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A BIG change

Equipped with new laws and technology, Badan Informasi Geospasial or BIG, the national geospatial information agency, is ushering in changes in the entire landscape of the country

The political stability in Indonesia has created a window of opportunity to improve land governance in the country. Changes within the Indonesian government and changing relationships between the government, civil society and the private sector are opening up new spaces for negotiation even as it gives rise to new areas of conflict.

The enactment of the Geospatial Information Law in April 2011 paved the way for key improvements in this sector. The enactment of this law was necessary as the country was unable to accomplish the necessary reforms for geospatial information and mapping through coordination and cooperation between the respective agencies. The law provides a legal framework for acquiring accurate geospatial data and creates a regulatory framework for the administration of national geospatial information and the process of how geospatial information is acquired and distributed. The Indonesian National Mapping Agency (Bakosurtanal), re-named as the Geospatial Information Agency (Badan Informasi Geospasial or BIG), is designated as the lead agency for coordination of geospatial information and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).

The priority for BIG is to ensure that geospatial data in Indonesia is better organised and more accurate with all mapping activities to use a common reference map-base called One- Map. Accordingly, the aim is to make OneMap the one and only mapbase used by all ministries and government institutions and is thus critical for decision-making. All stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society and indigenous communities, are now being encouraged to provide spatial inputs to OneMap.

OneMap is a key enabler for reform of the land sector. Access to nationally consistent and complete geospatial data is critical to improving land governance and making government more accountable and transparent.

Land governance
Fundamental to the challenges facing the reform of the Indonesian land sector is that it lacks a comprehensive land law. All land in Indonesia can be categorized into forest estate (kawasan hutan) and non-forest estate (areal pengunan lain, APL). As such, land is administered under a dual system through two different government agencies — the Ministry of Forestry (MoFor) and the National Land Agency (Badan Pertanahan Nasional, BPN), responsible for forestry and nonforestry lands, respectively. The issue is further complicated by indeterminate entitlements to land; lack of recognition of customary (adat) rights to land; lack of processes allowing free, prior and informed consent; excessive application of the state’s power of eminent domain; and a policy for the allocation of land concessions that ignores or overrides the rights and interests of others. Add to this, government control over land. Land administration and management are built upon a range of complexities established in the colonial past. The government is working to clear hurdles with regard to existing land-related regulations that date back to the 1800s.

It is generally acknowledged that across Indonesia, land-tenure legislation struggles to be properly implemented, and most people gain access to land on the basis of local landtenure systems and community-acknowledged traditions. These customary practices and systems, broadly described as adat, have been profoundly impacted by decades of colonial and post-Independence government interventions and are continually burdened as a result of diverse factors such as cultural interactions, population growth, socio-economic changes, and political processes.

Political economy
At the international conference on ‘Regulatory Reform of Indonesian Land Laws for People’s Welfare’, held in Jakarta in December 2012, high-level government and civil society speakers identified the lack of political will at the highest levels as the key obstacle to land reform in Indonesia. Initiatives to transform property rights seriously challenge existing structures that sustain deforestation. This means that any reform must challenge the power of the MoFor and local administration over forest lands. Any such reform puts at stake the ongoing accumulation of vast profits from economic activities generated from unregulated and unsustainable forestry. Accordingly, any effort to implement good governance over forest land faces numerous challenges. In case of non-forest land areas, complex and overlaps laws, decrees and regulations prevent resolution of tenure claims and strengthening land administration. Further, lack of clarity on forest and non-forest land areas, due to absence of reliable maps and data, prevent progress in building tenure security.

To appreciate the challenges facing landsector reforms, it is also necessary to understand the political economy of land in Indonesia. Real prospects for reform have emerged only since the late 1990s. The government recently made a strategic commitment to developing stronger, more robust policies and programmes for addressing the land sector problems. Reforms are taking place through a series of top-down high-level initiatives and seem to be followed by a series of complementary bottom-up responses from civil society. Taken together, these are leading to changes in the formal and informal balance of power between central and regional government authorities such as in determining the allocation of land within provincial spatial plans. A pilot assessment of land governance, using the World Bank’s Land Governance Assessment Framework was undertaken in 2009. It is anticipated that a more comprehensive assessment will commence later in 2013. Also, there could be support for dissemination of the United Nations Voluntary Guidelines for Land Tenure.

Top-down initiatives
The government has initiated several measures at the national and local levels to focus on and resolve overlaps to simplify the legal instruments, confirm tenure security, and strengthen institutional mechanisms for land governance. These initiatives include:

»March 2013: The Forestry Management Reform Pact, which is a joint action agreement concerning the management of Indonesia’s forests, was signed by eight Cabinet ministers and the heads of four state institutions. The agreement is between the heads of the respective ministries of home affairs, justice and human rights, agriculture, forestry, public works and environment as also the National Development Planning Commission, together with the corruption eradication commission, the National Land Agency (BPN), the National Mapping Agency (BIG,) and the National Commission on Human Rights.

