The government on Tuesday (19/12) claimed to have drastically reduced the number of forest and land fire hot spots across the country by 94 percent in 2016 from 2015 and by 37 percent in 2017 from 2016, a minister said.(Reuters Photo/YT Haryono)

US Signs $30 Million Grant for Environmental Projects in Indonesia


FEBRUARY 01, 2016

Jakarta. The United States, through its foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation, recently pledged a total of $30 million for two projects which aim to help restore and protect Indonesia's peat land areas in light of last year's fire and haze crisis.

The two projects will involve dedicating $17 million to the Berbak Green Prosperity Project, which will restore the hydrology of peat swamp forests in Jambi and reduce peat fires. The projects will also involve a $13 million agreement with three palm oil mills in Riau, the US ambassador to Indonesia, Robert Blake, told a panel discussion at the Climate Festival hosted by the Environment and Forestry Ministry in Jakarta on Monday.

"This is just part of what will be a wider US government effort to support Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency," Blake said in the statement, referring to the government's newly-formed agency tasked with restoring peat lands and other areas affected by last year's forest fires, such as Jambi and Papua.

Blake noted that the Berbak Green project will also involve training sessions for smallholder farmers to increase production, facilitate the advancement of their oil palm certifications and assist them in building a community-based palm oil mill.

The second project, according to Blake, is an agreement with three palm oil mills in Riau for biogas power plants based on palm oil mill effluent, which refers to the waste water discharged from processing crude oil, while also helping independent smallholders in each mill's supply base to gain certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

"This grant alone is expected to produce 3 megawatts of renewable energy from biogas, [an] equivalent amount of electricity to power 9,000 rural homes," Blake said.

The agreement would also capture 117,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to emissions from 785 million kilometers driven annually, as well as "improve the productivity and management practices for 2,000 independent smallholders," Blake added.

Aside from the grants from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the US has also committed to its role in helping Indonesia's climate change agenda through the government agency USAID, which recently launched a new portfolio of projects to address climate change and support low carbon emissions, according to Blake.

The new portfolio includes $47 million for forest conservation and land use planning, $24 million for land use policy and conversation advocacy, $19 million for climate change adaptation, $19 million for clean energy and $5 million for forest research, he added.

"The United States, for its part, has prioritized our partnership to help Indonesia in taking steps to both combat climate change and increase Indonesia’s resilience to climate change," Blake said.

"It is difficult to put a figure on it, but over the past five years, and including these future new projects, the US will have invested approximately $1 billion dollars toward improving the management of the Indonesian environment."