Thoughts from 8th The Common Boards Trustees of CIFOR-ICRAF Meeting Goa – India

Written by Yayuk Siswiyanti


Policy Making – a complex and messy processes

Scientist finds, for a term so commonly taken for granted, ‘policy’ is a remarkably slippery one. The policy is rather like an elephant: you know it when you see it, but you cannot easily define it. But if putting one’s finger on what constitutes policy is difficult, then assessing why particular policies take the shape they do – and working out what can be done to change them – is often an even more daunting challenge. Some have gone as far as to say that ‘the whole life of the policy is a chaos of purposes and accidents. It is not at all a matter of the rational implementation of so-called decisions through selected strategies.

Photo: Chandrashekar Biradar

The fact that environmental problems are typically complex, inherently unpredictable, and characterized by varying degrees of uncertainty; the fact that environmental problems operate across a range of scales, drawing in wide levels of interest; and because perceptions of both problems and solutions are value-laden and differ greatly among actors. We want to show the readers – how the Trustees of CIFOR-ICRAF are working to steer the operation of the organization. During the transition, there are building a new arrangement – a new managing the research governance.

In early December 2022, The Common Board of Trustees of CIFOR-ICRAF meeting in Goa India to discuss the governance of CIFOR-ICRAF, ensuring that CIFOR and ICRAF function to the highest standards to execute their mission. The board has a mandate to make policies for operating CIFOR-ICRAF. One member of the Board comes from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia represented by the Director General of the Agency for Standardization of Environment and Forestry Instruments, Ary Sudijanto. As we know in January 2019, CIFOR effectively merged with the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (known as World Agroforestry). They share a common Board and are actively working towards a single leadership team and unified policies, processes, and systems while maintaining their legal personalities. CIFOR-ICRAF operates under the authority of a legally constituted Board of Trustees, charged with overall responsibility for the work of the Center.

Ex-officio Trustee, Government of Indonesia Representative – frontline, number 2 from left. Photo: Elizabeth Kariuki

The Common Board of Trustees has been appointed and consists of members that have diverse skills in areas such as forestry and agroforestry science, natural resources management, audit, finance and risk management, and policy and governance. The Common Board of Trustees’ primary mandate is to provide governance oversight, ensuring that CIFOR and ICRAF function to the highest standards to execute their mission. To do this, the Common Board of Trustees has delegated the day-to-day management of the Centers to the Directors General, who is assisted by senior management teams.

Confirmed, the policy-making process is by no means the purely technical, rational activity that it is often held up to be. Policy-making is incremental, complex, and messy, a process of ‘disjointed incrementalism or muddling through’. It is iterative, and often based on experimentation, learning from mistakes, and taking corrective measures. Hence, there is no single optimal policy decision or outcome. There are always overlapping and competing agendas; there may not be complete agreement among stakeholders over what the really important policy problem is.


Bringing knowledge into Indonesian forest policy

Since 1993, Indonesia has been taking a role as the host country of the Center for International Forestry Research-CIFOR. The agreement between the Government of Indonesia and CIFOR was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and the Chairman of CIFOR’s Board of Trustees on 15 May 1993, which was later ratified in Presidential Decree Number 71 of 1993 concerning Ratification of Agreement Indonesia as CIFOR Headquarters.

Supplementary Agreement (SA) between the Government of Indonesia and CIFOR was signed by the Minister of Forestry and the Chairman of CIFOR’s BoT on 15 May 1993. Bilateral cooperation was marked by an MoU between the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and CIFOR: on 28 February 2019, the Research and Development and Innovation Agency (BLI), the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and CIFOR carried out a collaborative activity on “Scientific and Technical Cooperation”. Also in 2017, The Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the International Center for Research in Agroforestry-ICRAF signed a Memorandum to collaborate on Agroforestry.

Photo: Elizabeth Kariuki

Recently, the Government of Indonesia has a new policy paradigm. Indonesia has issued Omnibus Law Number 11 of 2020 concerning Job Creation,  followed by The Indonesian Government Decree Number 92 of 2020 concerning the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) and the Presidential Decree Number 78 of 2021 concerning the Agency for National Research and Innovation-BRIN. Further, the Regulation of the Minister of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia Number 15 of 2021 regarding the Organization and Work Procedure of the MoEF, has been issued. The new regulations imply the arrangement between the Government of Indonesia and CIFOR-ICRAF. The transition comes to transformation.

Photo: Yayuk Siswiyanti

Moreover, as we are aware, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is the Government body of Indonesia that carries out forest sustainably in Indonesia. The Ministry needs a lot of research results to decide on a policy that fits sustainable forest management in Indonesia, and engage policy more scientific-based in place. The developed knowledge also plays to strengthen Indonesian policy and actions.

Indonesia’s policy is now strengthening investment and business and is pledging to reach enhanced reduction emission targets through Forestry and Other Landuse Net Sink by 2030. In the years to follow the job creation aforementioned above, the Government of Indonesia would ensure environmental quality controlled while investment and business, including forestry, are accelerating. To address these risks, efforts to increase the capacity of Indonesia’s Institutions for forestry business risk management will contribute to Indonesia’s overall competitiveness by reducing uncertainties in the process, improving the management of the forestry risk, and making investments more sustainable, while facilitating investment processing. This would demonstrate to foreign and domestic investors that national forestry standards and systems are robust and reliable.

Photo: Chandrashekar Biradar

Furthermore, the government of Indonesia is now giving the pledge to enhance the NDC with an increased emission reduction target from 29% in First NDC and Updated NDC to 31.89% unconditionally and from 41% in the Updated NDC to 43.20% conditionally. At the mitigation platform on lands, Indonesia is rolling up Forestry and Other Land Use-FOLU Net Sink by 2030. We are now taking efforts to develop an incentive mechanism while the ENDC pledges are achieved.

The Government is further strengthening efforts in overcoming economic through low-carbon development. Facing resource efficiency and environmental friendly, the Government also takes a circular economy program that works on all using resources such as waste materials from forest industries for instance, logging, using natural materials that self-decomposed, etc.

Scientists and policymakers ‘mutually construct’ policy. These scientists contribute to the framing of policy issues by defining what evidence can be produced and its policy significance. And those working in policy also frame scientific inquiry by defining areas of relevance and pertinent areas for investigation – ie jointly negotiating what questions need to be answered and what knowledge can be provided to answer them. This is sometimes referred to as the co-production of science and policy.

Research is needed on sustainable forestry management; monitoring, reporting, and verification of reduction emission; forestry safeguards; forestry business risks management, climate resilience, low carbon, and circular economy.

As an intergovernmental body, CIFOR-ICRAF plays an important role to engage an international mindset, developing global knowledge streamlined, connecting people, and shifting the paradigm to tackling global environmental problems. The government of Indonesia expects the CIFOR-ICRAF could support the Indonesian forestry policy and also assist Indonesia’s efforts that contribute to improving the environmental quality and sustainable forestry,  both in Indonesia and globally actions.


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