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Indonesia's natural resources and the environment: Development, politics, and ecological destructionIan McClellan
Indonesia's environment has suffered extreme mismanagement over the past century, with short–term profits prioritized over environmental sustainability. Until recently, the effects of this mismanagement was contained within the country impacting its social, and economic development. However now, with research showing global climate change, the effects have a global impact due to the scale of carbon emissions produced in Indonesia and the subsequent contribution to greenhouse gases. Analysts and observers agree that Indonesia has past a point of no return regarding rehabilitation of most of its national forest cover, while pollution from mining and over-fishing is taking its toll locally, to the extent that social and political upheaval is certainly a possibility in the medium- to long-term as communities suffer a loss of livelihoods and opportunity. The Indonesian public and policy makers are aware of their predicament and this consciousness is being converted into legislation both nationally and regionally. However, corruption and the lack of a clear demarcation between central and regional responsibilities allows the degradation and destruction to continue and even accelerate. The recent increase in demand for palm oil (used as a bio-fuel particularly in Europe), further complicates the situation, as this has now become a new incentive to continue the felling of swathes of forest (legally and illegally), and the draining of boglands. This paper tracks natural resource management and extraction over the past sixty years in Indonesia by taking an approach that highlights degradation of the environment through political evolution and development models. It juxtaposes political developments (from the autocratic and corrupt regime of President Soeharto, through to the Asian financial crisis of 1998 and the beginning of democracy under the reformasi movement), against development economics theory and practice - traditional Washington Consensus policies including the involvement of the International Monetary Fund, as well as a more sustainable approach to development that incorporates multi-tiered approaches including social and environmental inputs. It highlights the paradox of accelerated ecological destruction during the recently reformed decentralized democracy, compared to the relatively controlled extraction under dictatorship, and discusses approaches for environmental sustainability, including environmental accounting, for the present and future.
Health and environmental sciences; Social sciences; History; Political science; Environmental science; 0768:Environmental science; 0615:Political science; 0332:History
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