Remarks by Ambassador Blake at TFCA Kalimantan Launch Event

I am delighted to be here today for this important event to mark further progress in the partnership between the U.S. and Indonesia to protect Indonesia’s forests.

I first want to thank the Minister of Forestry, Bapak Zulkifli Hasan, for hosting the event and joining us today.

I would also like to recognize the presence of partners from the following ministries and institutions and thank them for their support of our Tropical Forest Conservation Act work:

Ministry of Finance;

Coordinating Ministry of Economy;

Ministry of Foreign Affairs;


REDD+ Agency; and

Representatives from the four TFCA Kalimantan target districts:  Berau, Kutai Barat, Mahakam Ulu and Kapuas Hulu;

Finally, a warm welcome to the TFCA Kalimantan Oversight Committee Chairman, Bapak Bambang Supriyanto, the Oversight Committee Members and the TFCA Kalimantan Administrator, Yayasan Kehati, for their leadership in making this program launch possible.

The United States and Indonesia signed the TFCA Kalimantan debt-for-nature swap agreement in 2011 to reduce Indonesia’s debt payments to the U.S. Government by nearly $28.5 million.

In return, the Government of Indonesia committed these funds to support grants to local non-governmental organizations and universities to protect and sustainably conserve tropical forests in Kalimantan.

This agreement, in partnership with World Wide Fund for Nature-Indonesia and The Nature Conservancy is the second TFCA debt-for-nature swap in Indonesia.   The first was signed in 2009 to protect the tropical forests of Sumatra.

Indonesia is one of only five countries to have two TFCA agreements, which are among the largest debt-for-nature swaps ever signed by the U.S. Government.  This investment in Indonesia reflects our commitment to protect Indonesia’s unique tropical forest biodiversity and support Indonesia’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the clearing of tropical forests.

Today we are celebrating the signing of the inaugural TFCA Kalimantan grants to nine deserving Indonesian organizations.

TFCA Kalimantan is unique in that it focuses on the intersection between conservation, climate change, and sustainable livelihoods.

Just one week ago the world celebrated Earth Day, but our responsibility to protect the environment that sustains life on this planet does not begin and end on that one day.

We are all threatened by the impacts of climate change, none more so than the poorest and most vulnerable among us.

On March 31, 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fifth Assessment Report on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

In Indonesia, analysts forecast:

  • rainfall shortages and rising temperatures approaching critical levels during the rice planting season, resulting in significant negative impacts on farmers and the urban poor;
  • large projected declines in fisheries catch potential that could have broad ramifications for coastal livelihoods and food security across the country; and
  • drought-associated fires that will increase the vulnerability of agriculture, forestry and human settlements, particularly in peat land areas.

All of these impacts are expected to reduce Indonesia’s GDP by 2.2 percent annually by the end of the century.  The “business as usual” scenario is no longer an option, and we must each do our part to achieve a more sustainable future.

Indonesia pledged to reduce greenhouse gas by 26 percent from business-as-usual levels, or by 41 percent with international support, by 2020.

President Obama made a similar commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Under President Obama’s leadership, the U.S. has made more progress in recent years than any country in reducing our carbon footprint.

  • We have doubled wind and solar electricity generation; adopted the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in U.S. history; advanced environmental standards to expedite the transition to cleaner and more efficient fuels in power plants; and increased the energy efficiency of our homes, industries, and businesses.

These actions are already producing results, but the impacts of climate change do not stop at our borders and we know we must do more, including working closely with key partners like Indonesia.

Our TFCA projects are one part of a $500 million investment the U.S. is making to partner with Indonesia to combat climate change in Indonesia.  The  Department of State, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the Department of Treasury and other U.S. agencies are playing important roles.

Let me conclude by congratulating the nine grantees on their work.  All of you are trailblazers in developing locally designed and implemented projects that integrate conservation and efforts to combat climate change.

Thank you and I look forward for continuing our important work together.