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Mapping environmental conflicts and cooperation

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Protests against Palm Oil in Indonesia

Type of conflict main
Intensity 3
Region
South Eastern Asia
Time 1985 ‐ ongoing
Countries Indonesia
Resources Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Forests
Conflict Summary Increasing demand for palm oil for use in biofuels, amongst other products, has led to drastic increases in land grabbing and deforestation in Indonesia....
Protests against Palm Oil in Indonesia
Increasing demand for palm oil for use in biofuels, amongst other products, has led to drastic increases in land grabbing and deforestation in Indonesia. Indigenous communities and regional and international NGOs, as well as environmentalists, have protested against the expansion of palm oil production in Indonesia. In some cases, community resistance has caused casualties. There has been little legal progress in slowing down the rates of land grabbing, displacement, and deforestation.
Conceptual Model

Intermediary Mechanisms

Land grabbing and deforestation has devastated the livelihoods of indigenous communities who rely on the rainforest.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

The displacement of local communities and the destruction of natural habitats have provoked international resistance against the palm oil industry and local conflict. The situation has also led to violent inter-ethnic competition for land. Government authorities continue to promote land grabbing by granting palm oil companies plantation rights over community lands.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversEconomic developments lead to changes in land use.Economic activity causes pollution.Environmental policies encourage land use change.Changes in land use lead to migration/displacements.Changes in land use reduce available/usable land.Land scarcity undermines the livelihoods of agricultural producers.Pollution reduces available/usable land.Migration leads to conflicts between migrants and residents.Problems related to migration/displacements lead to growing discontent with the state.Livelihood insecurity fuels grievances between groups.Livelihood insecurity leads to growing discontent with the state.A broad concept to cover economic growth in general but also specific economic changes or changes of incentives.Economic DevelopmentA change in the usage of environmentally relevant land.Land Use ChangePollution and degradation of ecosystems, such as coral reefs.Pollution / Environmental DegradationImplementation of environmental/climate policies, such as REDD+, climate adaptation or the promotion of crop-based biofuel development.Environmental / Climate Policies(In)voluntary long and short-term movements of people within or across state boundaries.Displacements / MigrationReduced availability of/ access to land.Increased Land ScarcityA threat or destruction of livelihoods dependent on the availability of environmental resources / goods.Livelihood InsecurityNon-violent or violent tensions and conflicts between different societal groups.Grievances between Societal GroupsChallenge to the state's legitimacy, ranging from peaceful protest to violent attempts at overthrowing the government.Anti-State Grievances
Context Factors
  • Insecure Land Tenure
  • Unresponsive Government
Conflict History

Indonesia is the world's largest palm oil producer and has experienced dramatic increases in deforestation to accommodate increasing demand for palm oil for biofuel and other products in the food and cosmetic industries. Displacement of local residents and the destruction of natural habitats have been issues, which have provoked international NGO criticism and local conflict (see also Palm Oil Conflict in Kalimantan in Indonesia). The resistance against displacement and deforestation for palm oil plantations has been violent and, in some cases, divided citizens along ethnic lines, reinforcing ethnic tension left from the colonial era.

Palm oil production and deforestation
Between 1985 and 2014, the area of palm oil plantations in Indonesia has expanded from 600,000 ha to between 8.1 and 11.5 million ha (Hadinaryanto, 2014). In 2014, Indonesia was recognised as having the largest deforestation rate in the world, making it one of the world's largest carbon emitter with 85% of its carbon coming from deforestation alone (Vidal, 2014). The region of Kalimantan is Indonesia's second largest palm oil producer and has witnessed the impact of land grabbing and deforestation on social cohesion and stability. Between 2001 and 2012, palm oil plantations in Kalimantan increased from just fewer than 100,000 ha to over 300,000 ha (Vidal, 2014). Rapid deforestation has destroyed the livelihoods of the indigenous Dayak communities who traditionally use the rainforest for rubber tapping.