»2012: Following the decision of the Constitutional Court on forest land areas, the MoFor has revitalised the Tenure Working Group on Forest Lands, which will comprise of representatives from civil society organisations too. This dialogue process was complemented by the CSOs drafting a Roadmap for Tenure Reforms (of forest land areas).

»December 2011: The House of Representatives approved a Land Acquisition and Compensation Law, which covers land acquisition for public projects such as railways, ports, roads and dams. This law is seen as an instrument to clear existing blocks to executing infrastructure projects. This and other new regulations have been met with expected controversy and opinions are polarised on investor versus community/individual rights.

»May 2011: The government announced a two-year moratorium on the award of new land use licences on primary natural forests and peat land areas. The Presidential Task Force is monitoring the enforcement of this moratorium. The government has acknowledged several issues go well beyond REDD+ and forest carbon/climate mitigation issues.

»April 2011: The passage of the Geospatial Information Law has endorsed Indonesia’s NSDI and empowered BIG as the lead agency in this sphere. BIG will provide the muchneeded leadership to unify information on land and natural resources in the country. The OneMap policy recognises that Indonesia needs a standard reference set of basic mapping. It also recognises that this must also include cadastral information — about the exact location of each land parcel, its boundaries, ownership and the rights attached to it. This is fundamental to good land governance and government decision making on land and natural resources. There are also other efforts to merge innovations and different technologies through a national data warehouse.

»Early 2010: A unified Presidential Task Force on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) was created. The Task Force is working on REDD+ related tasks to develop a set of strategies and plans for implementation. The REDD+ Task Force has 16 working groups to address specific issues. This task force has drafted a national strategy to unify all initiatives under REDD+, and set up the criteria and guidelines for funding mechanisms. The task force is also working on legal and enforcement issues. Central Kalimantan has been selected as the pilot province for these efforts. These efforts run parallel and are complimented by current trends towards decentralization of government functions.

Taken together, the top-down reforms are leading to changes in the formal and informal balance of power between central and regional government authorities in determining the allocation of land to forestry versus no-forestry purposes within provincial spatial plans.

Civil society advocacy and bottoms-up engagements
On the bottom-up side of the reforms, the following initiates are important to note:

  • The judicial review petitions filed by the civil society groups on the authority and management of forest land areas and pending petition on Land Acquisition and Compensation Law 2011 show that the support of local authorities and civil society groups for the big bang reforms is conditional.
  • The OneMap approach is designed to generate bottom-up support through community mapping to help people negotiate rights among themselves. BIG and the REDD+ Task Force are also taking steps to combine community mapping with satellite imagery and other geospatial information in a GIS under OneMap that can assist in recording and enforcing the agreements reached through community negotiation.
  • Together with OneMap, the government has introduced participatory land use planning in forest areas. This is an initiative that MoFor has been keen to scale up from previous pilot efforts. This brings in both bottom up support/ work and also endorsement from the top.
  • The government is opening up to endorsing some new tenure norms (eg, community titling for the indigenous people based on community maps produced in the ancestral domain areas and pertinent registry). The government has also agreed to accept community maps produced for the ancestral domain areas where these indigenous people reside.
  • The memorandum of understanding signed between the Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN, Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago) and BPN in September 2011 is an additional effort on the part of civil society organisations to focus on ways of carrying out reforms within the agrarian land sector (that includes forest land areas outside official governmental forest estate) such that the rights of indigenous people are recognised.
  • NGOs working as part of the MoFor’s Tenure Working Group have prepared a road map to achieve tenurial justice for forest land areas and are working to implement the forest tenure improvement programme.
  • There is a concerted effort to strengthen the tenure security over both forestry and nonforestry land. Not only will this significantly improve the lives of millions living in the of- ficial “forest estate” but given Indonesia’s focal status in REDD+ agenda, these reforms have placed the potential to transform rural people’s well being, forest condition as well as greenhouse gas emissions. In effect, the tenure working group provides the bottomup approach to complement the top-down initiatives like REDD+ Task Force.

World Bank land sector review The World Bank’s stock-taking of the land sector in Indonesia, a report on which is expected by September 2013, will identify priorities for donor support to land-sector reform. Early indications suggest that support may be required in several areas:

  • The proposed new Land Law and implementing regulations
  • Land Reform Plus (Agrarian Reform)
  • Procedures for recognising participatory community land mapping; to be undertaken by civil society in support of land rights of indigenous communities, especially in forest lands
  • Enhancing NSDI along with OneMap
  • Land governance, including the application of the Land Governance Assessment Framework and awareness raising of the United Nations’ Voluntary Guidelines for Land Governance
  • A comprehensive study on political economy of land.

Understanding the underlying dynamics of the political economy of land that challenge the implementation of good land governance in Indonesia is fundamental to reforms in the sector and in providing donor support. The highly political nature of agrarian reforms has seen the subject return to the centre stage of public debate. While the Indonesian government and political leaders struggle to reform land laws, local communities and local governments seem to have taken the lead in forging new relationships and patterns in land management creating new challenges for land governance. Access to nationally consistent and complete geospatial data, through OneMap, is critical to improving land governance and making government more accountable and transparent.