Turning up in Tanah Papua and Maluku Islands and feeling the day-to-day community life are the major prerequisite before formulating policy for the eastern regions of Indonesia. “We should get the feeling of what the indigenous people feel first. From that compassion, it is materialized into concrete action. Do not let the indigenous people say that we do not have compassion,” said Bustar Maitar, the EcoNusa CEO, in the EcoNusa Outlook 2022, on Thursday 10 February 2022.
Entitled Rasa Timur (literally sense, feel of east), the EcoNusa Outlook 2022 intended to perceive the various threats and opportunities along 2022. In Tanah Papua and Maluku Island, the indigenous community has conserved and made use of nature from generation to generation.
“We want to build the similar sense with all Indonesian and global peoples. In the Outlook 2022 today, we want to generate that kind of sense to support each other in protecting forests, ocean, and nature in the eastern of Indonesia as the last frontiers for our climate which will later uphold for our life to come,” said Bustar.
Bustar said that EcoNusa wishes to share the story of compassion that happens to the community so as to perceive Tanah Papua and Maluku Island with different perspective. One of the ‘approach of rasa’ examples was seen from Sorong Regent Johny Kamuru when he shared his experience on the event.
Johny started his career as the Head of Sayosa District in 1998 to 2003. Sayosa District is a remote area without decent transportation access. To listen and see directly what happens to the community at the nearest village, Johny should take a nine-hour walk. “I saw big merbau trees. They were so beautiful. We heard birds chirping. But now those trees are just a story,” said Johny.
The joy of the dense merbau trees and chirping birds became an indelible memory to Johny. Thus, Johny revoked location and business permits of four palm oil plantation companies expanding 165,702 hectares.
After the revocation, the license evaluation team of palm oil plantation handed over the recommendation to West Papua Governor. Three companies, PT Sorong Agro Sawitindo, PT Papua Lestari Abadi, dan PT Inti Kebun Lestari, took legal actions against the license revocation. In the verdict, the judges of Jayapura Administrative Court turned down all charges. This gave good news to the indigenous peoples in Sorong Regency.
“Position is only once. There are license reviews and some companies that need improvement. For the reason, to defend the people is my best chance. Otherwise, I will not do any good thing to my people,” Johny added.
The victory of indigenous people gave new hope for equal and sustainable natural resource management. Indigenous community gets closer opportunity to manage their customary land. Moreover, National Geographic recorded that the license revocation of 12 palm oil companies was deemed one of the events that gives hope amidst the climate crisis.
“They (the indigenous people) rely on forests. They cannot afford to buy fish at the market, but they go into the forests to catch wild boar, tree kangaroo (lau-lau), then they are back. But if there is no more forest left, (the people will lose source of livelihood) for good,” he said.
Furthermore, the existence of forest also plays its role to cope with climate change. The study conducted by the National Development Planning Ministry (Bappenas) focusing on the potential economic losses in Indonesia due to climate change shows that Indonesia is potentially to suffer from Rp 544 trillion worth economic losses in 2020-2024 due to climate change without any policy intervention or business as usual.
Meanwhile, Global Risk Report 2022 from the World Economic Forum, recently published in Geneva, Swiss, in mid-January, said that environment, climate crisis, economy, health related to Covid-19 pandemic and its social and political impact are among issues that are deemed serious threats.
Based on the report, there are three long term threats concerning with environmental and social impacts. Those three here are climate action failure, extreme weather, and biodiversity losses. Climate action failure is deemed the most real threat which will affect human and earth in the upcoming decade.
Bappenas’ Deputy for Economic Affairs Amalia Adininggar Widyasanti, Sorong Regent Johny Kamuru, Ministry of Education and Culture’s Director for God and Indigenous People Belief Sjamsul Hadi, Sorong Regency’s Head for Capital Investment and Licensing Office Salmon Samori, Indonesian Protestant Church of Papua Betseba Reyna Tuasela, and Yulince Zonggonau attended EcoNusa Outlook 2022 in Jakarta were among the attendances. The event was also participated by more than 140 virtual audiences across Indonesia.
Editor: Leo Wahyudi & Nur Alfiyah