Indonesia is among the world’s largest contributor of greenhouse gases. But the vast majority of Indonesia’s emissions do not come from fossil fuels—instead, they come from the clearing and burning of millions of hectares of forests and peatlands to develop monoculture plantations. Due to a lack of clarity over land rights, conflict between companies and communities threatens the millions of Indonesians in over thirty thousand rural villages that depend directly on the country’s forests for their livelihoods.
The land clearing fires contribute to climate pollution and negatively affect Indonesia’s economy, environment, and global reputation. The fires also have devastating consequences for people’s health, both in Indonesia and in neighboring countries. Given that Indonesia is particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of climate change—including rising sea levels, famines, floods, and extreme weather patterns—the stakes are high.
To transition away from unsustainable land use and towards clear land rights, strong governance, and rule of law, Indonesia will need new approaches and strategies that prioritize emissions reductions alongside sustainable development goals. With international support from the public and private sector, Indonesia can be a powerful example of how economic growth, climate change mitigation, and human rights protections can go hand in hand—benefiting the nation, its people, and the planet.