returns make economic sense,” she said, “because what you want is […] business that is sustainable, that lasts,” reiterating that &Green Fund is trying to finance a gap that the conventional financial sector cannot absorb.

Read also: Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Mangroves and sandbanks protect the shore in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

Ecotourism is another route to preserving nature while also providing incomes, as outlined by Bustar Maitar, Director of Kurabesi Nusantara Indonesia, a social enterprise offering liveaboard diving tours in eastern Indonesia.

Despite hundreds of comparable boats operating in the archipelago, Maitar said only 12 were Indonesian owned, representing a big growth opportunity for Indonesian investment.

Continuing the investment conversation, Fitrian Adriansyah, chairman of the executive board of IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative) Indonesia, discussed how IDH invests in collaboration with the private sector.

“We believe sustainable production and trade can transform markets for the benefit of people and the planet,” he said. There is a need to promote greater understanding between the public and private sectors, he added, which “cannot be done if we cannot bridge the gap in terms of understanding the risk when it comes to investment in blue carbon.”

IDH, which invests in commodities, including aquaculture and mangroves, purports to seek impact rather than financial return. Responding to concerns that aquaculture is seen as an “enemy” of blue carbon efforts, Adriansyah said IDH’s criteria in selecting investment opportunities comprised improved productivity; protecting remaining forests; and the inclusion of villagers, smallholders or the community.

Finally, Muhammad Senang Semibiring, a Senior Advisor to the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (KEHATI), outlined private financing through a community-based coastal carbon corridor initiative. KEHATI, the first and largest biodiversity conservation trust fund in Indonesia, was begun 25 years ago and makes use of public-private partnerships toward the achievement of SDG 17.

By investing in natural solutions, many elements of coastal areas can be protected. There can be economic benefits in doing so, including for the lives of community members. In identifying the challenges facing the financing of blue carbon initiatives, stakeholders can assess these returns and – as evidenced by the discussions at the Blue Carbon Summit – achieve social and economic benefits as well as environmental advantages.

Read also: Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 

  • Home
  • Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in 'era of SDGs'

Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in ‘era of SDGs’

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The public and private sectors must join forces to finance blue carbon, in order to reap social, environmental and economic returns from the ecosystems. 

The Blue Carbon Summit on July 16-17 in Jakarta, Indonesia, clarified the importance of learning and disseminating more about coastal ecosystems. During the event, one of the discussion forums honed in on these at-risk ecosystems, looking in particular at the payment mechanisms needed to keep blue carbon intact.

Financing blue carbon development addressed how to best use the available funding; no matter what kind of payments are on offer, the discussion explored why blue carbon should be accounted for among stakeholders.

Medrilzam, Director for Environmental Affairs at Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), highlighted the importance of incorporating blue carbon into efforts to achieve to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), describing the current environment as “the era of SDGs”.

Watch: Financing blue carbon development

SDG 13 on climate action, he said, was the anchor for several other goals, including sustainable cities and communities; life below water; and life on land. Bappenas had never before included blue carbon as an aspect of discussions at national or regional levels, he explained, but is now factoring it in when measuring emission reductions, as Indonesia moves towards its targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 26% by 2020 and 29% by 2030.

In particular, he highlighted Bappenas’ low carbon development plan, a new development platform aimed at sustaining economic and social growth through low GHG emissions and minimizing the exploitation of natural resources. However, he stressed the need to consider interlinkages, saying that blue carbon related to the economy or the population, and vice versa.

“We cannot just rely on government financing. We know we have limited capacity,” he said, adding that development agencies needed to be imaginative about dealing with emerging forms of innovative finance.

Felia Salim, from the Board of Directors at &Green Fund and Sail Ventures, explained that &Green Fund related to land use, but its model could be replicated for blue carbon by looking at the concept of blended finance.

Mangroves grow along the water’s edge in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“We need to understand, when we talk about finance, that this is really about linking it to the market,” she said. “We are trying to correct the market forces.”

In terms of blended finance, Salim suggested that the conventional financial sector may not yet fully understand how to mitigate risks related to blue carbon, and therefore has a low appetite for them. Thus, it is all about “absorbing some of the risks that cannot be absorbed by the conventional financial sector.”

