PRESS RELEASE – August 3, 2021
WALHI and Sunspirit for Justice and Peace
An amplified wave of protest against the development project that threatens the sustainability of the conservation, local economy, and people’s living space within Komodo National Park has finally been responded to by UNESCO. In the Extended 44th Session of the World Heritage Committee, held from July 16-31 in Fuzhou, China, UNESCO provided several recommendations regarding Komodo National Park to the Indonesian government.
There are a number of recommendations submitted by UNESCO to the Indonesian government in the Draft Decision number 44 COM 7B.93 which was adopted in the session. Two of them are, first, item number six which reads “Also urges the State Party to halt all tourism infrastructure projects in and around the property that have the potential to impact on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) until the revised EIA is submitted and reviewed by IUCN.” Second, item number seven which reads, “Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the impact of ongoing development on the OUV of the property and review its state of conservation.”
UNESCO’s calls to the Indonesian government is good news for Komodo National Park which in recent years has been constantly threatened by development models that impose adverse impacts on conservation, sustainable tourism economy and livelihoods for local residents. In the past two decades, mass tourism, komodo dragons and deer smuggling, coral reefs theft, have worsened the sustainability of the conservation and ecosystem in Komodo National Park. Instead of solving these existing problems, the government prioritizes investment that will potentially aggravate the situation.
Akbar Al Ayyubi, a member of Ata Modo Youth states, “[UNESCO’s calls] is a strong moral support for the safety and sustainability of conservation in Komodo National Park. With direct intervention from UNESCO, this is a good start to prevent any means to destroy the conservation area, especially Komodo dragons and Ata Modo community who have long dwelled in the area and conserved komodo dragons with their customary conservation culture.”
“The warning from UNESCO to the Indonesian government is like a vaccine in the midst of an investment virus that has recently destroyed conservation, local tourism and livelihoods of the people in the Komodo National Park.” Said Venan Haryanto, Researcher of Sunspirit for Justice and Peace Flores.
Since the change in the zoning system in 2021, the Indonesian government has opened the investment tap for private sectors to build exclusive resorts within the park area. So far, the Government has granted concession permits to three companies, they are PT Sagara Komodo Lestari on Rinca Island (22.1 hectares), PT Komodo Wildlife Ecotourism on Padar Island (274.13 hectares) and Komodo Island (151.94) and PT Synergindo Niagatama. on Tatawa Island (15.32 hectares). The government is also in the process of issuing permits for PT Flobamora, a state-owned company by East Nusa Tenggara Province.
“The development model that is being planned by the government in Komodo National Park is a natural commodification model which is dominated by big business by changing the existing zoning system. Businesses like this will continue to exploit and place local communities who have long lived and live side by side with the Komodo dragon, not as the main heirs.” said Nur Hidayati, Executive Director of WALH National.
In addition, as a part to push tourism investment in Labuan Bajo as one of the “10 new Balis”, the government has planned to build a number of tourism facilities that will impact the conservation. For instance, on Rinca Island, the government is constructing concrete roads as a facility for natural tourism. While on Padar Island, the government is also planning to build a premium class culinary and dock. This development model is very damaging to the local landscape as well as the image of nature tourism in Komodo National Park.
Meanwhile, as part of the government’s efforts to make Komodo Island an exclusive destination of tourist attraction with a ticket of 1000 USD, the government also has a plan to relocate Komodo people. This plan does not respect the existence of the people in Komodo Island as heirs of local customs and their role as the main agents of conservation and community-based tourism actors.
For those reasons above, in response to UNESCO’s recommendations to the government of Indonesia, we call on these key recommendations as follows:
- The government of Indonesia to follow all UNESCO recommendations related to ongoing development within Komodo National Park, specifically on Rinca Island, and together with the public and UNESCO to evaluate all tourism infrastructure development plans within the Komodo National Park area.
- The government of Indonesia to revoke all concession permits of private companies and halt all the process of issuing permits of companies. At the same time, the government should stop the entire process of changing zoning within the Komodo National Park area which is increasingly opening up business space for private companies.
- The Government of Indonesia to prioritize conservation programs for natural resources and ecosystems in Komodo National Park that are based on science and local communities.
- The government of Indonesia to respect and promote the involvement of the local community in the Komodo National Park area as conservation agents, community tourism actors as well as respecting the marine culture of the community which is in line with conservation principles.
- The government of Indonesia to not relocate local communities and their local business from Komodo island.
For more information contact:
Umbu Wulang Tanaamahu Paranggi (WALHI NTT)
Venan Haryanto (Sunspirit for Justice and Peace)