WWF Indonesia is expressing regret at the decision of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF) to terminate their long-standing cooperation agreement but pledged to continue to work in the country under cooperation agreements with various other government agencies and partners.
“The WWF Indonesia foundation remains committed to supporting the priorities of the Government of Indonesia to achieve sustainable development. We continue to work in Indonesia under cooperation agreements with various government agencies, both national and local, and other partners,” said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, WWF Indonesia Chairman of Advisory Board and Spokesperson.
In a statement posted on WWF Indonesia’s website, Kuntoro said that the foundation deeply regretted the unilateral decision of the Ministry to terminate the cooperation agreement without giving the foundation an opportunity for direct communication and open consultation to reach a possible consensus as stipulated in the agreement.
In a decree issued on January 10, 2020, Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar, terminated the cooperation agreement more than two years before it was due to expire, accusing the environmental group of among others, having overstepped its mandate and of having unfairly criticized government efforts at conservation and mitigating the forest and ground fires that are now annual an occurrence in the country.
A senior official of the ministry has also accused WWF of failure to anticipate and mitigate fires a concession area for ecosystem restoration in Jambi that was under its responsibility.
Besides terminating the agreement that was signed in March 1998, the ministry also rescinded all its cooperation involving the foundation and all joint activities between the foundation and the central and local governments that fell “within the tasks, affairs and authorities” of the MOEF.
“There was a violation of the substance of the cooperation agreement, including through a series of social media campaigns and the publication of reports that were not based on fact but the management of the WWF Indonesia Foundation,” one points of the decree said.
The ministry said the foundation had made “a unilateral” claim “at a very serious level” that was not in accordance to the facts on the field.
Kuntoro said that the foundation held the right to work in environmental protection and natural resources management and that to ensure that his could be fully delivered it had always prioritized a dialogue with the MOEF.
“However, this is also within our rights to consider other measures including legal action if appropriate,” he said. The foundation, however, respected the government decision and was working to accelerate the handover process of any affected conservation program.