Developing a Low-Emission Area: The Case of West Papua

West Papua
Source : Jubi

The public concern about emissions is getting higher as the effect of global warming becomes more palpable. Thus, development planning is designed based on sustainability and low-emission concepts. West Papua is in work to be a province that adopts those values in its development programs. 

West Papua
Source : WRI Indonesia

The Current State of the Province

Developing a province that produces a low rate of emission is not only related to the environmental practices in that area. The implications are really broad, particularly because there are two-way relationships between the environment and other intangible aspects of society.

The following points show the current state of this Papua province in regards of its sustainable development:

  • Forest and peatland

When discussing the physical environment in this province, forest and peatland are two major issues that must be talked about. Forest is a big point in sustainable development because 90% of this province is covered by vegetation. Luckily, the rate of deforestation is very low and should be maintained that way.

It is quite the opposite for the peatland. Despite occupying a smaller portion of land, emission produced by its degradation contributes up to 55% more than deforestation. This indicates a severe condition that must be solved as soon as possible.

  • The growth of GDP

GDP is also another part of sustainable, low-emission development that West Papua needs to pay attention to. Over the last ten years, the province has notably grown in terms of GDP. In 2008, it was even named the leading province in export. Most of its GDP comes from mining.

The mining activity itself has always been a concern in sustainable development. Based on current trends, low-emission mining is something difficult to achieve without proper planning. It is especially apparent in countries that rely mainly on mining for their national income.

  • Wealth distribution

This is another point rarely associated with sustainable development but has a close tie to it. Unfortunately, based on 2017 data, the wealth distribution in the province remained unequal. The poverty rate in rural areas was found to be as high as 35%. Wealth is mainly concentrated in urban locations.

Poverty impacts emission production greatly. Because of the low quality of life, people are likely to put more pressure on the environment. It often manifests into behaviors like improper waste disposal and over-exploitation of available natural resources. It is an urgent matter since 68% of the population lives in rural areas.

  • Education quality

The quality of education is also known to be related to sustainable development. There are many ways in which education can transform the trajectory of regional development. It helps change one’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards a better way of living.

Unfortunately, this province still has many tasks to improve its education system. There is an effort to improve higher education by providing funding to universities. Local students are also given chances to get higher degrees inside and outside the region.

Future Policies in West Papua

The government has already made plans about the right future policies to adopt if they want to squash down the emission in this province. Here are some of those policies:

  • Special Autonomy

The first one is related to the region’s Special Autonomy status. Based on this status, the province is given more authority to create policies that are contextual to their region. Additionally, every province that receives this status is allowed special funding from the central government to make improvements. It can include low-emission acts.

  • Infrastructure development

In the past decade, the government has made a pledge to improve the infrastructure in this region. The aim is to make public facilities more accessible for many people. Higher accessibility will lead to equal wealth distribution so that people in rural areas can have a better quality of life.

  • Conservation Province

The local government has made a pledge to become a conservation province. It is committed to maintaining 70% of its land and sea area through the Manokwari Declaration. That area is protected, which means that the ecological system should not be disrupted in any manner.

  • Improvement in education

There is also an awareness that human resources must be improved to make changes possible. Knowledgeable and skilled locals will be able to implement the new policies in day to day lives. The education must start from the primary level to the higher level.

If these policies work properly, there are many benefits that people can obtain, including:

  • Reduced emission at a significant level, adhering to the international agreement
  • Encouraging the participation of local people in national development, improving cohesiveness
  • Reducing pressure on the forest with the improvement of fishery and marine industries
  • Increasing potential for investment which will boost the region’s economic advances
  • Becoming a pioneer region in low-emission development that other provinces should follow

West Papua has a huge potential to be developed in a sustainable way. Many parts of its land remain untouched and thus can be developed responsibly. All it takes is careful planning.