Researchers to support East Kalimantan’s low-carbon emission programme with impact evaluation

Quasi-experimental research seeks to help the East Kalimantan provincial government in implementing effective, efficient, and equitable policies
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Industrial plantation forest (HTI) locate in Sepaku area, North Panajam Paser Regency, East Kalimantan Province. Photo by Aris Sanjaya/CIFOR-ICRAF

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Nestled in the eastern part of Borneo island, East Kalimantan is one of the provinces in Indonesia that takes the green economy seriously. In 2011, the province introduced its green transformation commitment Kaltim Green” declaration. Since then East Kalimantan has launched numerous initiatives to support the ‘green’ economic reform strategy to achieve various goals to limit coal production and increase agricultural productivity, specifically in the oil palm sector.

In October 2014, the province ramped up its efforts to reduce carbon emissions after being appointed the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund REDD+ pilot (reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation) by the Environment and Forestry Ministry (MoEF). This is a provincial-level results-based payment programme, in which the World Bank pays USD 5 for every agreed tonne of verified CO2 emission reduction (ER). The goal is to reduce 22 million tons of carbon emissions in the province between June 2019 and 2024. The programme is a product of long-term collaboration among East Kalimantan stakeholders including government institutions (from MoEF and local government), non-governmental partners and the private sector.

However, as a results-based programme, how can policymakers and practitioners determine if the efforts and regulations are effective, efficient and equitable?

Answering this question requires some level of capacity in implementing monitoring and evaluation methods at the provincial level. The Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) and Mulawarman University’s Faculty of Forestry have announced a collaboration to conduct an impact evaluation based on quasi-experimental approaches that seeks to evaluate the cause and effect relationship between a policy or intervention with its outcomes.

Stibniati Atmadja, a CIFOR-ICRAF scientist, long-time REDD+ researcher and collaborator in this research, believes the strength of this collaboration lies in its multidisciplinarity and focus on co-development. “Everyone learns from each other and is equally respected for his or her expertise. We design and implement the research together.” The research team involves experts in environmental economics, earth observation, statistics, data management, and forest policy. The research objective of this collaboration is to understand if, and under which conditions, policies aimed at improving forested landscape management in East Kalimantan are effective in achieving sustainability. Since 2009,  CIFOR-ICRAF and partners have been implementing a Global Comparative Study on REDD+ (GCS REDD+), honing the organization’s technical expertise in conducting quasi-experimental evaluations on REDD+ implementation. Meanwhile, the University of Mulawarman has deep knowledge of land-use policies and forestry dynamics in East Kalimantan. The two organizations believe that combining their strengths will benefit the province’s long-term green economy vision by supporting the government in making effective, efficient and equitable policies.

   Landscape view Samarinda city, East Kalimantan province. Photo by Aris Sanjaya/CIFOR-ICRAF

As part of the collaboration, CIFOR-ICRAF and University Mulawarman hosted a hybrid workshop on impact evaluation on 10 October 2022, followed by a kick-off event on 12 October 12.

During the hybrid workshop, which was attended by 50 participants, Colas Chervier, a CIFOR-ICRAF seconded scientist and research collaborator, presented a particular type of  impact evaluation method that “allows having a quantitative assessment of the extent to which an intervention affects outcomes, such as deforestation, land-use or changes in the community”.

“Quasi-experimental methods aim to identify a robust control group that represents what would have happened to the group receiving the policy if it had not received it, allowing us to have a precise quantified measure free from bias,” he said. Chervier added that these methods are deemed effective to answer a wide range of questions related to the effectiveness of policies with a view to their improvement or replication. “However, they require specific data needs, especially pre-intervention data and data in areas that did not receive the policy,” he concluded.

During the kick-off event, Bimo Dwi Satrio, a senior research officer with CIFOR-ICRAF, explained that this collaboration is part of the larger GCS REDD+ research project. “We are aiming to understand the cause of deforestation and forest degradation in tropical countries and what can be done to reverse those trends. GCS REDD+ is currently in its fourth phase and is being conducted in four countries: Peru, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Indonesia,” he said.

Ali Suhardiman, lecturer and a collaborator at Mulawarman University, added: “this collaborative research will run until mid-2023. This is an interesting topic because we can evaluate the impact of policies and regulations.”

Rochadi Kristiningrum from University Mulawarman’s Faculty of Forestry and a collaborator added that, generally, the main objective of this collaboration was to discover, develop and implement evaluation methods that aimed to understand in what kind of conditions a policy can be considered effective to improve East Kalimantan’s forest management and sustainability.

Other members of the collaboration include Mella Komalasari from CIFOR-ICRAF and Choiriatun Nur Annisa from UnMul, who said that the impact evaluation method is very relevant for application in East Kalimantan to see the impact of existing policies that have implications for emission reductions and/or increasing forest cover. Some factors, such as political sensitivity and having an established network with stakeholders, are important to support the implementation of the method. The established relationship between stakeholders in East Kalimantan is a good modality for the team to access the data needed in the impact evaluation study.

In addition to diving into the collaboration and the quasi-experimental research, the kick-off event also highlighted some lessons learned from the current evaluation approaches conducted by the non-government organization Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (formerly The Nature Conservancy in Indonesia).

Dina Riska, a specialist with the Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara’s Green Growth Compact (GGC), briefly shared the idea behind GGC, which was established in 2016. As a voluntary, multistakeholder initiative with a sustainability goal, the programme involved more participants compared to the Kaltim Green programme. She explained that they have regularly conducted impact assessment and monitoring and evaluation programmes to evaluate the effectiveness of GGC.

GGC is an impromptu evaluation approach, held when there is an intervention in a policy to evaluate progress. As for monitoring and evaluation, the evaluation approach is to evaluate a specific activity, discovering the relevance between programmes and goals. Learning from experience, Dina suggested involving all the participants in the interview and data collection process to get adequate and reliable data.

   Kick-off Meeting - Impact Evaluation of Forest Policies: A Research Collaboration, Samarinda, East Kalimantan. Photo by Aris Sanjaya/CIFOR-ICRAF
   Workshop on Impact Evaluation Methods, Samarinda, East Kalimantan. Photo by Aris Sanjaya/CIFOR-ICRAF

Before ending the session, some participants also shared their concerns about the varied situations in each district, noting that the researchers need to understand the local contexts. Dwi Satrio assured the group that the GCS REDD+ team would consider these concerns and provide local context on the quasi-experimental research.

“Hopefully, this collaboration can give a positive input to the policy-making process in East Kalimantan,” he said as he closed the session.


This work was carried out as part of the Center for International Forestry Research’s Global Comparative Study on REDD+ (www.cifor.org/gcs). The funding partners that have supported this research include the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad, Grant No. QZA-21/0124), International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU, Grant No. 20_III_108), and CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (CRP-FTA) with financial support from CGIAR Fund Donors.

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For more information on this topic, please contact Bimo Dwi Satrio at b.dwisatrio@cifor-icraf.org.
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