The first meeting of the Science-Policy Dialogue was conceptualized as an induction meeting for the Project Advisory Group (PAG) to engage with the GCS-REDD+ Phase 4 project plan for 2022–2023. The online meeting was held on 16 December 2021 during the post-COP26 momentum at the beginning of Indonesia’s 2022 G20 Presidency. The event, which involved 35 participants representing government and NGOs, aimed to provide a discussion forum on national priorities and strategies towards Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and transforming the Forestry and Other Land Use FOLU sector into a carbon net-sink by 2030. It shed light on how research in general, and the GCS-REDD+ project in particular, can support the alignment of forestry, finance and development planning in Indonesia.
During the event, CIFOR laid out Phase 4 research plans for all Work Packages (WPs) in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) disseminated the government’s strategy to achieve low carbon development in Indonesia, and outlined how research can contribute to this commitment saying research findings from organizations like CIFOR will serve as baseline information and feedback for policymaking. With strong support from our main partner, RCCC-UI, we will explore priorities for FOLU sector policy intervention through 2022 and 2023. PAG members attending the event included representatives from national government agencies, NGOs and international organizations, academic institutions and research centres, as well as the private sector. The event was organized and facilitated to allow sufficient time for discussion.
In terms of lessons learned, a survey was conducted to determine top priority interventions for FOLU and agriculture. The results showed avoiding and reducing primary forest deforestation and improving crop productivity and intensity to be the top two priorities for Indonesia. Research issues and topics raised by PAG members included: (i) contributions of Forest Management Units to carbon sequestration; (ii) contributions of social forestry to climate change mitigation; (iii) the state budget being too small to tackle Covid-19 while supporting emissions reduction targets; (iv) baseline research for sectors that may be involved in carbon trading and/or offsetting schemes; and (v) carbon cap monitoring for accuracy and consistency with the carbon budget. Two main points were raised during the event’s conclusion: (i) the possibility for REDD+ to move beyond Article 5 of the Paris agreement, perhaps to Article 6 (2) or 6 (4); and (ii) the national FREL will need further consideration if implementation takes place at the subnational level, including social forestry.
Before and after surveys were conducted in relation to the event. A pre-event survey targeting PAG members showed lack of knowledge, awareness and capacity being the main barriers to successful REDD+ implementation in Indonesia. For them, the sharing and dissemination of data and information is the most effective means of engagement between the project and the PAG. More than 80% of PAG members were interested in the project’s research plans in different WPs. The results of this survey indicate the project’s strategy to disseminate information being highly relevant to PAG members’ concerns and aspirations.
A post-event statistical evaluation showed almost all respondents considering the event relevant to their jobs and/or responsibilities and saying it met their expectations. All survey respondents rated the event positively, with 83% rating it as good and 17% rating it as very good in terms of meeting their expectations. The majority of respondents (84%) considered the event useful (67%) or very useful (17%). Similarly, 82% of survey respondents said they learned from the three topics presented and the plenary discussion during the 1st Policy Dialogue, with 31% saying they learned a great deal, 21% a good deal, and 27% some. They learned about climate finance, government policy regarding COP26, REDD+, strengthening government commitments on global climate change, and how science can contribute to supporting Indonesia’s commitments.
As one PAG member summed up in conclusion:
“So far, the discussion is interesting. The government’s priorities to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, accelerate reforestation and restore peatlands and mangroves have been diminished by the reallocation of a significant amount of Indonesia’s state budget for handling the Covid-19 pandemic. It is our role as non-state actors, private sector practitioners, donors and implementing partners to strengthen our commitments to supporting government efforts and targets to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.”
During 2022, we will have three further dialogues to discuss recent research findings and the latest issues in the FOLU sector. The project will determine how effectively new knowledge and capacity are being transferred to target participants.