- Indonesia will be hosting the 2022 G20 Bali Summit this November.
- Climate change will be one of the key topics of discussion, with Indonesia’s mangrove forests set to take centre stage as a solution to decarbonising the world.
- Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo had kicked off early efforts to save Indonesia’s precious mangroves in 2013.
Indonesia is home to the world’s largest extent of mangrove forest at approximately 3.36 million hectares. That holds about 3.1 billion tons of carbon — enough to fill 1.24 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“Approximately 20 percent of the total mangrove forests in the world is in our country.” – Joko Widodo
Capturing massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (carbon sequestration) is vital in combating the ever-growing spectre of climate change. But the country has been losing these forests at an alarming rate, with the Center on International Forestry Research (CIFOR) estimating Indonesia had lost 40 percent of its mangroves in the past three decades.
“Approximately 20 percent of the total mangrove forests in the world is in our country,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo after planting mangroves with residents in the Riau Islands in September of last year.
“However, the most important thing is how to maintain, how to care for, how to rehabilitate the damaged ones so that our mangrove forests are truly protected.”
The upcoming G20 Summit, scheduled to take place in Bali, November 2022, will offer hosts Indonesia a platform to pledge its strong commitment to fighting climate change, and Widodo is expected to invite other world leaders to tour mangrove conservation areas in the region during the summit.
Cristiano Ronaldo – sustainability trailblazer
The November Bali summit will not be the first time global attention has been drawn to Indonesia’s mangroves and the country’s sustainability drive however.
Almost nine years ago to this day, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo was in Bali to lend his support to a worthy cause that is dear to his heart – mangrove conservation.
“I hope that my actions in Bali today can inspire the movement to rescue the mangroves and help improve the environment” – Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese player’s drawing power was on show, as none other than then-Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was in attendance.
“It’s an honour for me to return to Indonesia.” Ronaldo said as he planted a symbolic mangrove sapling.
“I hope that my actions in Bali today can inspire the movement to rescue the mangroves and help improve the environment.”
The importance of mangroves
Indonesia’s mangroves – shrubs and trees that grow in coastal saline or brackish waters – amount to more than a quarter of the world’s mangrove population and help buffer coastal communities against tsunamis and storms.
They also serve as carbon sinks, storing up to four times as much carbon as other tropical forests.
The Southeast Asian country’s efforts to protect its mangroves are vital in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; much of the country’s emissions come from deforestation and land-use change, including the clearing of mangroves for shrimp and fish farms.
Saving Indonesia’s mangrove forests
To this end, Widodo extended the mandate of the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) through to 2024, after it expired at the end of 2020. Aside from valuable peatland, the agency will also have to rehabilitate 600,000 hectares of degraded mangrove and has been renamed the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM).
Billed as the most ambitious mangrove rehabilitation program in the world, BRGM’s efforts in 2021 got off to a slightly disappointing start as they managed to restore just 34,911 hectares of mangrove, or less than 6% of the total target in its first year.
“There’s still a lot of work that we have to do until 2024, considering that our target is 600,000 hectares,” said Satyawan Pudyatmoko, BRGM deputy for planning and evaluation.
In an effort to help boost conservation efforts, BRGM secretary Ayu Dewi Utari told The Straits Times in March that the agency is trying to secure funding from the World Bank this year.
The proposed partnership with the World Bank is expected to kick off this year and run till 2026, focusing on four Indonesian regions that have suffered the worst damage: Riau, North Sumatra as well as East and North Kalimantan.
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