Greenpeace urges low-carbon development plan for preserving West Papua’s forests and Indigenous rights

Greenpeace Indonesia has called upon the Provincial Governments in West Papua to commit to a low-carbon development plan in order to preserve natural forests sustainably in the region. This commitment is also essential for conserving indigenous people’s rights to land, forests, and resources. The organisation highlights the need to change the current exploitative development strategy, which involves granting licenses for land-based extractive industries like mining, Industrial Plantation Forests (HTI), Forest Concession Rights (HPH), and oil palm plantations.

According to Greenpeace’s research in collaboration with the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (IDEF), oil palm plantation licenses in Tanah Papua have covered an area of 1.88 million hectares. The organisation stresses that without genuine implementation of such commitments, the notion of low-carbon development would remain merely symbolic. Over the past two decades, West Papua has suffered significant forest loss, with around 641.4 thousand hectares of natural forest disappearing between 2000 and 2020. According to Greenpeace, the regencies Merauke, Boven Digoel, Mimika, Mappi, Nabire, Fakfak, Teluk Bintuni, Manokwari, Sorong, and Kaimana are particularly affected by deforestation.

The forest degradation and destruction are accelerated by a non-participatory development approach that disregards the rights of indigenous Papuans. To counter this, Greenpeace urges the integration of indigenous territories into the Papua Spatial and Regional Plan (RTRW). This would facilitate inclusive planning for the protection and sustainability of these territories. Recognizing the importance of the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, the organisation underscores the need for indigenous involvement in managing and safeguarding land, forests, water, and resources.

The creation of new autonomous provinces within Papua, as well as ongoing land-based investments, have significantly contributed to the rapid rate of deforestation. If development approaches remain unchanged and heavily reliant on investments, the potential loss of natural forests, which currently span around 34.4 million hectares, could be even greater in the future. Greenpeace emphasizes the urgency of shifting towards a low-carbon development paradigm that respects indigenous rights and the environment, warning that failure to do so will have severe consequences for the region’s ecosystem and its people.