SZ: But what would make you step in as a government? I mean, based on what I know, the voluntary market is quite rigorous, and your Deputy, Agus Sari, says that Indonesia could become a buyer of offsets from the voluntary carbon market.
HP: We would never support a project just to support it, but we might support an ecosystem restoration project if it were a flagship program.
SZ: So, if it’s something that can be replicated across the country, then it makes sense?
HP: Yes, because that’s the hard part. Proof of concept is easy; proof of replicability is difficult. Because RR and RMU are using ecosystem restoration, it’s something that can be used. I’d like to see if this can be replicated in mangroves. I’d ask CIFOR to do the research.
SZ: Palm oil is getting a lot of attention now internationally. Will that help your efforts to implement a REDD+ strategy?
HP: This is all so complex. Solving one small problem is not solving the problem at all. In fact, it even creates other problems. We are trying now to resolve the issue of licenses, but suddenly we have this cry because Europe and America are imposing a higher tariff on palm oil, so the nationalistic spirit kicks in. It’s all complicated and interrelated. It may solve one problem, then creates another that’s more difficult to solve.
We have to have patience and persistence, and think in terms of interconnected landscapes.
SZ: I’m still not completely clear on what the landscape approach means here…
HP: It means looking at everything – at the big picture, at the flows – the flows of goods, flows of money, flows of people, and flows of technology.
On the goods front, you have various derivative of palm oil: refined and raw, and biofuel.
On the money front, you have massive investments and incentives – do you invest in the giant kilns? Maybe, but then what do you do if India puts an import duty on refined oil but not on raw oil, which is what they do. They can incentivize us based on their import duties. A big factory draws on palm oil from a lot of land. This raises the question of who invests and who benefits? The rich? And it doesn’t end there. You can have speculators in New York who make money by speculating on the rupiah.
On the people front, you have engineers and other experienced workers, and when an experienced oil company worker goes to Liberia, just to take one example, the profile of Liberia changes.
Related to this is the flow of technology, of knowledge – the way of doing things. If the technology for getting better palm oil seed gets imported to Indonesia at a price, then productivity won’t go up as fast as it should, and that impacts the forests, because we’re using more land. So, why not make this technology free, or at least import it at cost?
Looking at this big picture is the landscape approach.
SZ: Is it even possible to take all of that into account?
HP: Some people say if you want to solve the simpler problem, you solve the complex one first.
SZ: You mentioned supporting projects that are replicable because of their value as pilots, and I’ve always felt the voluntary markets had a lot of lessons for the compliance markets. Those lessons seem to be making their way into state and regional cap-and-trade programs, but I don’t get the feeling they’re getting into the UNFCCC.
HP: You have to understand that the UNFCCC is large and complex. Some people are working to bring those lessons into it, but the overall structure is so balkanized that it’s almost impossible. Right now, all of this thinking is happening in silos, and it has been ever since the first Earth Summit in 1992, when we created different conventions for biodiversity and climate change – and also for desertification, which everyone forgets about.
SZ: So, you think we should unify the three conventions?
HP: I do, but these silos are everywhere. We see them in Indonesia, where different authorities have control over different parts of the landscape. It’s a global problem.
(page 3 of 6)