ASEAN Forum: Spreading the initiatives on natural resources governance to the ASEAN region

| April 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

Jakarta. Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) and ASEAN Study Centre, University of Indonesia organized an ASEAN Forum on Natural Resources Governance: Toward ASEAN Economic Community 2015 and Beyond, held in Jakarta on April 17, 2013.

The forum was attended by sixty participants representing government agencies, civil society organizations, companies and universities, aimed to share experiences and knowledge of stakeholders who have been working to support the improvement of natural resources management in Southeast Asian region, as well as encouraging ASEAN to prepare the principles of natural resources management towards the implementation of ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

Fabby Tumiwa, IESR Executive Director said in his opening remarks,”ASEAN Charter has stated that good governance is a principle in environment and natural resource management in order to achieve a sustainable development in the region”.

As the country with the most various natural resources endowment, Indonesia has initiated to implement the global initiatives for natural resources governances.

Left to right: Jose Melvin (Bantay Kita), Hendra Sinadia (IMA) and T Nirarta Samadi (OGP)

Supported by the Open Government Partnership program, Indonesia has developed a digital map portal called “One Map” to provide all information about mining, forestry, plantations and pleat land areas. By having this integrated map people can have access to get all information, including to download government regulations, natural resources area and authorities of natural resources management in Indonesia as well as the recent updated news.

This portal also integrates data from authorized agencies as such Ministry of Environment, Energy and Mineral Resources and Forestry. Communities also have access to update data and information gathered on the fields, such as forestry concession location’s correction made by Green Peace and GIS Communities. This map is also monitored by more than 80 companies working in mining and plantation.

“One Map is a process which combines the principles of freedom of information, participation and innovation to improve natural resources management.” said T. Nirarta Samadi, Deputy Head of Presidential Working Unit for Development Supervision and Control of Indonesian of Indonesian Open Government Partnership Program (OGP)

According to Hendra Sinadia, the executive secretary of Indonesian Mining Association (IMA), coordinated data provided by digital map can be the first step of improvements in natural resources management, especially in mining. But in order to achieve a better natural resources management, there has to be synchronized policies between central and local governments. Hendra also pointed out several cases in Indonesia which happened because of lack of synergy between central and local governments. When the autonomy era came, the authority of mining sector was taken over by local governments from central government, but capacity building in mining governance is not quite developed yet.

“Mining has become political commodity for local governments by easily issuing mining permits for short-term interests without caring for basic principles on mining management such as environmental support.”

In the Philippines, poor mining management has had negative impacts, from environmental degradation to social and political conflicts involving the Indigenous People, companies, local governments and armed forces. Mining is also considered as source of corruption and has caused continuous cycle of poverty.

Secretary Elisia “Bebet” Gozun,

“The implementation of transparency principles in Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a proof of the Philippines Government’s commitment to fight corruption and poverty. EITI also helped to create a constructive dialogues among government, civil society organizations and companies to support improvement of mining’s management,” said Elisia “Bebet” Gozun, the Presidential Advisor on Climate Change and the Head of EITI Philippines implementation team.

Jose Melvin, a member of Bantay Kita, CSO coalition in the Philippines, Bantay added that it is important to implement transparency principle in mining sector from the beginning of mining process by providing clear information to the community about mining plan, consequences and impacts of mining activities to community’s life and environment.

“Government and companies should consistently implement the principles of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and involve the community in decision making process. These principles should become standards and being implemented by all parties so there is no pressure in mining activities.” he said

Extractive Industries for the future

This forum also presented the scoping study on governance in extractive industries in six countries in Southeast Asia; Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar dan Timor Leste.

In his presentation Dr. Tilak K. Doshi, Executive Director of Energy Analytics & Consulting explained that extractive industries such as oil, coal, gold and other mineral resources are main resources for national revenues. However, non-transparent management had encouraged government leaders to seek for economic rent that only benefit a few.

Governments of resource-rich countries tend to provide higher subsidy on energy sectors instead of increasing tax rates. As a result, people lose their power to control government or demand accountable and healthy development programs.

Left to right: Professor Zainuddin Djafar (University of Indonesia), Dr. Tilak K. Doshi (National University of Singapore) and Evy Firiani Ph.D (University of Indonesia)

“EITI implementation is an initiative to improve good governance, especially in revenues of extractive industries, but it is also important for government to develop an accountable and transparent fund management in a form of Sovereign Wealth Fund to ensure that the state will have financial source for their long-term development and their next generation of people,” said Doshi.

He than added that government should take lead in developing independent regulatory body; preparing clear policies and regulations of natural resources management including deciding agencies and level of government that have the authority to manage these resources; and implementing transparent law that applied to all investors to support investment climate.

“For the economy efficiency, the government needs to promote stabilization on revenue stream by supporting national companies in extractive industries that run as commercial and professional enterprises, as well as practicing equitable distribution of employment and resource rents across national, regional and local stakeholders.”

Professor Zainuddin Djafar from Universitas Indonesia added, countries with resource endowment should also prepare a long term plan to build human resources capacity to be less-dependent of natural resources in the future.

This forum also provided recommendations for ASEAN leaders to help preparing a set of principles in managing natural resources that also consider environmental and Human Rights protection, Access benefits sharing and transparency and accountability.

Presentation Materials on ASEAN Forum are available to download on this page:

  1. Extractive Industries Governance in Southeast Asia
  2. The Philippines Experiences in improving transparency and management in Mining Sector.
  3. Indonesia Country Lesson: Transparency, Participation and Innovation in Natural Resources Management

 

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