“This is the blended part. It’s really sharing the risk,” she said. “Basically the public fund is taking up a portion of the risk — that’s the basic principle of blended finance.”

According to Salim, climate risk and strategy must be incorporated into planning, and such strategies should not only account for economic return, but also environmental returns such as the number of hectares of forest that have been conserved, and social inclusion factors such as jobs created or improvements for smallholder suppliers.

“If you don’t involve stakeholders in the area, it won’t be sustainable,” she stressed, adding that companies which had seriously implemented environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk into their strategies have shown to be performing better as a result.

“The social and environmental returns make economic sense,” she said, “because what you want is […] business that is sustainable, that lasts,” reiterating that &Green Fund is trying to finance a gap that the conventional financial sector cannot absorb.

Read also: Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Mangroves and sandbanks protect the shore in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

Ecotourism is another route to preserving nature while also providing incomes, as outlined by Bustar Maitar, Director of Kurabesi Nusantara Indonesia, a social enterprise offering liveaboard diving tours in eastern Indonesia.

Despite hundreds of comparable boats operating in the archipelago, Maitar said only 12 were Indonesian owned, representing a big growth opportunity for Indonesian investment.

Continuing the investment conversation, Fitrian Adriansyah, chairman of the executive board of IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative) Indonesia, discussed how IDH invests in collaboration with the private sector.

“We believe sustainable production and trade can transform markets for the benefit of people and the planet,” he said. There is a need to promote greater understanding between the public and private sectors, he added, which “cannot be done if we cannot bridge the gap in terms of understanding the risk when it comes to investment in blue carbon.”

IDH, which invests in commodities, including aquaculture and mangroves, purports to seek impact rather than financial return. Responding to concerns that aquaculture is seen as an “enemy” of blue carbon efforts, Adriansyah said IDH’s criteria in selecting investment opportunities comprised improved productivity; protecting remaining forests; and the inclusion of villagers, smallholders or the community.

Finally, Muhammad Senang Semibiring, a Senior Advisor to the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (KEHATI), outlined private financing through a community-based coastal carbon corridor initiative. KEHATI, the first and largest biodiversity conservation trust fund in Indonesia, was begun 25 years ago and makes use of public-private partnerships toward the achievement of SDG 17.

By investing in natural solutions, many elements of coastal areas can be protected. There can be economic benefits in doing so, including for the lives of community members. In identifying the challenges facing the financing of blue carbon initiatives, stakeholders can assess these returns and – as evidenced by the discussions at the Blue Carbon Summit – achieve social and economic benefits as well as environmental advantages.

Read also: Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 

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  • Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

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Daniel Murdiyarso, CIFOR Principal Scientist and IPB professor, speaks during the opening plenary of the Blue Carbon Summit. Photo by AIPI

Failing to properly manage “blue carbon” ecosystems could result in biodiversity losses, pronounced climate change effects and negative impacts on people’s livelihoods, and could even affect the internet. 

The Blue Carbon Summit held on July 17-18 in Jakarta, Indonesia, covered everything from the most well-known blue carbon ecosystems of mangroves and seagrass to coral reefs, the fish industry, ecotourism, plastic waste, shipping emissions and offshore mining.

Over two days, scientists, government, the private sector, media and likeminded community members came together for discussions that called for coordinated efforts to address issues related to blue carbon.

Blue carbon is that which is stored in coastal ecosystems, in contrast to “green carbon” stored in plants, trees and soil. In comparison to the attention paid to the carbon sequestered by forests, blue carbon has thus far remained relatively under the radar – but this belies its importance.

“We are here to correct an imbalance,” said Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), during the summit opening, referring to the global focus on issues such as deforestation and greenhouse gases. “What is happening in coastal areas seems a bit forgotten. It’s a great time for us to bring that to the fore.”

Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, where vital infrastructure can also be found worldwide, Nasi explained, underscoring the importance of both scientists and policymakers understanding how the ecosystems work and how they can be restored. “Coastal ecosystems are fundamental for the survival of the species, for ecosystem services, for biodiversity, and for blue carbon,” he added.

