Tropical Forest Alliance 2020:
Promoting Sustainability and Productivity in the Palm Oil and Pulp & Paper Sectors Workshop
Shangri-La Hotel – Jakarta, 27 June 2013
Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of Indonesia’s Archipelago (AMAN – Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara)
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
Honorable President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and peoples of the Republic of Indonesia
Ambassadors and representatives of governments, private sectors, and civil society
First, let me convey greetings from indigenous peoples of the archipelago to you all. From the people of Dayak Benuaq in East Kalimantan, from the people of Barisan Rakyat Penunggu in North Sumatra, from the people of Mentawai in West Sumatra, from the Toraja People in South Sulawesi, the Malind people in Papua. From many of us who wish you all a blessed and successful meeting.
As secretary general of AMAN, I am in constant communication with our members, Indigenous Peoples, throughout the archipelago. Our memberskeep track of my activities, where I am speaking and to whom, what conferences, what issues I am bringing, as we try to keep community members updated on any development and discussions relevant to us, indigenous peoples, and our forests and seas.
So it is not a surprise that for today, they want me to give to you a particular message loudly and clearly.
In the words of Mr. Asuy, leader of Muara Tae Dayak Benuaq in East Kalimantan, the message is:
“Despite many progress in international and national policy and regulatory framework,despite commitments from political, financial and industry leaders,despite this workshop towards sustainability and productivity in palm oil and pulp and paper sectors,Your business of rampantly clearing out forests for oil palm plantation and timber plantation, and Your business of stealing from indigenous peoples, encroaching in our land and resources, and destroying our culture and identity,Are still business as usual.”
Yes, it’s all same when it comes down to what’s actually happening on the ground.
Deforestation rate today, a best estimate from Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) is still more than 1.99 million ha annually. This corresponds to 74% of CO2 emissions of the country. This is despite President SBY’s pledge to reduce Indonesia’s emission by 26%.Corruption and crimes in the forest is at best as bad as ever. You might read in the news recently of a low rank police officer with trillions rupiah bank account in Papua, and a recent report by the Environmental Investigation Agency that links this money to illegal logging and trade.
Demolishing customary forest and turning them into palm oil plantationsis in complete violation of international human rights standards including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and even our own national criminal law is at this very moment happening in Mr. Asuy’s Muara Tae in East Kalimantan and in many other places in Indonesia. That’s why Mr. Asuy’s message I conveyed to you at the beginning.
And forest fires is right now raging in our forests and lands, choking much of Sumatra, Malaysia, and Singapore with smoke and haze. Same as last year, and the year before, and before, and before, like 1997 and 1982.
So, ladies and gentlemen, it is sadly still business as usual as far as our forests and indigenous peoples concern.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As much of your current business is about converting forest into oil palm plantation and timber plantation, have you glimpsed the new reality of where the power is shifting to in regards to land and forest-based industry development?
If not then let me welcome you to the Renewed Dawn of Customary Forest in Indonesia. In 16 May 2013, our Constitutional Court has righted a wrong that for so long has been forced upon us. The Court said customary forest is not state forest but indigenous peoples’. This is a tiny change, a one word “state” deletion in a sentence in the Forestry Law 1999, but this is a fundamental change. The Court’s reference to the Rio Declaration 1992 and Convention on Biodiversity affirms that Masyarakat(Hukum) Adat are Indigenous Peoples! Endless denial and doubt from many including of our own government regarding the existence of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia no longer valid.
Ladies and gentlemen,
While I stand here before you, I can see through the wall and into the horizon, the have long and difficult road ahead of us to make this correction happens on the ground, in the real life of our peoples and nation state.
In this order, ladies and gentlemen, Indigenous Peoples call for the leadership of President Yudhoyono to ensure that all government institutions – from national to local levels- work towards this recognition, respect, and protection of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, we hope that this change in law and presidential leadership that we call for will also bring about the dawn of the day when we start to renew the relationship between state and indigenous peoples in a good faith. On this, the nearest opportunityis the adoption of the Law on Indigenous Peoples currently processed by the Parliament.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Only when we change our way of doing business we can have hope to answer the challenge of tremendous and unprecedented pressures from the global quest for food, fuel, fibre and mineral wealth. Your business as usual have put our forests under siege.
But for those corporations interested in investing in Indonesia, AMAN is open and committed to dialogue on how this can be done in a legal, equitable, and sustainable and mutually beneficial way. In the light of the renewed dawn of our customary forests, in the spirit of creating a true partnership between government, private sector, and communities.
And when Indonesia becomes the leading light in reducing emission and combatting climate change, as President Yudhoyono’s 26% pledge, and leading example of fulfilling indigenous peoples’ rights, we can do much to face those challenges.
It will be Indonesia’s legacy for the HLP Post 2015. This is a chance to demonstrate during the upcoming World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 22-23 September 2014 by the UN General Assembly. It will be Indonesia’s contribution to creating new perspectives in global environmental governance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is our duty, indigenous peoples of the archipelago to, when we secure the opportunity and means, to outperform government agencies in preventing deforestation. Therefore fulfilling the prophecies of a recent study that compared deforestation rates on lands protected by governments to those on lands managed by indigenous peoples.
It will be also our duty to share our centuries-deep knowledge of how to care for and protect our forests.
Your duty, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, is to gain the consent of indigenous peoples for investments and development activities to be carried out within our territories. This will require your patience, good faith, and a framework for genuine consent to be based upon complete information, transparency, and in the end the acceptance of both government and private sector of the right of indigenous peoples to say NO to destructive development models that harmful to all of us and the mother earth.
Ladies and gentlemen, in closing please allow me to quote from the Mama Aleta who wonthe 2013 Goldman Environmental Prize“the earth is our body; land is our flesh,water is our blood,forest is the artery and hair,and stone is our backbone; if one of these parts goes missing, the earth will be paralyzed.“
Horas. Mauliate. Terimakasih. Thank you.