Indonesia’s Environmental Diplomacy in the South China Sea

  Indonesia’s foreign policy 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, the issues on environment have a broad aspect, from the issues of our daily life to global economic and politics, from environment in our neighborhood to the issues of climate change. Talking about environmental 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 regard, we could understand if Indonesia puts issues on environment on their foreign policy and promotes bilateral and multilateral cooperation actively.

To show that Indonesia foreign policy adopted environmental issues, on December 2007 Indonesia conducted United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC)/Conference of the Parties (COP) 13 in Bali. Through this activity, Indonesia is showing its concern on environmental 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 for Indonesia to implement 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, People’s Republic of China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam, have claims in this region and some of them have sent their military force to the conflict areas.

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.  In this regard, I was lucky to be one of the participants in this exhibition.  During the two-week expedition,  I observed that they obtained over 3.000 specimens representing a large diversity of plant and animal species. Many were new records for the area, and some were new to science.

I also observed that the expedition itself not only a trip to explore biodiversity, it also promoted regional scientific collaboration among claimant countries in the South China Sea. The expedition made history, as it was the first that got scientists from all claimant countries of the South China Sea working together.

From Indonesia’s experience, we noticed that environmental issues were already factors included in the Indonesian foreign policy, set up as a part of the Indonesia conflict prevention programmes. 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.

3 Responses to Indonesia’s Environmental Diplomacy in the South China Sea

  1. Hello-
    Greetings from the island of Bali-
    this is my first visit…
    and i really love your articles..
    i think i can get more lessons here..
    thanks for sharing..
    dont forget to visit me back…
    see you…

  2. xray says:

    nice info. thanks for share.

  3. attayaya says:

    wah kalo blog mas aris yg ini baru bikin kepalaku pusing
    boso linggis seeeeh

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