“If we don’t do anything about these coastal areas, about blue carbon ecosystems, what is going to happen to us?” Nasi asked, pointing out that aside from people’s livelihoods and biodiversity in coastal areas being at stake, major infrastructure such as fiber-optic cables is often below sea level and could theoretically end up under water. “So if we don’t do something, we may also lose some part of the internet.”

Read also: Coastal blue carbon from planted mangroves holds promise

Policymakers and scientific experts came together to discuss blue carbon’s potential to mitigate climate change and enhance sustainable economic development during the summit. Photo by AIPI

“We think that this is the right time to work on this topic because of a critical mass already sharing their knowledge, already having results,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, Principal Scientist at CIFOR, which coorganized the summit, and professor in the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology at Bogor Agricultural University (IPB).

“So we want to sit together and see how this can be provided for the government, to make a science-based recommendation related to blue carbon.”

Murdiyarso expressed his hope that findings from the summit could be mainstreamed into the public agenda and connected to the Paris agreement on climate change, especially given blue carbon’s clear links to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read also: Focus on mangroves: Blue carbon science for sustainable development

Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI) President Satrio Sumantri Brodjonegoro concurred, saying that the discussions were expected to identify gaps hindering the mainstreaming of blue carbon in the national agenda and to pave the way for blue carbon development in Indonesia. As the world’s largest archipelago, with 99,000 kilometers of coastline, the country is well-placed to not only set its own path but also to set a global example.

After the opening plenary on Day 1, subplenary sessions looked at the roles of non-state actors and the donor community. Following that, a series of parallel discussion forums considered the fishing industry, marine tourism and the shipping industry, governance systems, financing blue carbon development, hydrodynamic and sustainable coastal resources, and seagrass and climate change.

Day 2 began with a keynote speech from Indonesia’s Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, before subplenary sessions on international partnerships and a high-level forum of government representatives. The day was rounded out with parallel discussion forums on subsidence, sedimentation and sea-level rises, and mangroves and climate.

The discussions from the summit are expected to be developed into a white paper, set to cover the following points.

  • Blue carbon in both open ocean and coastal ecosystems, including mangroves and seagrasses, is important for climate change mitigation because of its significant carbon storage capacity compared with terrestrial ecosystems. These ecosystems also offer significant climate change adaptation opportunities, especially in helping coastal regions keep pace with sea level rise.
  • Blue carbon ecosystems provide numerous services to people and now is the time to consider their role in developing alternative livelihoods. Sustainable ecotourism, fisheries and shellfish farming are all industries that generate direct economic benefits while protecting intact mangroves.
  • Conservation and restoration are essential components of the blue carbon economy
  • Implementation of a blue carbon economy needs to take into consideration more than just carbon, and should encompass economic sectors such as fisheries, ecotourism, transportation and shipping.
  • Due to complex history and geography, governance structures and institutionalizing the blue carbon economy have posed considerable challenges in the past.
  • Mechanisms to finance the blue carbon economy must reflect the unique benefits and challenges of blue carbon and help overcome institutional biases.
  • The participation of local communities is essential to establishing the blue carbon economy
  • While the level of understanding of blue carbon is sufficient, capacity development will require stakeholders to be better connected.
  • To put blue carbon on national and global agendas, there must be a stronger coalition within and between government agencies to engage a wider network of stakeholders.
  • Partnerships are key to the success of achieving national and global objectives and goals. Learning lessons from partners is cost effective and therefore should be encouraged, while opportunities for greater cooperation should be enhanced.
A mangrove forest thrives in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“Improved policies and implementation of blue carbon initiatives in the context of addressing climate change certainly cannot be done by one country. This effort requires coordination and engagement of all elements of development, at the national and regional levels – with the support of all parties including governments, private sector, communities as well as national and international development partners,” Gellwynn Yusuf, representing Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), said in closing the event.

This could be a mechanism for Indonesia to achieve SDGs, particularly by meeting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while also improving economic factors. While acknowledging that coordination among agencies was important, and that some financing challenges remained to be solved, Yusuf called on the international community to support Indonesia’s efforts in making blue carbon a key policy for combating the negative impacts of climate change.

