Supporting Green Growth in Indonesia

Indonesia has had vibrant economic growth over the past few decades, lifting millions of people out of poverty. This historic economic success came at a high environmental cost – deforestation and pollution have placed immense pressure on Indonesia’s megadiverse ecosystems. Over-reliance on fossil fuels has made the Southeast Asian giant, and the world’s fourth most populous country, one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters on the globe.

In the face of these factors, advancing to a greener economy in Indonesia is vital.

Redefining Economic Success

Economic success globally, not unlike Indonesia’s, often comes with a high price. In pursuit of profits and economic growth, many countries sacrifice precious natural resources and put environmental sustainability on the back burner. Using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the yardstick for progress, the model fails to account for the destruction of nature as part of the trade-off for growth. In the GDP model, the G refers to ‘gross’ and not ‘net’ – in this instance, it fails to accurately reflect the depreciation of assets and the extent to which a country is utilising tomorrow’s resources to consume today. In essence, the future of a country becomes precarious as present-day economic practices go into overdraft against the continuously dwindling resources that surround us. 

This need to reimagine and redefine what economic success is requires that policymaking takes environmental factors into account. Current existing models such as the Genuine Progress Indicator, System of Environmental-Economic Accounting, and even the concept of Green GDP, all do an adequate job of tallying up a country’s fiduciary and environmental balance sheet.

Policies that Sought to Make a Change

Many might ask, where we ought to begin on this tenuous journey to support Green Growth in Indonesia. The first step is clear – switching from coal-based electricity to renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Take reference from pre-existing initiatives such as the concept of renewable energy certificates – in November 2020, PLN launched renewable energy certificates in order to promote the use of electricity from renewable energy sources. Private consumers or companies seeking to demonstrate their commitment to pivoting towards renewable energy could participate directly by purchasing renewable energy through these certificates. Despite Indonesia’s energy mix only being 13.83% renewable as of April 2021 (hydropower contributing to 7.9%, geothermal 5.6%, and other forms of renewable energy 0.33% of the energy mix),  there is further room to push this number even higher and completely wean the country off its dependence on fossil fuels for energy.      

Another step toward Green Growth in Indonesia takes the form of the One Map Initiative. A collaborative initiative that works to accelerate efforts to solve land-related conflicts, improve people’s livelihoods through a more equitable land distribution as well as support the local government and private sectors to implement sustainability principles in their activities. The goal of the One Map Initiative is to merge 85 thematic maps of the archipelago’s 34 provinces into one map, with local communities involved to help settle conflicting claims. A unified map of initiatives provides a consolidated direction for national policies to take place. However, this initiative is far from perfect, as it fails to include indigenous lands presently.

Doing Our Part As a Collective

Change can only truly happen when organisations and individuals spark movement together. From governments, industries and corporations to the average Joe – everyone has to do their part in the fight against climate change, as we work towards a greener and more sustainable tomorrow.

With Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG taking precedence, I’m always looking to create opportunities for a greener economy.


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