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Indonesia’s Election and Environmental Political Agenda

By: Khalisah Khalid, WALHI

Although not expected, the result has indeed been predictable. Out of the total House of Representatives candidates, less than 7 percent have the required capacity, leadership, commitment, and integrity on environmental and human rights issues.

Political parties similarly still perceive environmental issues on the superficial level, without understanding that the roots of environmental problems are strongly related to the economic and political policies chosen by the leaders of this nation, as can be traced from the political parties’ documents on the environment.

From the general findings of tracing the trajectories of the candidates and their political parties can be concluded that the environmental issues will stay marginal in the Senayan’s House of Representatives until the next election period. This finding also implies that the environmental political agenda has not become a strategic agenda of the national leadership. In fact, ecological disasters are constantly threatening at any time. Debates on environmental issues, both at the global and national level, is also getting more complicated and complex, such as the climate change debate which is increasingly distant from the settlement of the issue for the interests of citizens of the earth.

Three agenda

The environmental movement found its moment of change in the 1999 elections. The consolidation of environmental movement was so strong to push the agenda of reforming the environmental management and natural resources.

The milestone for the consolidation between the environmental and agrarian movement established under the common political agenda manifested through the MPR Decree No. IX of 2001 on Agrarian Reform and Natural Resources Management (NRM). The political agenda of environmental and natural resources reform was stipulated in the Decree. Unfortunately the Decree was stagnant and the whereabouts of NRM bill is unknown.

Law No. 32 of 2009 on the Protection and Management of the Environment, which was considered by the environmental movement as a more progressive law than the previous one, its governmental regulation has not been stipulated until today. Environmental issues are back to the deserted road once again and almost forgotten in the juggernaut of various sectorial natural resources policies which are increasingly greedy.

Now, in the 2014 election, with the rationale of the environmental problem is a political problem, the environmental movement suppose to be able to make it as a political momentum to push a political agenda towards environmental ecological justice. Therefore, political reform is foundation for the NRM and environmental reform and it can be realized by covering two things, namely policy and institutional. Both are the major prerequisites for achieving equitable, sustainable, and pro-people NRM, especially for those who had no political and economic power.

There are at least three important things to be promoted in order for the environmental political agenda become the strategic program of the national leader.

Firstly, we do know that the environmental damage caused by the imbalance of the structure and control of natural resources where the majority of natural resources are managed by the investor with the consent of the state through a variety of policies. Therefore, it is important to establish a political agenda that encourages the restructuring of relations between the people, the state, and capital.

The state should be positioned as a bastion of human rights. Therefore, in the restructuring of relations of state, capital, and people, especially in the economic sector, the people interest must be placed as the ultimate goal. The state must fully perform the role of protecting and promoting human rights.

Secondly, future leaders are expected to have a key agenda of reforming the natural resource policies by ending the natural resource sectoral regime. It is one of the root causes of environmental problems in Indonesia through the overlapping of natural resource sectoral policies. The future environmental political agenda should promote an end to the NRM sectoral regime that generated the overlapping of a variety of natural resources policies.

Thirdly, the reform of environmental institutions should be the subsequent main agenda exerted by the elected government. The current environmental authorities are not capable of functioning effectively because of the limited authority to coordinate the environmental policies at the national level.

In the policymaking, the environmental interests have always been marginalized over the sectoral interests, which are large-scale exploitation and massive oriented. The budget politic for the environmental institutions, which is far below the sectoral natural resource departments, indicates that the present government indeed is not yet aware of the fundamental environmental problems.

This process should not at all ignore the fact that there are people’s rights that have been violated as well as intense and widespread conflicts in the agrarian and natural resources or the environmental sector that must be resolved. The new leaders also have to ensure that there is a restoration of the environment that has been destroyed. The environmental legal court is an urgent agenda that needs to be considered by the government to prosecute environmental crimes hiding behind the prevailing policies and regulations.

Political awareness

Election is only one of the manifestations of democracy. However, beyond the election, it is important for citizens to exercise their political rights in determining their fate and living spaces in smaller units. The people’s rights to veto over development and economic projects must be recognized, including the one that the government implemented through the MP3EI.

The political awareness at the procedural democracy level should be promoted in order to participate in the struggle to clean up state institutions of environmental destroyers and usurpers of people’s livelihoods. Like it or not, this political agenda must be done so that in the 2014 election natural resources no longer a commodity or goods of the political and power elites.

03/01/2014 – 00:00


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