What is good governance?

What is good forest and land governance?

Forest and land governance includes the processes, mechanisms, rules and institutions for managing forests and land. It can involve top-down, government-led legislation, policies or programs designed to regulate forest and land use, and bottom-up approaches, such as community-administrated advisory, monitoring or decision-making bodies.

Good governance is vital for sustainable land and forest management. It is characterized by policy making that is based on transparent and predictable processes, accountable and competent public officials, civil society participation, and the enforcement of legal elements such as property rights. Active, informed and engaged stakeholders from all sectors – government, civil society and the private sector – are essential in managing natural resources efficiently.

Transparency and accountability are foundational to good governance, and are therefore central to SETAPAK’s activities. Transparency refers to efforts by government to provide access to accurate and up-to-date information, and accountability exists when government actions and decisions are subject to oversight to ensure that they meet stated objectives and commitments.

Transparency cements trust, enabling citizens to understand how decisions about land use are made and assess their appropriateness. Improved transparency means that citizens have access to information about where deforestation is planned or prohibited, and under what conditions. This enables greater public participation in policy debate and increased reporting of infractions. Increased transparency also means that public bodies and officials can be assessed to ensure that they are performing effectively, providing value for money, and are responsive to the community they serve.

Accountability entails government and public officials providing information about their decisions and actions and justifying them to the public and institutions charged with providing oversight. Improved accountability means that illegal deforestation is more likely to be investigated and prevented. Community rights to land and forests will be increasingly upheld, and improved security of tenure will lead to more small-scale sustainable forest use and less commercially-driven deforestation.

Unfortunately, good governance has not yet been fully achieved in Indonesia. Land and forest policies are not implemented in a transparent and participative way, and accountability is low. Poor forest and land governance is a contributing factor to Indonesia’s deforestation rates – the highest of any country in the world.

Measuring progress

Samarinda mining behind rice paddy

The Land and Forest Governance Index (LFGI) has been produced as part of the SETAPAK research program. Developed by the Indonesian Centre for Environmental Law (ICEL) and the National Secretariat of the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Seknas FITRA), it tracks transparency, participation, accountability and coordination in the forestry, mining and plantation sectors at the district level. It aims to identify and diagnose weaknesses in governance, and to compare districts to find best practices that can serve as models. As well as providing a way to measure the impact of interventions, it provides NGOs with a tool to design advocacy activities, and allows better informed dialogue with government.