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Policy-makers & the Heart of Borneo

Why should policymakers in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia invest in the Heart of Borneo?

HoB’s natural capital is instrumental in supporting the productivity of multiple economic sectors and social well being. It plays an essential role in ensuring food, water and energy for the security of millions of Borneo residents.

To fully realize the Vision outlined in the HoB Declaration (2007) and to make further progress in their transition to a green economy, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, with support from all stakeholders, will need to invest in the ecosystems and biodiversity of the HoB.

Deforestation and environmental degradation have multiple causes, but they share a common root cause: the fundamental disconnect between economy and nature. Few realize the impact of lost natural stocks and the reduced ecosystem services  in terms of lost revenue flows and additional costs imposed on society.

Declining ecosystem services, species loss, and deteriorating ecosystem health and resilience are increasing the vulnerability of people and local economies. As the Heart of Borneo’s ecosystem services are impaired, costs to businesses, governments, and individuals are increasing. Urgent action is needed to restore and sustain ecosystems which provide these services. 

What types of investments can be done by governments?

The governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia need to play a leading role in the transition to a green economy. The key enabler is the shift to an economic infrastructure where (fiscal) policies, subsidy allocation and legislation favour sustainable practices and reward good (local) governance, along with businesses that restore, sustain and enhance ecosystem services. 

Shifting towards an economic infrastructure that provides appropriate incentives and disincentives is crucial. Combining economic policy interventions  into a single policy package will enable a variety of economic instruments to mobilize fiscal and other transfers and (dis)incentives.

These economic instruments incentivize good performance by sub-national governments, private sector and communities based on economic, social and natural capital targets and indicators. These economic instruments will be less effective if implemented in isolation; a package ensures synergies and the sharing of both costs and benefits. 

Other steps to develop a suitable enabling environment to encourage a green economy to take root include:

  • instituting regulations to mandate the accounting of natural capital throughout all economic sectors 
  • ensuring land tenure and property rights are addressed 
  • devising transparent and accountable procedures to facilitate a green economy.

The value of this report 

Policy makers will only take action if they are convinced of the contribution of natural capital to the economy and society. This report helps to raise awareness of additional costs which have resulted from poor landscape management and rapid economic growth. In this type of economy, natural stocks and ecosystem services are not maintained, but rather are simply taken for granted.

Preliminary results in the Heart of Borneo: Investing in Nature for a Green Economy report reveal critical differences between the outcomes under a Business-as-Usual vs. a Green Economy scenario. In the long term, in environmental, social and economic terms, a green economy may have substantial advantages over the BAU scenario.

Working together towards a future that benefits all

Success will require coordination and facilitation from policy makers, along with genuine commitment and responsibility from businesses, business associations, households, consumers and other stakeholders. 

The report highlights critical next steps which can only be successful if HoB governments, business, civil society and media—with support from international development partners—join efforts to make the transition to a green economy a reality. The following actions are crucial to maintain momentum and ensure long-term commitment:

  • an active, government-led HoB Partnership Forum, with proactive involvement from other stakeholders;
  • creation of an HoB Centre of Excellence , which can provide input and support for analysis and generation of empirical evidence;
  • comprehensive, government-led, cross-sectoral Green Growth Assessment, which will form a strong basis for designing an integrated policy package;
  • an HoB Finance Facility that could combine financing from different sources and make it available for logistics, capacity building, data gathering, knowledge exchange, skill training, information transfer and conducting pilots.