Numerous conflicts over land
In 2008, 513 active conflicts concerning palm oil were recorded in Indonesia - 166 of which were in Kalimantan (Fon Achobang et al., 2013). In 2012, 439 conflicts involving palm oil companies and communities were recorded in Kalimantan (Hadinaryanto, 2014). Numerous cases of torture, kidnappings and murders amongst other human rights abuses conducted by mercenaries hired by palm oil companies have been recorded in palm oil conflict (Klawitter, 2014). The effects of land grabbing and deforestation on local communities and their livelihoods have led to inter-ethnic competition for land. For example, ethnic tensions and historical conflict for land between the Christian Dayak and Muslim Maudrese communities in Kalimantan have led to violent skirmishes, as land resources dwindle in the context of proliferating palm oil plantations (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2010).

International and local resistance
Resistance against the palm oil industry in Indonesia has been international, for example, protestors staged a peaceful demonstration outside the headquarters of Unilever (a large consumer of palm oil for cosmetic products) in 2011 (Klawitter, 2014). Legal avenues have also been taken by local communities who resist palm oil cultivation and habitat destruction. However, little is being done by the central government to reduce land grabbing and deforestation and palm oil plantations continue to grow, thus fueling conflict with, and between, locals.

Resolution Efforts

Attempts of the public authorities
Government authorities have taken little initiative to reduce deforestation and land grabbing in Indonesia. In fact, they promote land grabbing by granting palm oil companies plantation rights over community lands. Although some regional governments have attempted to improve land rights to regulate deforestation and reduce land grabbing, a lack of effective enforcement and corruption means that attempts remain largely ineffective (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2010). For example, following violence in Kalimantan in 2001, the regional government established the legal status of customary land ownership, known as adat. However, despite this decree, adat lands in West Kalimantan were virtually eliminated within three years, dwindling from 6.9 million hectares in 2003 to a scarce 60,000 hectares in 2006 (Sirait, 2009).

International initiatives
International initiatives have also been established, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Initiatives (RSPO). This was established by NGOs and stakeholders, such as Unilever, in 2004, which continues today to act as a mediator between RSPO members and local communities. However, many companies, despite being members of RSPO, continue business as usual and conflicts are left unsettled (Fon Achobang et al., 2013).

Mediation efforts
Some steps have been taken by Indonesian authorities to mitigate the overall conflict between ethnic groups in palm oil hot spots, such as opening more police stations. Unfortunately, efforts to encourage/mediate negotiations between Maudrese and Dayak communities failed and no long-term initiative to promote peace between the groups has been taken. Greater centralised leadership on the issue of land grabbing for palm oil plantations within the framework of land rights reform and forest protection strategies must be taken on the national level, in conjunction with greater dialogue between ethnic groups at a community level to reduce the occurrence and likelihood of violence.

Intensities & Influences
conflict intensity scale
Intensities
International / Geopolitical Intensity
Human Suffering

Influences
Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Manifest Crisis
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation National
Mass Displacement Less than 100.000 and less than 10% of the country's population are displaced within the country.
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Resources
Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Forests
Resolution Success
Resolve of displacement problems Displacement continues to cause discontent and/or other problems.
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future The capacity to address grievances in the future has increased.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been mostly ignored.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity There has been no reduction in intensity
General opencollapse
Country Data in Comparison
ConflictNoData Created with Sketch.
Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties
Purely Environmental | Cultural   ♦   Occupational   ♦   Economic   ♦   Urban / Rural   ♦   National / International conflict   ♦   Sub-national political


Actors
Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Dayak communities
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Maudrese communities
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Unilever
Functional GroupCommercial
Geographical ScaleExternal
Palm oil companies
Functional GroupCommercial
Geographical ScaleExternal
NGOs
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Indonesian government
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
1 Mediation & arbitration The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Initiatives (RSPO) was established by NGOs and stakeholders to act as a mediator. However, many companies continue business as usual and conflicts are left unsettled.
1 Social inclusion & empowerment Some regional governments have attempted to improve land rights to regulate deforestation and reduce land grabbing. However, lack of effective enforcement and corruption means that attempts remain largely ineffective.
0 Improving state capacity & legitimacy Greater centralised leadership on the issue of land grabbing for palm oil plantations within the framework of land rights reform and forest protection strategies must be taken on the national level.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Common-pool resource: No one can be excluded from use but the good is depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Asymmetric: The power to affect the environmental resource is unequal.
Broad conflict characterization Resource Capture is present.
Ecological Marginalization is present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
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