Indonesia has long been an important and reliable bilateral partner of German development cooperation. Over the past decades, Indonesia and Germany have achieved a lot by working closely together: the living conditions of many people have improved, based on projects supported by the German government.

Today, Indonesia is one of only six so-called “Global Development Partners” to which Germany assigns a central role in resolving global challenges. The aim of development cooperation with those countries is to shape global development through joint action. One of those joint actions is cooperating in key areas such as Energy and Climate Change, with achieving sustainable climate protection being cited as one of the main goals. Both the German development bank KfW and GIZ, Germany’s leading provider of international cooperation service are actively working in this field on behalf of the German Government.

While they support many different projects, their approach remains similar: working together with the Indonesian counterparts is crucial, be it on government level, province level, cities and district level, or cooperating with civil society and local communities. Primary targets in their work are to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and support Indonesia´s efforts in tackling this challenge as one of the world’s largest CO2 emitters. “Our planet is a fragile place. Climate change is a worldwide problem that affects us all,” says Jochen Saleth, director of KfW in Indonesia. “So it is important that we work together to mitigate climate change and to develop an economic growth path which enable future generations to live a good life, too.”

In the area of renewable energy sources, for instance, KfW supports the national power utility PT.PLN with the development of 100 “mini solar photovoltaic power plants” for people living on remote islands in the Eastern part of the country. “It is not only financial support KfW offers but also support with the implementation of this investment, so that it can be continued and scaled up by our partners later on,” Jochen Saleth explains. Complementary to that, community members are being trained by GIZ to operate and manage “mini grids” running on micro hydro power as well as solar photovoltaic power which generate, not only power, but new economic and social opportunities.

To date more than 400 “mini grids” have been installed bringing electricity to over 30,000 households, 1,600 rural businesses and 1,100 social institutions. Forests protection and biodiversity conservation also belong to the fields in which Germany supports Indonesia. At the moment, economic growth in Indonesia still heavily relies on land-based economic development such as palm oil plantations. The resulting deforestation leads to a long-term loss of forests and foliage across the country causing massive environmental and social impacts, and the lion´s share of Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions.

According to GIZ Country Director Peter Palesch, “Indonesia’s challenge is to achieve economic growth in a sustainable manner. Among other things, GIZ supports the Indonesian Ministry for Environment and Forestry in the areas of forest protection and sustainable forest management and provides training to institutions on forest resource management and protection of biodiversity.” Another important focus lies on urbanisation. According to KfW, in less than 10 years, 2 out of 3 Indonesians will live in cities. Today it is only 50 percent. This rapid development presents both opportunities and challenges. Cities are important centres of economy and innovation and become a magnet for people looking for a better life.

Meanwhile, the challenges in the big and ever-growing cities like Jakarta have become painfully obvious: the traffic has become a nightmare; there are piles of garbage all around the city and in canals, flooding happens regularly, and air pollution make it hard to take a deep breath at times. “Cities are generators and victims of climate change at the same time. We are ready to support Indonesian cities in their efforts to make them more liveable while protecting the climate,” Jochen Saleth says.

Looking into the future, Indonesia will no doubt remain an important partner for Germany, focusing on – in addition to renewable energy and energy efficiency– protection of natural resources and their sustainable use, safeguarding biodiversity, development of modern infrastructure, and promoting vocational training for creating employability for Indonesia´s young generation. “The basis for such a partnership is trust and understanding for various circumstances,” Jochen Saleth explains. “The institutions we are working with have different capacities which can be challenging at times. But as long as we all keep an eye on our mutual goals, we can jointly solve many problems and achieve outstanding solutions as a contribution to Indonesia´s sustainable development.”

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge is a previous editor of NOW! Jakarta. An experienced writer and avid bookworm.