Business and government leaders meet as Papua and West Papua is at brink of major green investment

Sorong, West Papua – Local and national government representatives of Indonesia and dozens of private sector executives attended a High Level Meeting on Green Investment for Papua and West Papua on 27 February 2020. The meeting focused on the potential for green investment to bring revenue of up to USD 200 million and create livelihoods for 60,000 families across both provinces, while following the principles of inclusive and sustainable development.

Papuan indigenous youth ambassadors explain spices and algae to the Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan© IDH

Papuan indigenous youth ambassadors explain spices and algae to the Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan

The meeting is the result of a series of dialogues between the provinces of Papua and West Papua, civil society organizations, indigenous groups and the private sector since 2018, supported by the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investments of the Republic of Indonesia and facilitated by Yayasan Inisiatif Dagang Hijau (IDH). Innovative solutions for forest protection and the development of potential commodity value chains in Papua and West Papua were among the anticipated outcomes of the event.

“We want the private sector to invest in low carbon development, such as nutmeg, coffee, cocoa and seaweed. No more deforestation, no more palm oil. We are not only talking about huge investments, but we want small medium enterprises to be developed as well,” said Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments Luhut Binsar Panjaitan.

Mr Panjaitan also stated that green investment is crucial because sustainable development requires substantial amounts of capital. The Indonesian Development and Planning Agency (Bappenas) estimates Indonesia will need around USD 4.7 billion to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with 62% provided by the government and the remaining to be contributed from other sources.

Governor of West Papua Dominggus Mandacan stressed that, “On 4 April 2019, with the Governor of Papua we made a commitment to protect the forest. Only 33 percent of the 2.7 million hectares of land outside the forest area has been utilized for the development of land-based commodities. This is the untapped potential that needs to be realized to increase economic growth and community welfare, while maintaining the preservation of forests and land in West Papua.”

Deputy Governor of Papua Klemen Tinal said that, “We’re preparing to improve 5 areas to attract more investment in Papua, namely skilled human resources, infrastructure and logistic development to leverage business profitability, security, as well as aligning between investments and low carbon development initiatives.”

Around 200 people from businesses, governments and civil society organizations, along with indigenous and religious leaders, attended the event and showed a keen interest in the potential for green commodity development in both provinces. Other high-level government leaders present at the meeting included Minister of Cooperative and SMEs Teten Masduki; Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo; Head of Investment Board Bahlil Lahadalia; and Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Angela Tanosoedibjo.

Papua High Level Meeting© IDH

Prior to the High-Level Meeting, the Governments of Papua and West Papua, together with Yayasan IDH developed a Green Growth Plan (GGP) and Green Investment Blueprint (GIBP) for both provinces. The GIBP contains, among others, information about various commodities that are cultivated in Papua and West Papua, have good market potential, and are culturally appropriate and acceptable to the local communities.

In June 2019, both documents were discussed during public consultation fora in Manokwari and Jayapura which involved indigenous and religious leaders, women groups, local businesses, Civil Society Organisations and youth.

Papua Muda Inspiratif (PMI), a local civil society organization initiated by young Papuans actively involved in encouraging the role of the young generation in development, welcomed the High-Level Meeting. “We welcome this meeting as a good opportunity for dialogue to further develop green investment models that align with sustainability and inclusivity principles. We, the youth, are ready to lead and maintain the ongoing dialogue to realize those opportunities,” said Neil Awoy, one of the founders of PMI.

Yayasan IDH selected four Papuan youth ambassadors for Papua and West Papua’s commodities in the High-Level Meeting. Elisabeth Jakarimilena, youth ambassador said: “We, the Papuan youth, are proud to be selected as the ambassador to promote our local commodity to be developed in a sustainable manner. We have been trained and equipped with skills that enable us to contribute in developing the welfare of Papuan people without harming our forest.”

Protecting the forests and coastal areas in Papua and West Papua from degradation is crucial, as nature is vital for people’s welfare, socioeconomic equality and for sustainable and low-carbon development.

Alex Waisimon, founder of Rephang Muaif Papua birdwatching ecotourism, said: “I have proved that Papuan people are open to tourists who appreciate our culture and biodiversity. I hope many local Papuan can contribute to ecotourism development so that we are able to conserve our nature.”

Imam Suharto, Olam Cocoa Sustainability Director, said: “We want to achieve 100% of our chocolate sustainability target volume from our sourcing area by 2020, including from Indonesia. To fulfil this target, we are enthusiastically looking for another cocoa bean sourcing area outside Sulawesi. The green investment in Papua and West Papua is a business scheme that we are looking for to fulfil our sourcing needs.”

Yayasan IDH stated that four commodities and services have been evaluated in terms of their potential to bring added value to the sustainable development of both provinces: cocoa, nutmeg and vanilla, seaweed, and ecotourism.

“By applying the production, protection, and inclusion (PPI) model, cocoa, seaweed, ecotourism, and nutmeg and vanilla can be managed sustainably. This business model, however, can only work well with stakeholders’ collaboration, including from local governments, the private sector, CSOs, and farmers,” said Fitrian Ardiansyah, Chairman of Yayasan IDH.

The High-Level Meeting on Green Investment is the continuation of the Manokwari Declaration signed in October 2018, which created vital momentum for Papua and West Papua. Both provinces have declared their commitment as sustainable provinces to maintain 70 percent of their forest cover.