The issues on environment itself have a broad aspect, from the issues of our daily life to global economic and politics, from environment in our neighbourhood to the issues of climate change. In this regard, I am trying to share information and views on the Indonesian foreign policy and its relation to environment.
Indonesia’s foreign policy, like that of any other country, is shaping by various factors such as the nation’s history, its geographic conditions, its demography and its security and national interest. These factors prompted Indonesia to adopt a foreign policy that is independent and active.
As we may aware, environmental issues part of global issues, which related to issues such as biodiversity, climate change and global warming, genetically engineered etc. Talking about those issues, we can say that all of those issues connected to the Indonesia’s national interest. Combating environmental degradation should be a key strategic. In this connection, Indonesia puts issues on environment on their foreign policy and promotes bilateral and multilateral cooperation actively.
Referring to this condition, we could understand that finally the United Nation has appointed Indonesia as a host country for the UNFCC/COP 13 meeting in Bali on 3-14 December 2007. This is a big achievement for Indonesian foreign policy. It shows that Indonesia is not conducting foreign policy conventionally as it is, but also concern to the global issues and trying to find out solutions to solve the problems.
Looking to the history of the Indonesian foreign policy, actually this is not the first time Indonesia put environmental issues in its foreign policy. For instance, following the high of political tension in the South China Sea in 1990’s, Indonesia came up with the idea to conduct an informal meeting, which involves representatives and scientist from claimant countries as an individual.
At that time, the disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea remain a dangerous source of potential conflict in the absence of preventive measures to forestall a military or political crisis. Six claimant countries, Brunei Darussalam, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam, have claims in this region and some of them have sent their military force to the region.
In order to minimize the future risk in the region, in 1990 Indonesia conducted Workshop on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea. The participants come from representatives and scientists from claimant countries to discuss possible cooperation in environmental sector such as biodiversity. After a series of meeting, finally the workshop agreed to conduct a join research on biodiversity in 2002.
The first joint research was in March 2002, scientists from the South China Sea region conducted a major biodiversity expedition, called Anambas expedition, to the waters of the Anambas and Natuna Islands in Indonesia. The two-week expedition obtained over 3000 specimens representing a large diversity of plant and animal species. Many were new records for the area, and some were new to science.
The expedition itself turned out to be more than a scientific mission. Not only was Exercise Anambas a trip to explore biodiversity, it also served a political purpose, to promote regional scientific collaboration among countries surrounding the South China Sea. The expedition made history, as it was the first that got scientists from different countries of the South China Sea working together.
From Indonesian experience, we can notice that environmental issues are already factors included in the Indonesian foreign policy, set up as a part of the Indonesia conflict prevention programme. Indonesia has considered integrating environmental aspects in all programmes and policies.
In order to increase their capabilities, in the future Indonesia should take environmental issues in a strategic way than before, linking green issues closer to economic relations. Since an environmental issue is only one of many issues, Indonesia needs coherent strategies for its bilateral and multilateral relations with develop countries, others large emerging economies as well as international organizations.
Notes: for my other posts on environmental issues, please click on Labels: lingkungan (in Indonesian language).