JAKARTA: Indonesia is aiming to launch an international mangrove research center with the UAE at the 2023 UN climate summit in Dubai later this year, Jakarta’s envoy in Abu Dhabi said on Sunday.
The Mangrove Alliance for Climate was launched by the UAE and Indonesia at COP27, the 2022 UN climate summit in Egypt last November. The initiative seeks to promote nature-based solutions for issues related to climate change and was later joined by other countries, including Australia and India.
“Indonesia is very much in support of these types of initiatives. Firstly, because it can help reduce emissions and it’s easy for us to plant mangroves,” Indonesian Ambassador to UAE Husin Bagis told Arab News.
“Abu Dhabi has a huge interest in helping Indonesia in developing its mangrove ecosystem … The plan is to launch the mangrove research center at COP28.”
This year, the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28, will convene from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai.
Southeast Asia is home to the most extensive mangrove ecosystems, with Indonesia alone accounting for about a fifth of the global total. Mangroves provide various benefits in the face of climate change, including their ability to capture massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, which are then trapped and stored in their carbon-rich flooded soils for millennia.
According to a 2022 report by the Global Mangrove Alliance, however, rates of mangrove protection hover around 20 percent in the region and losses are more common due to rice and palm oil production.
During the first technical meeting of the Mangrove Alliance for Climate on Thursday in New York, Indonesia reaffirmed its support for the initiative and its aim to “promote mangrove as a nature-based solution to fight climate change.”
Nani Hendiarti, environmental and forestry management deputy at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, said during the meeting: “Indonesia is in full support of this MAC initiative and will collaborate with other global initiatives in managing mangrove ecosystems. This isn’t only beneficial ecologically, but also provides social and economic benefits for coastal communities.”
In a statement issued by the ministry, Hendiarti said that the planned international mangrove research center will be used for capacity-building, collaborative research on innovations surrounding mangrove and biotechnology, as well as conservation of mangrove biodiversity.
“This collaboration between Indonesia and UAE under MAC and the International Mangrove Research Center will be launched at COP28 in Dubai at the beginning of December. This is the right moment to show a real commitment to tackle climate change to the world,” Hendiarti said.
The Indonesia-UAE mangrove alliance is a “good idea” as long as it works on conserving existing mangrove forests and rehabilitating degraded mangrove forests, said Dr. Agus Sari, CEO of environmental advisory agency Landscape Indonesia and a former senior adviser to the UN Development Program.
“Indonesia needs to play this well as it hosts the largest area of mangroves worldwide,” Sari told Arab News. “As it has a dominant role, it needs to be able to capitalize on that position in the market.”