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UNODC anti-corruption talk series reaches a wider audience

Jogjakarta (Indonesia), 26 April 2011
- On 31 March, the Anti-Corruption Research Centre of the Gadjah Mada Universities in Jogjakarta hosted UNODC anti-corruption talk series. UNODC decided to hold its talk series in Jogjakarta to reinforce its commitment to bring the fight against corruption, especially corruption in the forestry sector, beyond the capital city.

The talk series was opened by Mr. Hasrul Halili, Head of the Anti-Corruption and Justice Division of the Anti-Corruption Research Centre. Addressing the participants he said that: "The energy to eradicate corruption must continue to exist because the issue of corruption is always present. Anticipation is key so that the problems of corruption in forestry sector can be minimized."

The first presentation was delivered by Mr. Totok Dwi Diantoro, Head of the Anti-Corruption and Natural Resources Division of the Anti-Corruption Research Centre. Mr. Diantoro spoke on the need to combat illegal logging and explained that "the level of corruption in the forestry sector is still high and even though the number may seem to be declining, this is most likely caused by a reduced amount of forest reserves."

Mr. Diantoro went on to explain that forests in Indonesia continued to disappear at a deforestation rate of 1.2 million hectares per year. He said that from an economic perspective illegal logging had cost Indonesia between 23 to 25 billion Rupiah per year and went on to highlight some of the key ecological consequence of this crime. Mentioning the 336 floods in 136 districts and 26 provinces, 111 landslides in 48 districts and 13 provinces and 78 droughts in 36 districts and 19 provinces he concluded that "despite these numbers government ministers do not want to admit that these disasters are the result of illegal logging."

Delivering the second presentation, Mr. Danang Widyoko, Coordinator of Indonesia Corruption Watch said that incongruent data on deforestation is a political battle between the Ministry of Forestry and local governments. No final data has been published by the Government to date. Thus, there is a lack of complete or credible data which would underpin the dimension of illegal logging in the country.

He explained that: "Indonesia's natural resource wealth is extraordinary. However, regions rich in natural resources are in actual fact experiencing poverty and high levels of corruption. Soaring timber prices have increased the incentives for unsustainable timber supply and lead to deforestation that occurs because of the demand for very large quantities of timber. This somehow resulted in economic growth that is financed from the destruction of the forest."

Agreeing with Danang Widyoko, was Mr. Agus Affianto, a lecturer at Gadjah Mada University and Executive Director of Indonesian Forestry and Governance Institute. He said that "the Ministry of Forestry has never provided the forest spatial data and critical land data. This is because in many areas in Indonesia, the forest boundary has not been settled. Also, the boundary issues between local governments and communities have yet to be agreed."

The discussion concluded with a lively question and answer session involving over 100 representatives from various universities in Jogjakarta, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups.