Developing Papua IV: A Sustainable Development Perspective

 What do you think the biggest negative effect of development, particularly in economic sector?

Even though economic development is highly needed to increase income and achieve a decent standard of living, the process may affect the environment negatively. For instance, without careful planning and implementation, infrastructure building can endanger ecosystem, so does transforming nature into a commercial plantation. This is why, instead of simply aiming for income and well-being, people must think about sustainable development.

As the name suggests, the idea of sustainable development is to do development program which can be sustained until the future generation. One of the main attention in such development is environment since human well-being depends much on it. If people do not pay attention to the environment, the effect can be huge, especially in Papua where nature and ecosystem are so rich and diverse.

In Papua, the concept of sustainable development has been implemented in some programs. You can learn about the implementation below.

Sustainable Development Goals


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the goals set for the next 15 years. Consisting 17 goals, SDGs are the commitment made by the world’s leader representing their countries or organizations. Among the 17 goals, there are several which directly related to environmental sustainability, those are:

  • Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Climate Action
  • Life below Water
  • Life on Land (Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations: 2015)

Since Indonesia is also a part of the United Nations and its government also commits to sustain the environment, SDGs are also implemented in Papua. In 2014, the Indonesian president, Mr. Joko Widodo, visited Papua and discussed the implementation of sustainable development in the region. The main reason is the fact that in the past, the government had failed to build a strong foundation of sustainable development in Papua, especially in the sector of mineral mining.

Implementation of Sustainable Development in Papua

The implementation can be seen in several programs. One of them is the natural resource management. The government takes action to evaluate the management implemented in the last several years, then implement strategies to counterattack the negative impacts found during evaluation.

Generally, the resource management strategies in Papua prioritize three keys to achieving sustainable development, those are economic efficiency, fairness, and environmental sustainability. Both central and local government encourage the managers of natural resource in Papua to prioritize those keys as well. Since the manager can be private or even overseas company, control and regulation of resource management are even stricter now.

Infrastructure building in Papua prioritizes the sustainability of its surrounding. The experts observe the environmental impact may be caused by the projects, such as the Trans Papua, clean water system, and irrigation facilities. The observation is always conducted prior to construction to minimize the possible environmental damage.

Example of such implementation is the TransFly Ecoregion program in Merauke, which is supported by World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Indonesia. TransFly is a region with good accessibility, therefore: it has potential to endanger monsoon forest once people start opening plantation in the forest illegally.

TransFly Ecoregion is presented to avoid such threat. The development of this area uses careful spatial planning and sustainable land use. The main goal is to conserve biological wealth in the region. This approach is then implemented in more areas in Papua and West Papua.

Separately, West Papua Province was declared as the “Conservation Province”, which shows that the development done in the region must comply with the conservation goal. Around 80% of the people in West Papua live in rural areas with many of them are farmers. The “Conservation” policy does not only ensure that these farmers keep the environment sustainability but also keeps the relationship between people and nature conserved.

Locals Participation in Sustainable Development

Sustainable development relies a lot on how people interact with nature so people living in the area must participate in the program. Fortunately, locals—whether they’re originally Papuans or migrating from somewhere else—have been proactive in this matter.

For instance, in another program by WWF-Indonesia called Community Forestry, the locals are proactive in getting assistance on forest management. Through the program, locals learn about how to manage their forest to increase their income without endangering nature. Rather than taking more quantity of forest products, they focus on how to make quality products. So, as an example, rather than selling woods, they make and sell furniture.

Moreover, the participation of people is not limited to only during implementation. Government or nongovernmental organization which conducts development in Papua also involves public participation in sustainable development planning since they use participative approach.

With the commitment of government, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society, sustainable development is expected to maintain the richness and beauty of nature in Papua. Nature there is important not only for locals and Indonesians but also global climate so sustainable development in Papua must remain as a top priority now and in the future.