“As the global leader in blue carbon ecosystems, Indonesia has an opportunity to demonstrate strong leadership and set the direction internationally for other countries,” he said.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


The Blue Carbon Summit was organized by AIPI, CIFOR, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). 

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Daniel Murdiyarso, CIFOR Principal Scientist and IPB professor, speaks during the opening plenary of the Blue Carbon Summit. Photo by AIPI

Failing to properly manage “blue carbon” ecosystems could result in biodiversity losses, pronounced climate change effects and negative impacts on people’s livelihoods, and could even affect the internet. 

The Blue Carbon Summit held on July 17-18 in Jakarta, Indonesia, covered everything from the most well-known blue carbon ecosystems of mangroves and seagrass to coral reefs, the fish industry, ecotourism, plastic waste, shipping emissions and offshore mining.

Over two days, scientists, government, the private sector, media and likeminded community members came together for discussions that called for coordinated efforts to address issues related to blue carbon.

Blue carbon is that which is stored in coastal ecosystems, in contrast to “green carbon” stored in plants, trees and soil. In comparison to the attention paid to the carbon sequestered by forests, blue carbon has thus far remained relatively under the radar – but this belies its importance.

“We are here to correct an imbalance,” said Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), during the summit opening, referring to the global focus on issues such as deforestation and greenhouse gases. “What is happening in coastal areas seems a bit forgotten. It’s a great time for us to bring that to the fore.”

Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, where vital infrastructure can also be found worldwide, Nasi explained, underscoring the importance of both scientists and policymakers understanding how the ecosystems work and how they can be restored. “Coastal ecosystems are fundamental for the survival of the species, for ecosystem services, for biodiversity, and for blue carbon,” he added.

“If we don’t do anything about these coastal areas, about blue carbon ecosystems, what is going to happen to us?” Nasi asked, pointing out that aside from people’s livelihoods and biodiversity in coastal areas being at stake, major infrastructure such as fiber-optic cables is often below sea level and could theoretically end up under water. “So if we don’t do something, we may also lose some part of the internet.”

Read also: Coastal blue carbon from planted mangroves holds promise

Policymakers and scientific experts came together to discuss blue carbon’s potential to mitigate climate change and enhance sustainable economic development during the summit. Photo by AIPI

“We think that this is the right time to work on this topic because of a critical mass already sharing their knowledge, already having results,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, Principal Scientist at CIFOR, which coorganized the summit, and professor in the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology at Bogor Agricultural University (IPB).

“So we want to sit together and see how this can be provided for the government, to make a science-based recommendation related to blue carbon.”

Murdiyarso expressed his hope that findings from the summit could be mainstreamed into the public agenda and connected to the Paris agreement on climate change, especially given blue carbon’s clear links to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read also: Focus on mangroves: Blue carbon science for sustainable development

Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI) President Satrio Sumantri Brodjonegoro concurred, saying that the discussions were expected to identify gaps hindering the mainstreaming of blue carbon in the national agenda and to pave the way for blue carbon development in Indonesia. As the world’s largest archipelago, with 99,000 kilometers of coastline, the country is well-placed to not only set its own path but also to set a global example.

After the opening plenary on Day 1, subplenary sessions looked at the roles of non-state actors and the donor community. Following that, a series of parallel discussion forums considered the fishing industry, marine tourism and the shipping industry, governance systems, financing blue carbon development, hydrodynamic and sustainable coastal resources, and seagrass and climate change.

Day 2 began with a keynote speech from Indonesia’s Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, before subplenary sessions on international partnerships and a high-level forum of government representatives. The day was rounded out with parallel discussion forums on subsidence, sedimentation and sea-level rises, and mangroves and climate.

The discussions from the summit are expected to be developed into a white paper, set to cover the following points.

