Indonesia’s environment minister: Ending deforestation under COP26 deal ‘inappropriate & unfair’

"We won't promise what we can't do," she said a day after Indonesia's President Joko Widodo signed the pledge.

Zhangxin Zheng | November 06, 2021, 10:10 AM

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A day after over 100 countries pledged to "halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation" by 2030 at global climate summit COP26, Indonesia's environment minister spoke against the deal on social media.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was one of the world leaders who signed the Declaration of Forests and Land Use in Glasgow on Nov. 2.

Indonesia's commitment was a significant one as the country is home to a third of the world's rainforests.

As of Nov. 5, 133 countries have signed the declaration. Singapore is not one of them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, on arrival to COP26 World Leaders Summit of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference at the SEC, Glasgow. Photograph: Karwai Tang/ UK Government

Indonesia says they interpreted the deal differently

However, its Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on Nov. 3 that forcing Indonesia to end deforestation by 2030 is "clearly inappropriate and unfair".

The minister said that the pledge should not be interpreted as "zero deforestation" and should not impede the country's development projects, such as clearing forests for roads, or for agriculture.

"The massive development of President Jokowi's era must not stop in the name of carbon emissions or in the name of deforestation," she reportedly said on her social media accounts.

Siti added that forests are Indonesia's "natural wealth" and should be used in accordance with sustainability principles and fairness.

She also disagreed on how "deforestation" is being defined and said the "European standards" should not be imposed on Indonesia which has its own set of conditions.

"We won't promise what we can't do," she said.

Indonesia’s vice foreign minister, Mahendra Siregar, also echoed the same sentiment and denied that the pledge meant ending deforestation by 2030.

In response to Reuters, Mahendra said that Indonesia interpreted the pledge to "halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation" as referring to sustainable management of forests, and to aim for no net loss of forests.

Mahendra also said that it is "false and misleading" to describe the deal as one that ends deforestation completely.


The Guardian also reported that a spokesperson for the UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that what the Indonesian government has said "would be consistent with the pledge" — that is to end "net deforestation" and ensure that "any forest lost is replaced sustainably".

COP26 President Alok Sharma also responded to the press that all nations had joined the pledges “in full understanding of what they are signing up to”.

According to Mongabay, Greenpeace Indonesia activist Iqbal Damanik said hopes that the Indonesian government would do something to halt deforestation were dashed by the environment minister's response.

"We’re sure that whatever Indonesia signed at COP26 won’t have any impact on our domestic policies," he said.

Top image via Siti Nurbaya Bakar/FB