China: More Mobility with Fewer Cars through a GEF Grant
Since our days in school, we have often been told to first define our terms before doing anything else. China is a country that does not shy away from acronyms, and “TOD,” or transit-oriented development—a concept that merges land use and transport planning—is one such acronym that has become wildly popular within the field of urban development.
So, recently, when government officials from seven Chinese cities and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development gathered to launch the China Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot Project on the topic of TOD, it was clear that they all had the same definition of this three-letter acronym.
Mangroves are weeds; if you give them half a chance they grow in some of the most inhospitable environments; with their knees in seawater and their trunks in the air. They create forested barriers between the wrath of the seas and our coastal communities providing benefits in coastal defense and fisheries. Unfortunately there are too many examples where we have not given mangroves half a chance; hundreds of thousands of hectares have been lost to pollution, aquaculture and other developments. These represent real losses to the coastal communities – often some of the most vulnerable communities living in the highest risk areas.
“Peatlands are sexy!” They aren’t words you would normally associate with peatlands, but judging from the large audience that participated in the lively discussion on financing peatland restoration in Indonesia at the “Global Landscapes Forum: Peatlands Matter” conference, held May 18 in Jakarta, it seems to be true. The observation was made by Erwin Widodo, one of the speakers in the World Bank-hosted panel discussion at the event.
For me, it was a great honor to moderate a panel comprised of several of the leading voices in the space: Kindy Syahrir (Deputy Director for Climate Finance and International Policy, Finance Ministry), Agus Purnomo (Managing Director for Sustainability and Strategic Stakeholder Engagement, Golden Agri-Resources), Erwin Widodo (Regional Coordinator, Tropical Forest Alliance 2020), Christoffer Gronstad (Climate Change Counsellor, Royal Norwegian Embassy), and Ernest Bethe (Principal Operations Officer, IFC).
It was the right mix of expertise to address the formidable challenges in securing resources to finance sustainable peatland restoration in Indonesia. These include finding solutions to plug the financing gap, and identifying instruments and the regulatory framework necessary to strengthen the business case for peatland restoration. A significant amount of finance has been pledged. But one of the key issues the panel needed to address was how to redirect available finance towards more efficient and effective outcomes to reach sustainable restoration targets.
Global experience shows that growing first and cleaning up later rarely works. Rather, it is in countries’ interest to prioritize green and clean growth. This also holds true for Thailand, a country with rich natural resources contributing significantly to its wealth.
According to World Bank data, annual natural resource depletion in Thailand accounted for 4.4 percent of Gross National Income in 2012, and it has been rising rapidly since 2002. The rate of depletion is comparable to other countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, but it is almost three times faster than the rate in the 1980s.
Rapid natural resource depletion in Thailand is increasingly visible in reduced forest areas. Illegal logging and smuggling have led to a decline from 171 million rai of forested area in 1961 to 107.6 million rai in 2009. Coastal communities face erosion, ocean waste, and illegal, destructive fishing. The coasts are also increasingly vulnerable to storm surges and sea level rise, due to continued destruction of mangroves and coral reefs.
Hutan-hutan primer telah lama hilang dari lingkungan desa Teluk Bakung di pinggiran Pontianak, ibukota Kalimantan Barat di Indonesia. Hal ini tampak ketika saya tiba di wilayah tersebut pada akhir November 2016, sebagai bagian dari kunjungan lapangan. Kami melihat bagaimana sebagian besar penduduk desa telah meninggalkan pertanian yang berat di lahan gambut untuk bekerja pada perkebunan-perkebunan besar kelapa sawit dan ladang kelapa sawit mereka sendiri. Yang lain memilih berinvestasi dalam produksi sarang burung yang menguntungkan. Namun mereka melakukannya di tengah-tengah tata kelola penggunaan lahan yang membingungkan: demarkasi batas wilayah kawasan hutan dan wilayah administratif tidak lengkap, sementara kelompok kepentingan masyarakat dan pihak berwenang memperdebatkan sejarah alokasi areal konsesi perkebunan. Kumpulan data publik menunjukkan keragaman penggunaan lahan dan hutan di wilayah tersebut, termasuk cagar alamnya. Namun dalam kenyataannya, hampir seluruh lahan yang ada semakin dikhususkan untuk produksi kelapa sawit.
The primary forests have long gone from the surroundings of Teluk Bakung village on the outskirts of Pontianak, the capital of Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province. This was evident when I arrived in the region in late November 2016, as part of a field visit. We saw how most villagers have abandoned the difficult peatlands agriculture to work on large oil palm plantations and their own oil palm fields. Others have opted to invest in lucrative edible bird nest production. But they do so against a backdrop of confusing land-use management: forest estate and administrative boundary demarcation is incomplete, and community interest groups and authorities debate over the historical allocation of plantation concessions. Public data sets show a wide variety of land and forest uses in the area, including reserves. But in reality, virtually all of the land is increasingly being devoted to oil palm production.
Berita kebakaran hutan dan lahan bukan hal baru di Indonesia. Tapi drama penyenderaan di tengah “musim kebakaran”? Ini sesuatu yang baru, dan mendominasi deretan tajuk utama pemberitaan di awal September. Setelah mengumpulkan bukti lahan yang terbakar di area konsesi kebun sawit di Rokan Hulu, Riau, tujuh petugas Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan (KLHK) disandera dan dipaksa menyerahkan atau menghapus bukti yang mereka kumpulkan.