As Indonesia enters the 2019 political year—where parliamentary and presidential elections take place—Jaringan Advokasi Tambang (Mining Advocacy Network / JATAM) is vigilant of coal and mineral rent based political financing practices, an opportunity where mining and coal businessmen converge with the political interests of legislative candidates, political parties, and even presidential candidates, due to the need of sponsors and financial support.

At the same time, global concerns are spreading over stagnant efforts to end coal activities in many global initiatives, such as climate change negotiations. One of the highlights of the 24th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiation in Katowice,
Poland was a protest by 15-year-old Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg. She organized—and has been continuing to organize—school strikes in front of the Swedish Parliament as a criticism of politicians’ behavior who continue to neglect climate and intergenerational safety issues due to emissions and climate change.

This inspired many other actions, extending to several other countries such as the Netherlands and Australia; with similar concerns, for politics has become a major contributor to the neglect of the threat of climate change and the perpetuation of addiction to fossil energy, including coal.
In Indonesia, the political year has become a fertile landscape for the growth of mineral and coal mining licences, as well as the perpetuation of nation’s dependence on this dirty energy source.

So far, there have been 9,710 mining business licences, with coal industry plotting 35% of the archipelago’s lands, not to mention oil and natural gas concessions. According to JATAM’s records, 44% of lands and waters in the Indonesian archipelago have been plotted by the aforementioned industries.

This damage, multiplied by electoral politics, now includes the expansion of demolitions for mining to coastal areas and small islands of Indonesia. Indonesia is the largest archipelagic country in the world consisting of 17,508 islands, with the fourth longest coastline worldwide, extending to 95,181 km. The Indonesian coastal region population reaches 161 million or 60% of the total 250 million. Furthermore, economic development centers are also developing in coastal regions. If the Indonesian Government is truly committed to preventing and overcoming climate change effects, the rescue of small islands from mineral and coal mining must be hastened.

According to JATAM’s database, 55 small islands have been occupied by mining. Gee Island and Pakal Island have now become monuments of destruction by mining. Several other small islands, like Romang Island in Southwest Maluku, are also under threat. Previously, JATAM and its regional network were struggling to expel mining in Bangka Island, North Sulawesi.

Small Islands of Indonesia, The Land of Mines

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