Indonesia’s government has an ambitious target to transform the country, already the largest economy in Southeast Asia, into the fifth-largest economy in the world. But to achieve this goal, the country – one of the most populous and naturally disaster-prone nations in the world – will have to balance economic growth with environmental preservation. Let’s dive into the world of sustainability in Indonesia, exploring the country’s efforts to combat climate change, protect its forests and oceans, promote renewable energy and foster sustainable tourism.

Challenges and Opportunities

Sustainability in Indonesia has gained significant traction in recent years. Beyond the country’s densely populated regions, Indonesia is rich in wilderness areas and has been ranked the third most biodiverse country on Earth. But it is suffering a wide variety of challenges such as deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, overfishing, waste problems and natural disasters.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

As one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, Indonesia has recognised the urgent need to combat climate change. Urban areas are being affected by severe air pollution, with The Jakarta Post reporting that the capital ranked among the world’s worst cities in terms of air pollution in 2018. This is largely a result of industry and growing levels of motor vehicle emissions, as well as forest fires related to palm oil plantation development. In response, the government has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions and has implemented various initiatives, such as the REDD+ programme, which aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Additionally, Indonesia has pledged to cut its emissions by 29% by 2030, with international support.

Protecting Forests and Biodiversity

Indonesia is home to some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, including the world’s oldest rainforest and the lush jungles of Borneo and Sumatra. However, rampant deforestation for agriculture, logging and palm oil plantations have threatened these precious ecosystems.

According to Time magazine, Indonesia has recorded the highest rate of deforestation in the world, recently outstripping Brazil. To address this issue, the Indonesian government has implemented a moratorium on new licences for logging and palm oil plantations in primary forests and peatlands. Furthermore, the country has established national parks and protected areas to try to safeguard its unique flora and fauna.

Promoting Renewable Energy

Indonesia, with its abundant natural resources, has immense potential for renewable energy development, and has set a target to achieve 23% of its energy mix from renewable sources by 2025. To realise this goal, Indonesia has implemented various policies and incentives to attract investment in clean energy projects. Solar and wind energy projects have been rapidly expanding, with the government providing tax incentives and feed-in tariffs to encourage their development. Additionally, Indonesia has been exploring the potential of geothermal energy, given its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Improving Waste Management and Reducing Plastic Pollution

Indonesia, like many other countries, faces significant challenges in managing its waste and tackling plastic pollution. The country is the second-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution globally. To address this issue, Indonesia has implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags in major cities and has launched campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of waste management and recycling. Additionally, innovative solutions such as waste-to-energy plans have been introduced to tackle the problem.

Greater Water Security

Indonesia’s Vision 2045 sets out an ambitious target to transform the country into the fifth-largest economy in the world. But to achieve this, the country will have to achieve much greater water security. Given Indonesia’s range of water security challenges – spanning from water stress in Java to lack of access to safe water in Papua – the agenda on water is vast. Still, experts believe that concerted, collaborative and sustained action to combat water threats will put Indonesia’s Vision 2045 firmly within reach.

Restoring Fish Stocks

Related to sea health, Indonesia is suffering from overfishing too. Fish are a crucial part of the marine ecosystem in the country. They contribute to the food chain and the overall well-being of the ocean and are a key source of food and livelihood. But the country is seeing it fish stocks decline. Indonesia has set itself the goal of making its fishing industry sustainable by 2025. While a lack of monitoring makes this a challenging target, projects such as Fish for Good aim to guide fisheries on their journey towards sustainability, giving them the support and tools to improve fishing practices and restore healthy fish stocks.

Fostering Sustainable Tourism

Tourism plays a significant role in Indonesia’s economy, yet it poses environmental challenges. The country has been working towards promoting sustainable tourism to minimise the negative impacts on the environment and local communities. Initiatives such as the Green Destinations programme encourage sustainable practices in popular tourist destinations. Furthermore, community-based tourism initiatives empower local communities and ensure that the benefits are shared. Responsible acts to support sustainability in Indonesia extend to visitors too. Our team can recommend the best eco-friendly accommodations to stay in, and we offset 100% of the carbon from all our flights and ground transportation which goes towards helping to preserve Indonesia’s stunning destinations for the future.

As you can see, the journey towards sustainability in Indonesia is far from over. Continued efforts, collaboration and individual actions are essential. If you’re interested in travelling responsibly, we can let you know about destinations, properties and experiences that are helping Indonesia towards its sustainability goals.  

Contact one of our Indonesia specialists