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Assessment of adaptation needs, policies and priorities: Cases from Indonesian islands

This scoping assessment presents an overview of the needs of small islands in Indonesia in adapting to the impacts of climate change and climate variability. The assessment was conducted in September to October 2011 with the assistance of local NGOs and peoples organizations in Indonesia.
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The coastline of South Lombok. Photo Credit: Albert Salamanca
The coastline of South Lombok. Photo Credit: Albert Salamanca


Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, with about 17,500 islands, the world’s longest coastline, and some of the world’s richest biodiversity (Jepson and Whittaker 2002). It is also the fourth most populated country in the world, with roughly 240 million people as of 2010.1

Indonesia is located in the world’s most geologically unstable region, the Pacific Ring of Fire, a cluster of fault lines and active volcanoes where earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions are common (recently, eruptions from Mounts Kelut and Merapi have been devastating). The archipelago also faces several climate-related hazards such as floods, droughts, storms, landslides and wildfires (Thomalla et al. 2009). These hazards have led to serious humanitarian emergencies. In short, Indonesia faces both geological and hydro-meteorological hazards. With about 40% of inhabitants at risk, Indonesia has been ranked 12th by the World Bank on a list of 35 countries with high mortality risk from multiple hazards.2

Climate change is expected to increase the risks for Indonesia, worsening recurring floods and droughts as well as forest fires, and severely affecting food production (see footnote 2).

Most of the national government’s actions on climate change to date have focused on mitigation, with a National Action Plan for Reducing GHGs published in 2011.3 Adaptation, meanwhile, has only recently gained priority. In mid-2012, the National Development Planning Agency (Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional, or BAPPENAS) and other government agencies began work on a strategy for mainstreaming adaptation into national development planning, with support from the Asian Development Bank and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency. Known as the Rencana Aksi Nasional Adaptasi Perubahan Iklim (RAN-API), the strategy builds on the experience of the implementation of the Rencana Aksi Nasional dalam menghadapi Perubahan Iklim (RAN-PI) or National Action Plan Addressing Climate Change. A draft of RAN-API is expected in 2013.

The goal of this scoping assessment is to determine the gaps and weaknesses of existing or planned adaptation measures and actions at both the local and national levels, so that proactive actions may be crafted to enhance them. A key policy focus is the implementation of RAN-PI since 2007. The immediate objective of this assessment is to contribute to the formulation of specific and reasonable planned adaptation activities for Indonesia, through which organizations and platforms such as SEI and AKP can contribute to their actualization and implementation. It is not the intention of these partners to pursue these “on their own”, but rather, to assist Indonesian partners to strengthen their adaptive capacity.

ThisweADAPT article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text.

Methods and Tools

This scoping assessment started from the premise that substantial action on climate has already been undertaken throughout Indonesia via the RAN-PI, involving the government, communities, civil society, and bilateral and multilateral agencies. Thus, the assessment focused specifically on adaptation, at two levels:

  1. A national-level assessment on the implementation of the adaptation agenda within RAN-PI, and
  2. Community-level experiences (or lack thereof) on actions to adapt to climate change.

The national-level assessment included a literature review, in-depth key informant interviews, and consultation meetings/roundtable discussions with key stakeholders. This scoping assessment looked at the operational challenges encountered in the implementation of the RAN-PI activities, and identified options to address these challenges.

At the local level, selected geographically marginal, economically peripheral and ecologically vulnerable provinces were identified for in-depth case studies to: 1) understand the implementation of RAN-PI at the provincial level, and 2) identify a priority course of action that ensures that the goals of RAN-PI are achieved and that the implementation is successful. The overarching goal is to determine the effectiveness of the implementation, as well as to assess how existing modalities are working and/or attuned to local needs and priorities, enhancing the adaptive capacities of communities. If knowledge and capacity gaps are identified, options to remedy them need to be explored. This, in turn, should lead to the identification of specific research priorities by the knowledge users


The implementation of the Indonesia National Action Plan Addressing Climate Change, or RAN-PI, is generally poor, especially at the lower administrative and community levels. For instance, in North Lombok, only three of 15 focus group participants at the kabupaten level knew about the document. Likewise, in Kupang at the provincial level focus group discussion, and in Soe at the kabupaten level, knowledge of RAN-PI was minimal.

The principal reason for poor implementation is the lack of a legal basis at the national level. Without this, it will continue to be difficult to take action at lower administrative levels. The legal basis (i.e. national law, ministerial decrees, governor’s or bupati’s regulation) is required as a justification for adopting the RAN–PI document at lower level Rencana Aksi Daerah (provincial or district level Action Plan), local, mid-term development planning (Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Menengah Daerah/RPJMD), and budget allocation.

At the national level, the issue of adaptation has already been integrated into disaster risk reduction. However, for implementation to occur, each agency must be given a clear mandate and responsibilities. This must be done with strong coordination and effective communication between departments; only through horizontal integration can a coherent strategy be passed to the regional level.

Finally, there is a disconnect between national policy and implementation at lower administrative levels; vertical integration is required


Salamanca, A., N. Dwisasanti, J. Rigg and S. Turner-Walker 2013. Assessment of adaptation needs, policies and priorities: cases from Indonesian islands. Adaptation Knowledge Platform, Partner Report Series No. 11. Stockholm Environment Institute, Bangkok.

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