  • Blue carbon in both open ocean and coastal ecosystems, including mangroves and seagrasses, is important for climate change mitigation because of its significant carbon storage capacity compared with terrestrial ecosystems. These ecosystems also offer significant climate change adaptation opportunities, especially in helping coastal regions keep pace with sea level rise.
  • Blue carbon ecosystems provide numerous services to people and now is the time to consider their role in developing alternative livelihoods. Sustainable ecotourism, fisheries and shellfish farming are all industries that generate direct economic benefits while protecting intact mangroves.
  • Conservation and restoration are essential components of the blue carbon economy
  • Implementation of a blue carbon economy needs to take into consideration more than just carbon, and should encompass economic sectors such as fisheries, ecotourism, transportation and shipping.
  • Due to complex history and geography, governance structures and institutionalizing the blue carbon economy have posed considerable challenges in the past.
  • Mechanisms to finance the blue carbon economy must reflect the unique benefits and challenges of blue carbon and help overcome institutional biases.
  • The participation of local communities is essential to establishing the blue carbon economy
  • While the level of understanding of blue carbon is sufficient, capacity development will require stakeholders to be better connected.
  • To put blue carbon on national and global agendas, there must be a stronger coalition within and between government agencies to engage a wider network of stakeholders.
  • Partnerships are key to the success of achieving national and global objectives and goals. Learning lessons from partners is cost effective and therefore should be encouraged, while opportunities for greater cooperation should be enhanced.
A mangrove forest thrives in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“Improved policies and implementation of blue carbon initiatives in the context of addressing climate change certainly cannot be done by one country. This effort requires coordination and engagement of all elements of development, at the national and regional levels – with the support of all parties including governments, private sector, communities as well as national and international development partners,” Gellwynn Yusuf, representing Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), said in closing the event.

This could be a mechanism for Indonesia to achieve SDGs, particularly by meeting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while also improving economic factors. While acknowledging that coordination among agencies was important, and that some financing challenges remained to be solved, Yusuf called on the international community to support Indonesia’s efforts in making blue carbon a key policy for combating the negative impacts of climate change.

“As the global leader in blue carbon ecosystems, Indonesia has an opportunity to demonstrate strong leadership and set the direction internationally for other countries,” he said.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


The Blue Carbon Summit was organized by AIPI, CIFOR, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). 

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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Daniel Murdiyarso talks about the interaction between land and oceans

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  • Calls for greater momentum on forest initiatives, from REDD+ to ecotourism, at APRS 2018

Calls for greater momentum on forest initiatives, from REDD+ to ecotourism, at APRS 2018

Tribudi Syukur village in Lampung, Indonesia, is seen from above. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR
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Tribudi Syukur village in Lampung, Indonesia, is seen from above. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR

Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region on earth, and home to the world’s three largest cities. Yet it also contains 740 million hectares of forests, accounting for 26 percent of the region’s land area and 18 percent of forest cover globally.

More than 450 million people depend on these forests for their livelihoods.

Through the theme “Protecting forests and people, supporting economic growth,” the third Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS) examined how the region’s economic and social development can better integrate with climate change and carbon emissions reduction goals.

Following the first APRS held in Sydney in 2014 and the second in Brunei Darussalam in 2016, this year’s was the largest yet, held in the Javanese cultural center of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. From April 23–25, more than 1,200 representatives from academia, civil society, business, government and research institutions gathered for panels, discussions, workshops and field trips.

Regional leaders formed the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership (APRP) and its biannual Summit to help realize the global goal of ending rainforest loss by 2030, as well as reduce poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), carbon emissions through REDD+, and climate change through the Paris Agreement – as discussed in the Summit’s first day of high-level panels.

Read also: FTA at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit

“Since the summit in Brunei, I am happy to see substantial progress on REDD+ both regionally and globally,” said Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg in the opening ceremony. “We need to maintain this momentum and step up the pace of change if we are going to protect our forests and our people while securing economic growth.”

As the host country – supported the Australian Government, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) – Indonesia highlighted its recent environmental achievements.

“In the last three years, we have managed to reduce the [annual] deforestation rate from 1.09 million hectares to 610,000 hectares, and 480,000 million hectares in 2017,” said Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya.

“We realize that forests are a major contributor to carbon emissions, mainly due to forest fires – especially in peatlands. Forests represent 18% of our national emissions reduction targets and are expected to contribute to over half of our [Paris Agreement] targets.”

CIFOR’s Daniel Murdiyarso speaks during a session on restoration and sustainable management of peatlands at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit 2018. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Minister Nurbaya also pointed to community and social forestry as a major theme of the Summit. Indonesia has set a target to allocate some 12.7 million hectares of land for use by communities partaking in five social forestry schemes. Nurbaya said she hopes other countries are similarly prioritizing community-based forestry management.

