Climate Change and the Role of Districts

The public has recognized the issue of climate change and its impacts. Indonesia’s seriousness in addressing the issue of climate change has been proven by ratifying the Paris Agreement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This commitment is then comprehensively translated or integrated into planning documents at the national level. The public has also urged that the central government and local governments must also take action to address climate change.

Unfortunately, when it was relegated to the sub-nationals, the commitment stopped at the provincial level. The authority related to climate change mitigation and adaptation is not shared with the district government. However, real action related to climate change must occur at the district level because the district government is one of the closest administrative regions to the community.

At the national level, commitments to the Paris Agreement have been ratified under Law Number 16 of 2016. Furthermore, efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement have been detailed in a recognized document called the Nationally Determined Commitment (NDC), which was also registered with the UNFCCC.

If we examine planning documents at the national level, climate change mitigation and adaptation measures have been significantly integrated into the 2014-2019 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJM) or technocratic design 2020-2014. The related sectors have also explicitly translated the climate change mitigation and adaptation targets in their respective strategic plan documents (renstra).

Since Indonesia’s commitment is reflected in the planning documents, the public can also be confident of the Government of Indonesia’s real efforts to take concrete actions related to climate change. The central government must budget and implement the action plan. Annually, the public can monitor the achievements of these efforts in the performance reports of ministries and institutions.

However, this spirit only stopped at the provincial level. Law on Local Government No. 23/2014, which divides authority between the central, provincial, and district/city governments, does not mention, let alone regulate, the authority regarding climate change. Regulation of Minister of Home Affairs No 86/2017, which is a reference for regions to draw up their development plans, provides a menu list of performance indicators for local governments.

On climate change, Regulation of Minister of Home Affairs No 86/2017 emphasizes that the provincial government may take provincial action to mitigate and adapt to climate change and greenhouse gas inventories. Districts, unfortunately, do not have the authority; therefore, there are no performance indicators related to climate change that can be done in the Regional Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJM), let alone budgeted in the Local Budget (APBD).

If searched carefully, districts that are serious about taking action on climate change can use the opportunities provided in the Environmental Management and Protection Plan (RPPLH), which can contain climate change adaptation and mitigation plans.

This RPPLH is expressly mandated by the Law on Environment No. 32/2009 and detailed in Regulation of Minister of Home Affairs No 86/2017. Unfortunately, subordinate regulations regarding RPPLH are still in an ongoing process.

The Authority of Districts

The local government that wants to do something related to climate change must wait until the national regulations related to the RPPLH are resolved. Or, merely waiting, perhaps there are activities funded by the central government’s task assistance fund that does not require viability gap funds from the Local Budget.

Without a doubt, regions that are serious about the issue of climate change are better off avoiding the risk of administrative violations rather than forcing them to carry out climate change action activities in their RPJMD or Local Budget.

Many argue that districts do not need to make efforts related to climate change. One rationale is due to limited capacity, both human and fiscal resources. At present, affairs related to the forestry sector have also been withdrawn to the provincial level, leaving only matters related to the forest park to the district.

Some actions related to climate change, such as the waste sector, have been shared to the district level so that if the region is serious on its commitment, it may use its little authority to contribute to climate change actions.

The example provided by Regulation of Minister of Home Affairs No 7/2018 on the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Regional RPJM provides a basis for the argument that it is necessary to involve district governments in achieving national commitments. Regulation of Minister of Home Affairs No. 7/2018 requires local governments, including districts, to seriously consider how Indonesia can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

With limited capacity, the district governments are forced to learn about SDGs and try to achieve SDG with all their limitations. It is hoped that one or two districts will innovate and become examples for other districts in achieving SDG from this learning process.

Decentralization, which is the delegation of authority to local government, is based on the theory that the district government is the head of the administrative area closest to the community that needs to be provided with public services.

The district government is the best authority in understanding the needs of their constituents compared to the higher level of government; therefore, the implementation of real actions that engage the community must be done at the district level. Regarding climate change, at least the district government must be involved in climate change adaptation measures to ensure that their people have the resilience to face an increasingly uncertain climate.

Agricultural extension workers who are currently under the district government command must understand the increasingly extreme climate and weather variability to provide farmers accurate information about the rice planting calendar to prevent losses due to weather or uncertain seasons. This condition certainly can only be realized if the central government shares the authority of climate change to the district level.

Silvia Irawan Executive Director of Inovasi Bumi (Inobu)

This article has been published on Kompas and can be seen at the following link: https://kompas.id/baca/utama/2019/07/22/perubahan-iklim-dan-peran-kabupaten-2/

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