By: I Made Diangga Adika Karang
Indonesia has just begun another of its prominent roles overseas. It is hosting another meeting of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLPEP) on the post-2015 development agenda in Bali, from 25-27 March.
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has appointed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cochair the panel, along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. The meetings have previously been held in New York, London, and Monrovia.
The inception of the HLPEP signifies the commitment and awarness of state parties to achieve their foremost objectives for 2015, namely the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), and the future of the MDGs after 2015. Accordingly, the panel focuses on poverty eradication and promotion of sustainable development.
Why was Indonesia appointed as cochair? The UN Secretary-General affirms that the work of the panel will reflect new development challenges while also drawing on experience gained in implementing the MDGs, both in terms of results achieved and areas for improvement.
This statement implies that Indonesia has a perceivably good record in attaining its MDGs. For example, since 1990, Indonesia has been able to reduce the number of people living in poverty, from 20.6 percent in 1990 to 11.9 percent in 2012.
Nevertheless, the cochairmanship job poses challenges and opportunities. Indonesia’s key means of tackling poverty lies in its capacity to manage population growth.
The scarcity of basic needs, such as food and energy, is the challenge while a population explosion occurs. The more the population grows, the more scarcity strikes the country, thus poverty is seemingly inevitable.
“On the population factor, our success in tackling poverty depends on our success in managing our population growth. The global population has increased by 2 billion in less than three decades, surpassing 7 billion in 2011. Such a scale of population growth will impact on our ability to provide food, energy, and other basic services,” said President Yudhoyono.
Critics say that Indonesia still suffers from poverty. Although the poverty rate has decreased, the number of families living on or below the poverty line remains significant.
The World Bank reported that in Indonesia, 75 percent of low-income workers were in the informal sector; more than 60 percent of poor families depended on income from agriculture; 55 percent of the poor had limited primary education and 16 percent were illiterate; and 50 percent of the poor lacked access to clean water (The Jakarta Post, Feb. 13, 2012).
However, Indonesia is not dismissive about tackling stumbling blocs to poverty alleviation. Accordingly, Indonesia has established the Master Plan for Expediting Poverty Eradication (MP3K) aimed at achieving a poverty level below 6 percent by 2025, as well as the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI) which focuses on accelerating the infrastructure development process.
These measures represent Indonesia’s commitment to the post-2015 agenda which integrates economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection, as prescribed in the communiqué from the meeting in Monrovia.
Despite the challenges, the position as the cochair allows some opportunities. The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) has entrusted Indonesia with conducting multi-stakeholder dialogues and inclusive consultations.
As a result, these consultations will allow the UN in Indonesia to present to the UNDG a synthesis of voices from across the country at a grassroots level, as well as at both the national and sub-national levels.
For Indonesia, this crucial role will help to improve economic and social measures to eradicate poverty. The President has emphasized that measures should focus on human development which include education, health, equality for girls and women, as well as infrastructure, job creation, social protection, accountability, justice and non-violence.
Consistent with the focus of the post-2015 development agenda — poverty reduction and sustainable development — the “blue economy” can be one of the alternatives. Gunter Pauli promotes the blue economy as an instrument to generate value, jobs and social capital in order to build initiatives that respond to the needs of the people and compete in the world market.
In other words, the blue economy can help local communities to employ all their available resources, bringing them into production and consumption activities with minimal social and environmental costs (The Jakarta Post, March 11).
Moreover, Indonesia could articulate more deeply ideas and solutions — including but not limited to the blue economy — for sustainable economic development along with the broad participation of many stakeholders.
For instance, the Bali regional meeting on the post-2015 development agenda which opens today will be a valuable channel to promote the solutions to youth, civil society and the business community; hence, the principles of social inclusion and economic growth can be exercised hand-in-hand through this proposal.
Now it is time for Indonesia to renew its commitment to the MDGs. By being the cochair it has the motivation for the country to develop, even though challenges and opportunities remain. Thus, Indonesia’s leadership in the post-2015 development agenda should articulate those challenges and opportunities in order to fulfill its commitment to the MDGs.
Footnote: This article opinion has been displayed in an online newspaper, The Jakarta Post, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday, 27 March 2013; and in Paper Edition, it is available at Page: 7. For original and full article is able also to be visited at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/03/27/indonesia-s-leadership-post-2015-agenda.html [accessed in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia: 27 March 2013].
The writer is a researcher at the international relations department, Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung.