The agreement the international community reached at Glasgow’s COP 26 in November 2021 keeps alive the critical target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, said UK minister Asok Sharma at the end of the two-week climate conference, even if its “pulse is weak.” Integral to that lifeline are two clauses: a pledge to halt or reverse deforestation by 2030, and a pledge to phase down the use of coal in energy generation.

Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of thermal coal, and home to the world’s third-largest area of tropical forests after Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo, making the country’s actions in accordance with the COP26 agenda critical to global efforts to mitigate the climate emergency. On October 29, 2021, the same day COP26 opened, President Jokowi issued a Presidential Regulation setting out the country’s framework for action on climate change and stipulating policies for the preparation of mitigation activities to reduce carbon emissions—the UN had been in consultation on these policies throughout.

The declining rate of deforestation in Indonesia serves as proof of the success of the government’s recent forest management initiatives, including a 2019 moratorium that tightened the implementation of laws on illegal logging and other damaging activities. As a result, Indonesia’s annual deforestation rate has fallen for four consecutive years, to 119,100 hectares in 2020. It is now on track to meet one requirement of the Nationally Determined Contributions which targets a 29% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Through its KALFOR Project, the UN is helping to conserve an additional 44,490 Ha through non- forest area protection governance, which entails the mitigation of 16,138,427.17 tons of CO2e emissions.

Indeed, the UN is active in ecological restoration across the breadth of the archipelago. The UN in Indonesia’s 6th The Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grants Programme focuses on encouraging the sustainable use of productive landscapes and seascapes at four target areas on Semau Island, Nusa Penida Island, Wakatobi Isles, and Gorontalo, approved through a pProject aAppraisal cCommittee led by BAPPENAS. The programme involves local communities—including women, youth, marginalized and indigenous peoples— in conservation at each of the target areas. By the end of 2021, the livelihoods of some 13,118 people, 52% of whom are women, had benefitted from participation in activities connected to the programme around law enforcement, land and sea rehabilitation, reforestation, awareness-raising, and biodiversity monitoring.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) and the UN have also been working together to advance the haze-free and sustainable peatland management agenda in Indonesia for over a decade— in part funded by the GEF. In 2021 the ministry developed and implemented 12 sub-regulations and 10 technical guidelines governing the sustainable use and management of peatland ecosystems, covering aspects such as irrigation infrastructure and groundwater management. In parallel, the UN helped develop an innovative national monitoring system that combines remote sensing, ground-level proofing, and data collection with the mapping of all peatland areas to enable the government to effectively implement these regulations.

Another UN–MoEF peatland-focused partnership facilitated the installation of two peatland hydrology units that cover about 5% of Indonesia’s total peatland in 2021. The hydrology units are responsible for saving 19,270,183 tCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions. Their capacity to make water available for agriculture and render peatland less vulnerable to degradation and fires benefitted 7,326 people directly and a further 22,000 indirectly. Meanwhile, the upcoming UN-assisted Integrated Management of Peatland in Indonesia project will target the integrated management of 1.2 billion hectares of peatland, mitigating 4,31 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions while benefiting 5,000 households directly and a further 15,000 indirectly. The UN delivered a pre-startup project in early December 2021 ahead of a planned launch in Q1-2022.

Finally, the UN is working with the Government on several programmes connected with reducing water pollution and marine debris and improving sanitation— collectively known as “Brown issues.” These include the Indonesian Waste Donation Campaign (GRADASI) project, a mosque-based movement to reduce plastic waste initiated by the National Coordination team of Ocean Waste Management and the Indonesian Ulema Council, supported by the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs. Under the campaign, plastic waste collected at mosques is sold at waste banks, with the money used to fund religious activities and help vulnerable people in communities surrounding the mosques. During its initiation phase at six pilot mosques, GRADASI collected 14.1 tons of waste. The project could potentially generate up to IDR 8,000,000 in monthly revenues for the mosques.