Seeking genuine agrarian reform in Indonesia and ensuring no regress on the attained process

Monday, 5th June 2017

As Indonesia is entering its second year of its NES (National Engagement Strategy), departing from the lessons learnt from the year one implementation, the priority areas are now correspond to the ILC commitments on people-selected land governance (PCLG), dealing with strong small-scale farming systems, inclusive decision-making, transparent and accessible information, and protection for land rights defenders. 

With the main goals of realizing people-land centered governance through genuine pro-poor agrarian reform in government agendas, policies and practices, nationally and locally, the second year of NES Indonesia broadly strategically focus on empowering the capacity and solidify focus of communities, CSOs, governments, academics and other land-related actors for genuine pro-poor agrarian reform implementation at the local and national levels; gaining official recognition of participatory developed maps by communities for lands managed and conserved by them, under government policies and regulations; and building on the 2018 Global Land Forum and Assembly of Members to be held in Indonesia to highlight and maintain focus on genuine agrarian and redistributive land reforms in government agendas, policies and practices.

Previous Accomplishment 

When Indonesian President Joko Widodo was elected in 2014, Indonesian CSOs successfully came together to set up a National Conference on Agrarian Reform (KNRA). The conference resulted in a: (1) White Paper on  Agrarian Reform in Indonesia; (2) Resolution of KNRA; and (3) Establishment of a presidium of KNRA participants, which later came to be known as the National Committee for Agrarian Reform (KNPA). The mission of KNPA is to follow-up conference decisions and outputs with the Jokowi government, with respect to agrarian reform.

The agenda change for agrarian reform has been noted by the NES members and partners. The Jokowi administration has promised to redistribute 9 million hectares of land, which was included in the National Mid- Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2014-2019. The administration was bestowing the country with the sweetest New Year’s gift ever by amplifying the acknowledgment of nine “customary forests”, encompass a total of 13,100 hectares (32,370 acres) of land.

Have any of these bring the genuine agrarian reform in the country?

Unfortunately, in many aspects these plans for implementation, and actual enforcement have yet to be realized. The President has formed a new agrarian ministry and promised a new agency to handle agrarian disputes, yet new institutions will not suffice without concrete actions to improve governance and clarify the land rights.

Moreover, there is uncertainty at the grassroots level on agrarian reform implementation in indigenous lands, resources and territories. In this context, it is important to involve groups working on customary forest ownerships, and social forestry scheme for all islands except Java and Bali, in understanding their perspectives and relations to agrarian reform. As is known, only 9 indigenous territories have been recognized as customary forest lands, but there have been problems in this recognition. Moreover, while more than 12 million hectares have been promised as forest lands, there is uncertainty of under what program or scheme that this would fall in. These issues thereby are vital opportunities and challenges for KNPA to be involved in.

What will NES bring to the agrarian reform issue in Indonesia?

As such, until the end of this Presidential term in 2019, the priority of the national CSO platform on agrarian reform is to build progress on the actual implementation of consolidated government plans and programs towards this end, especially in conflict areas. By supporting the creation of a solid legal base for agrarian reform, recording areas through participatory mapping, providing trainings to communities and rural women and men to gain their respective rights, campaigning and linking with media and research institutes to build public awareness as well as create political interest, and by monitoring progress on these various fronts, changes in political behavior and practices towards actual implementation of agrarian reform is expected. Furthermore, it is important that progress achieved in this period does not regress back.

From 2019 to the end of this second stage of the NES in 2021, the aim of the NES is also to influence future Presidential campaigns and priorities to enhance the work of agrarian reform begun in this era.

 Discover the figures reflected on the land-based conflicts in the country thought 2016.