Anna Fish, Anwesha Chakraborty, Jessica Burrows and Philipp Horn (University of Sheffield)
The Global Land Forum 2018 opened on September 24 with a fantastic traditional performance from Indonesian musicians and dancers, to celebrate the chosen location of this year’s conference – Bandung. In 1955, Bandung hosted the first Africa-Asia Conference, leading to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement. Thus, the GLF 2018 proudly follows this historical legacy and discusses land rights and the surrounding issues, prioritising the interests of marginalised groups.
First to speak was Dewi Kartika, General Secretary for KPA and chairperson of the GLF National Organising Committee (NOC). Recognising the importance of the day as National Peasants’ Day, she listed 4 main objectives for the themes of the GLF:
- Effective action to tackle land grabbing
- To revisit agrarian reform debates
- Food sovereignty
- To work towards women’s rights to land
Kartika highlighted how we need to ‘strive for social justice in the case of rights to land’, as ‘little breakthrough’ had been achieved by the government for genuine agrarian reform (AR). Cooperation between civil society organisations, government and communities is crucial to achieve and consolidate real transformation, she noted.
Michael Taylor, Director of the International Land Coalition (ILC), recognised Indonesia as a global leader for AR and emphasized three key messages: firstly, the recognition and redistribution of 9 million hectares by 2019 as one of President Joko Widodo’s most ambitious targets. Secondly, land certification alone is not agrarian reform: genuine reform involves restructuring and redistributing land rights to those who have none. Thirdly, one of the ‘concrete steps’ government can take to achieve genuine AR is to pass the decree on agrarian reform, which would constitute a milestone after more than ten years of debate. Taylor also called for the decriminalization of land defenders as an important step of the agrarian reform.
Taylor concluded with his thanks and appreciation for the attendance of 550 delegates from 84 countries. A Bandung declaration with recommendations and ideas will be produced and handed over to the government. “Receive it as part of our cooperation”, Taylor finalised.
Muldoko, Head of Executive Office of the President, assures us that through the GLF the President will promise to show the world all the important breakthroughs that will help Indonesia bring equality in agrarian justice. He promised 3 key commitments; firstly, 7 million certificates in 2018 and an ambitious target of 9 million certificates in 2019 distributed across every land owned in Indonesia. By doing so, the government seeks to assure the rights of peasants, farmers and indigenous people by promoting just and equitable long-term development for Indonesia. Secondly, he calls for the establishment of more systematic strategies in order to monitor agrarian conflict in different areas. This includes deploying an expert team to mediate conflict resolution in different areas. Lastly, he commits to accelerate the implementation of agrarian reform and promote the use of forest lands for productive and sustainable use.
Following the speech given by Mr. Muldoko, representative peasants from 15 provinces in Indonesia presented the declaration of the Indonesian peasants, urging the government to immediately recognise and celebrate their struggle to acquire land rights and justice on National Peasants’ Day. Their proposal mainly urges the government: to establish an agrarian reform authority led by the President and involving the agrarian reform movement to ensure agrarian reform objectives; to review the laws surrounding land rights activism and the decriminalisation of activists fighting for land rights; and to acknowledge customary forests and protect indigenous people’s rights. Ending their speech with the slogan “Long Live Farmers!”, the representatives showed clear passion and enthusiasm to protect and defend the rights of the peasants, farmers and indigenous people.
Finally, the Opening Ceremony ended with a keynote speech by Darmin Nasution, the Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs, which highlighted the significance of the “Unity of all elements of the nation” in order to bring peace and justice. Three are the government’s pillars for the coming reforms: land, business opportunity and human resource capacity. New policies requiring thorough evaluation of palm oil plantations to guarantee peasants’ ownership of 20% of land managed by larger corporations, and long term economic growth with equality and justice were also emphasized as primary government’s commitments.