Community forestry was one of the sub-themes highlighted in the second day’s expert panels, alongside restoration and sustainable management of peatlands, mangroves and blue carbon, ecotourism and conservation of biodiversity, production forests, and forest finance, investment and trade. Issues in focus are detailed below.

PRIVATE FINANCE

Speakers throughout the Summit echoed the need for increased private-sector support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and policies that help enable this.

Companies need more incentives – and assurance of profitability – if they are to balance their business activities with ecological protection and support to local communities. Similarly, there needs to be proof of returns in order to increase private investment in environmental efforts.

The commitment of USD 500 million by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was highlighted as a best-practice example. Announced in May 2017, the pledge is now being used to back select business proposals that creatively address climate change.

Juan Chang, a GCF senior specialist in forest and land use and panel speaker at the Summit, said the Fund’s forestry and land use portfolio of 10 funded projects around the world so far includes 2 REDD+ projects.

Within GCF’s portfolio as a whole, around a third of its USD 3.7 billion goes to projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

REDD+ AND FORESTS

This year’s APRS comes roughly a decade after the UNFCCC COP13 in Bali gave birth to REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), an initiative that – much as its name says – seeks to lower global carbon emissions by preserving tropical forests.

As its goals broadened to give more attention to sustainable forest management and carbon stocks, REDD became REDD+, which now has numerous development and research projects running throughout the region.

Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry, HE Siti Nurbaya, opens the 3rd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Around 2 billion hectares of Asia-Pacific forests are degraded, and research experts expressed that production forests – such as those used for bioenergy – hold new opportunities for REDD+ implementation.

Contrasting this, however, was the difficulty some countries’ delegates said they’re facing in setting the many pieces in place required to uphold such a detailed effort as REDD+.

While Indonesia and Papua New Guinea now have much of the REDD+ architecture up and running, both countries have met roadblocks in implementing emissions measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems as well as results-based payments mechanisms.

Emma Rachmawaty, Director of Climate Change at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said, “We are in the process of establishing a financial institution to manage financing for REDD+. [Until then] we cannot implement results-based payments for REDD+.”

Danae Maniatis from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) analogized REDD+ framework construction with that of a building.

“Pillars for REDD+ need to be really strong at the readiness phase,” she said. “If you have a house that has a roof but nothing else, would you use it? No. You need it to be functional. So, the challenge that we face is: how do you take these elements and make them functional?”

Read also: Social forestry impacts local livelihoods in Indonesia

NEW WAYS TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE

Mangroves and blue carbon – carbon captured and stored in oceans and coastal areas – have been hot topics of late.

“There is one ecosystem that has been close to my heart for a long time, that encompasses all the issues you can think of for forests: peatlands and mangroves,” said CIFOR Director General Dr. Robert Nasi.

“Although they represent a small percentage of forests, they are probably the richest and most carbon-rich ecosystems in the world – and the most threatened. I can only encourage and commend Indonesia for all the efforts they’re doing in terms of restoring and rehabilitating peatlands and mangroves.”

Comparatively little research has been done on these ecosystems so far. But the vast carbon sinks of Indonesia’s mangroves – the largest in the world, spanning 3.5 million hectares – have begun to make their way onto the archipelago’s national agenda, potentially contributing to the country’s commitments to the Paris Agreement and becoming grounds for financial support to local communities through payment for ecosystem services (PES).

Another way to link local communities to financial institutions and global markets? Ecotourism – responsible recreational activities that encourage conservation and preserve biodiversity.

Panelists called for philanthropic foundations and development organizations to give this growing sector more attention. In the realm of sustainable development business ventures, ecotourism is an on-the-ground way to aid land rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation while still turning a profit – however small that profit may be.

This echoed Dr. Nasi’s opening ceremony statement that the Asia-Pacific region is “a region of superlatives and a region of many contrasts,” with a vast array of businesses, landscapes, socioeconomic levels and governments.

Yet, everyone attending the summit “comes together for one reason: because forests matter.”

By Nabiha Shahab, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.


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