The Asia Foundation’s environmental governance program SETAPAK is working to improve forest and land governance in Indonesia. The program promotes good forest and land governance as fundamental to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring that the benefits of natural resources are distributed sustainably and equitably. The program’s first phase ran from 2012 to July 2015, and now continues in its second phase running to March 2020. SETAPAK is funded by the UK Climate Change Unit and is coordinated by the Asia Foundation in Indonesia.
Recognizing that good governance is vital for sustainable forest and land management, the SETAPAK program is working to strengthen government transparency, accountability and law enforcement, and by building civil society capacity and networks. The program takes a collaborative approach to identifying the right individuals, groups and organizations with which to build coalitions, develop
partners’ capacities for targeted advocacy, and provide targeted support through capacity building and technical assistance. SETAPAK works closely with national and sub-national governments, civil society organizations, research institutions, media providers and communities that are concerned about transparent, accountable and participatory governance.
Strengthening Transparency by Accessing Land Permitting and Budget Data
Indonesia’s 2008 Freedom of Information Act provides the Indonesian public with the right to unprecedented access to information from government agencies. SETAPAK is assisting local governments with making information on land use and forestry policies available to the public. The program is also helping civil society partners and local community groups obtain information about spatial planning, permitting processes, revenue collection, and expenditures. Partners are supported in the analysis and presentation of data that greatly strengthens advocacy and enables informed public participation in policy debates.
Enhancing Rule of Law
Effective rule of law means that land use and forest governance laws are enforced impartially and that sanctions are applied in response to any violations. In order to support enhanced rule of law over forest and land governance, SETAPAK is strengthening civil society capacity to conduct research and investigate legal violations, including cases of corruption, forest fires and the issuance of permits that do not follow relevant procedures and laws. Civil society actors are trained in accessing information and in establishing, strengthening and utilizing mechanisms to report violations where they occur. Training has been provided to the justice sector to enhance impartiality on land use and forestry cases, and to law enforcement bodies to prevent land use and forestry infractions. The program has also supported civil society organizations and local communities in bringing cases to court, and in facilitating formal and informal conflict mediation to protect local and indigenous communities’ rights.
Building Civil Society Networks and Capacity
Civil society networks play an important role in building demand for, and instituting, good forest and land governance. The SETAPAK program is fostering collaborations between motivated individuals, groups, organizations and communities – many of which have not previously engaged with forest and land related issues, but who share goals of sustainable development, gender equity and the protection of local and indigenous communities’ rights. By bringing together the right people the program has developed coalitions that successfully drive governance reforms in Indonesia. SETAPAK also provides capacity building and ongoing technical assistance to partner organizations to help improve internal management and programmatic work. By strengthening the capacity for civil society to monitor land use and forestry decision making and participate in policy dialogue, SETAPAK is contributing to a vibrant and sustainable civil society that strives for lasting reform.
Accessing Permit Information to Monitor Indonesia's Forests
A major issue underlying Indonesia’s poor forest governance is a lack of clear, accurate and consistent maps that outline forest cover, land type, and tenure boundaries including local and indigenous communities’ tenure claims. Different government agencies issue permits for forestry, plantation, and mining concessions based on conflicting maps. This results in overlapping permits the approval of concessions in forested areas that contravene environmental laws. SETAPAK partner Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) have used Indonesia’s freedom of information laws to request that the national government release data about logging permits, commercial logging plans, and palm oil plantation concessions across Kalimantan. After initial requests for information were not fulfilled, Forest Watch Indonesia pursued information grievances through the Indonesian central information commission, requesting that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Ministry of Land and Spatial Planning release the public information. After a lengthy process, in May 2015, the commission ruled that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry was obligated to release the request information, and in July 2016, the commission ruled that the Ministry of Land and Spatial Planning release detailed maps of palm oil concessions for all of Kalimantan. These rulings set an important precedent for access to public information regarding land use and forestry permitting in Indonesia. The data obtained will enable FWI and other SETAPAK partners to monitor the timber and palm oil sector’s compliance with permitting documents, environmental laws and community land boundaries.
Through its partners, SETAPAK encourage women’s participation in the policy making processes, increasing women’s involvement, ensuring equal budget allocation, increasing gender sensitiveness, facilitating women to access information, and gaining access and control in land and forest sector.
SETAPAK Working Areas
The SETAPAK program currently works with over 70 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including in National Level: Aceh, Riau, West Sumatera, South Sumatera, West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, Papua and West Papua. These are all areas with abundant forest resources and peatlands that are vulnerable to rapid land use change.