Among the President SBY entourage at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009, Riau Governor Rusli Zainal become one of the brightest star. There are two reasons. First, the Governor’s initiative to assign the Giam Siak Kecil – Bukit Batu as a biosphere reserve and peat research center recently, was appreciated by UNESCO with a Man of the Biosphere 2009 to the Governor. An very prestigious international recognition in environment. Second, in Copenhagen, the Governor initiated the establishment of Riau Climate Change Center (RCCC), an initiative that of course has atracted supports of many parties, interstate and abroad. This article discusses about the idea of establishing the RCCC. Some suggestions will be proposed.
The Governor said that the intention to establish the RCCC was encouraged by a conciouseness that Riau has been contributing significantly to global climate change. Therefore, Riau has to be responsible. The Riau involvement consists of a long list, the most recent one is its ‘sin’ by converting peatland into plantations. As a result, Riau is cornered by the world’s community. Some strategic steps have been initiated to respond to protests from various parties such as preparing a Masterplan of Sustainable Management of Riau Peatland 2009 following the MoU between the Governor and six regencies Riau and the Ministry for Environment, in 2008. In addition, it has also made an agreement with ten Governors of Sumatra in 2009 to save Sumatra island through an ecosystem-based spatial planning, critical area restoration, and protection of conservation areas. But all these initiatives are enough, then the RCCC was conceived as an ‘ultimate movement. “
Citing the Governor, the RCCC will answer all climate change-related issues in Riau. This institution will accommodate all stakeholders including the businesses. Through the RCCC, the government will pursue in reaching the target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 26 percent in 2020. The Givernor’s idea of establishing the RCCC is a breakthrough intelligent and mush be supported.
Nevertheless, several things must be considered related to the establishment and operation of RCCC. First, climate change is the results of multifactor processes, so the mitigation and adaptation processes to be performed must be cross-sectoral. The Governor recommends stakeholders to be involved including government, business, NGOs, universities, and community leaders. But this is not enough. The Police and the National Army (TNI) must also be involved. For comparison, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States recently opened a new division called the Center on Climate Change and National Security. The CIA argued that climate change is not only harmful to the ecology, but can also lead to excesses of political, economic, and social stability in the future, mainly because the climate change could trigger competition in getting the natural resources. Other stakeholders should be inclded in the RCCC are representative of provinces in Sumatra. It is the fact that the problem of climate change cannot be localized; Riau and its neighbors share in ‘planting’ climate change and ‘harvest’ the consequences together.
Second, the RCCC should be the prime institution where the concepts of sustainable development in Riau sourced, not just as a center for the studies of climate hhange. So to ensure its effectiveness, RCCC should hold political power. On this basis, it is less appropriate if the RCCC positioned under the Environment Agency (BLH) of Riau Province, as expressed by the Governor (Tribun Pekanbaru, 18/12/2009). This position will cause a political obstacles when the RCCC’s recommendations to be implemented by all provincial and regency/city institutions. Consequently, BLH will be cornered by the public if the problem of climate change in Riau is not resolved. The situation would be better if the RCCC is directly led by the Governor while the BLH will become the leading sector.
Third, to ensure its effectiveness and the clarity of the direction of Riau development, the first product should the RCCC shape is the concept of Riau Green or whatever its name; a policy instrument of sustainable development Riau. This is in line with the 7th goal of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To be effective, Riau Green should be confirmed by a Provincial Law (Perda).
Fourth, it is true that today Riau is highlighted because the issue of deforestation, forest fires, and peatland use. But in the long term, there are other important sectors involved in climate change. Among the dominants are transportation and energy (especially electricity). The number of motor vehicles is uncontrolled and this worsens the climate. Then it is the time to aplly a high quality of mass transportation system to reduce the number of private vehicles on roads. In the electricity sector, it has been shownd that the dominance of coal and natural gas (both are the main causes of climate change) will continue. Because both causes the same bad effects as the transportation, power sector development should be developed through an energy-mix stratagy through expansion of renewable energy, particularly to electrify 60% of unelectrified population in Riau.
Fifth, in the early stages, the involvement of experts from outside the Riau in the RCCC is required for local capacity building reason. But the local experts must be given a wide space in the RCCC. Because the ‘war’ against climate change will never end. For efficiency and sustainability of the war, during the next phases the dependence on experts from outside the province should be minimised, because the front guard is the Riau people alone.
To summing up, we have a question to ask: will the problem is addressed after the RCCC formed? No guarantee! This Governor’s smart idea is only a beginning. No matter how good the work and recommendations of RCCC, will not bring any changes without real implementation. Experiences prove that we already have many policies on environment conservation, but they have not brought significant changes. One thing is obvious, the Man of Biosphere 2009 is a moral burden for us, that now we have no choice, unless to attach ecological aspects on any economic and sociopolitical development program in Riau.
Kunaifi, ST., PgDipEnSt., M.Sc.
Lecturere of Energy and Environment
at the Faculty of Science and Technology
UIN Suska Riau