Seminar on Forest and Land Fire in Indonesia, in University of Indonesia (11/26)
Jakarta, November 26, 2019 – Serikat Perempuan Indonesia (Indonesian Women’s Union) held a seminar on Forest Fire and Climate Justice. The discussion was facilitated by Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (Alliance of Agrarian Reform Movement), SERUNI, Clean Biofuel for All Coalition, and lecturer of Geography Science of University of Indonesia.
The seminar was held in response to the forest and land fire in Indonesia, where the total forest and peatland burnt throughout 2019 has reached 857.756 ha—the worst in the previous 3 years.
In her presentation, Nurul Sri a lecturer of Geography Science said that palm oil plantations, especially the unregistered one, is one of the contributor of the forest and land fire in 2014 with a burning area of 14,396 ha. The forest fire has close relation with the opening area for palm oil plantations where palm oil corporations and business—including land broker—are the actors who benefit from land clearing due to forest and land fire.
The relation between palm oil expansion and forest fire is also addressed by Agus Sutomo from the Clean Biofuel for All Coalition. According to him, palm oil company which supplies biodiesel such Asian Agri, Golden Agri Resources, Darme Group, Musim Mas, and BEST Agro, is reported for causing forest and land fire. In his presentation, Sutomo criticized that the ‘clean energy’ biofuel is actually not produced sustainably.
The forest and land fire has deepened the ecological crisis and contributed significantly to climate change. Triana from SERUNI argues that the problem of ecological crisis cannot be separated from the human right based social justice. According to her, sustainable development means orienting the goals of development to improve the quality of life of people with addressing the ecological balance.
Sustainable development is seen as requiring democratic decision making and planning in the hands of the people. In the context of the palm oil industry, for example, the plantations and mills must be managed democratically by the workers and the communities. In this way, the governance of the industry may be more responsive to local needs and ecological problems.
The democratization of development also requires equal distribution of production benefits that have been monopolized by the giant agribusiness corporation. Triana sees that social movements are an important instrument in realizing these goals.
The discussion on Forest and Land Fire is in line with the discourse on Just Transition. The Just Transitionis a principle, process and practice developed by trade unions and environmental justice groups to shift extractive economies that harmful to nature to a sustainable economy. The Justice Transition seeks to find an alternative from the extractive industry that not only destroy the planet but also damage the health of workers and communities.
In general, the discourse on Just Transition or Sustainable Development as discussed in the Forestry Seminar above still does not widely reach the workers. The discourse tends to be limited to the urban middle class or university intellectuals. Further efforts are needed to be able to expose the issue of Environmental Justice by opening a dialogue with workers.