Many local governments lack the capacity to formulate and implement policies to address land use and forestry issues effectively. Data and technical skills are often in short supply, and civil society is rarely involved fully in policy making processes.
As evidence based policy making and civil engagement are critical to good governance, SETAPAK is working to support governments to develop policies and decision making processes that are based on accurate and up-to-date data, consider long term impacts and sustainability, and encourage civil society involvement. Open debate ensures that a full range of options, interests and implications are considered, and public scrutiny incentivizes transparent processes covering planning, development, implementation and monitoring.
As a part of policy advocacy efforts for better land and forest governance, SETAPAK partners have submitted a number of legal reviews, policy papers and draft regulations, covering issues such as spatial planning, strategic environmental assessments, moratoriums on mining permits, and freedom of information. They have also supported applications for judicial reviews, and contributed advocacy and technical assistance to a number of new policies that have passed into law.
SETAPAK has also been supporting the National Information Commission (NIC) through its partner, the Freedom of Information Network Indonesia (FOINI). One of the group’s recommendations, which has been included in the NIC strategic plan for 2014-2017, was to revise the Act to require that secretariat staff be recruited from outside the civil service, thereby assuring greater impartiality. SETAPAK partner ICEL (Indonesian Center for Environmental Law) is also working to strengthen the rule of law by supporting the Supreme Court in training and certifying judges competent in presiding over environmental cases, and establishing a tracking and monitoring system to match certified judges with relevant law suits.
A recent change in the law (Law No. 23/2014 on Regional Governance, issued in October 2014) shifts some responsibilities for managing forest and land resources, including the authority to issue mining and timber permits, from district to provincial governments. This is of key importance for the land use sector, potentially offering improved oversight and accountability, and SETAPAK partners have been conducting workshops to explore the implications.
East Kalimantan is one of Indonesia’s most heavily mined provinces, and open cast mining is common. Without effective clean up and remediation processes, this type of mining leaves large areas of land devastated. In Samarinda, where active and abandoned coal mines scar the landscape, farmers complain of floods, droughts, water pollution and falling yields and in recent years, 11 people, mainly children, have drowned in unused mining pits. SETAPAK partners have been working as part of a coalition of NGOs to press for improved government regulation of post-mining land reclamation and rehabilitation activities. Their efforts were rewarded in November 2013 when the provincial government issued a new bylaw on post-mining cleanup, and made its intentions to enforce it clear.