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Jan 26, 2022

Indonesia’s Radical Vision to End Plastic Pollution

Building a powerful coalition helped Indonesia reduce marine plastic waste leakage.

Climate Change

Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues in the world, particularly in nations with inefficient or insufficient waste management systems. This problem is especially prevalent in Indonesia, the country with the second longest coastline in the world. Plastic waste is piling up at unsustainable levels; each year 4.8 million tons of waste are mismanaged by being 1) openly burned; 2) dumped on land and in unmanaged official landfills; or 3) leaked into waterways and the ocean (620,000 tons of plastic waste). Left unchecked, plastic waste could increase to 780,000 tons per year by 2025.  

In addition, because of the lengthy coastline, marine plastic pollution threatens the 3.7 million Indonesians who depend on the fishing industry for their livelihood and is a major concern for the tourism industry, which employs 13 million Indonesians. 

The Government of Indonesia set a bold goal of reducing marine plastic debris up to 70% by 2025. Additionally, Indonesia plans to have near zero plastic pollution by 2024. 

NPAP Indonesia: The multi-stakeholder collaboration needed to meet this goal.

In March 2019, Minister Luhut B. Pandjaitan, Indonesia's Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment, joined forces with the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) to launch the Indonesia National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP), the first national partnership of GPAP. To aid in these changes, an official NPAP Secretariat was established; and, through the work of the NPAP, a strategic roadmap called the NPAP Action Plan was created to outline concrete steps forward. 

The Indonesia Multi-stakeholder Action Plan compares two outcomes: 'business as usual' versus a Systemic Change Scenario that radically transforms plastic pollution and waste management in Indonesia. In order to reach these targets by 2025, the GPAP and Indonesia proposed a System Change Scenario that are comprised of 5 key interventions.

To demonstrate to the world that overcoming plastic pollution is a real possibility, the NPAP and Secretariat were tasked with curating conversations within communities, generating new insights for action roadmaps, and catalysing strategic financing. However, the NPAP Secretariat faced resourcing challenges, such as limited staffing, coordination, and capabilities, which put the overarching goal at risk. Delivery Associates (DA) worked closely with the NPAP Secretariat to overcome these challenges and stay on track. DA helped to implement the following strategies:  

  1. Build a Coalition: An initial challenge was uniting a team of volunteer members with competing interest—public sectors, international institutions/organisations, informal waste sectors, civil society, academia, and private sector—and coordinating communications with relevant ministries, such as the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime and Internal Affairs (CMMIA) and Ministry of Education, Research and Technology (MoERT). DA worked closely with the Secretariat to build a coalition between the stakeholders and these Ministries through facilitated conversations and careful planning.
  2. Focus on Priorities: DA worked with the Secretariat to create effective internal routines, a focused list of priorities, and a project management system in order to make the most of people’s skill sets and time. In addition, DA shared results and early wins to show progress, build momentum, and drive accountability. 
  3. Demonstrate Progress: DA coordinated regular check-ins with high-level stakeholders, which garnered momentum, maintained alignment, and cultivated ownership through an explicit list of next steps. To further incentivize the group, a monthly newsletter was provided by the NPAP Secretariat with regular, action-oriented updates for more alignment and visibility within the group.
  4. Identify Key Stakeholders: With the good reputation that NPAP Indonesia gained, more organisations were keen to join as members. This in turn required more engagements from the Secretariat. DA supported the Secretariat in a stakeholder mapping exercise to engage strategically and effectively with members in order to leverage the impacts of various members’ initiatives in plastic waste reduction.
  5. Resource Appropriately: Finally, there was an internal need to organize the team structure to accurately assign resources across NPAP strategies for 2022 and beyond. NPAP Indonesia looked ahead to strengthen key strategic aspects of its Action Plan. DA supported this by careful strategy profiling and re-prioritisation exercise so that the Secretariat was able to assign the right tasks to the right team members.

And the results are significant.  

By laying the right foundations through structure, routines, and ownership, the NPAP Secretariat was able to deliver results at considerable speed. According to GPAP Impact Report 2021, there were 116 organisations that has joined NPAP, in which 42% of the members are women. The members convened five task forces, launched four roadmaps, and unlocked numerous potential opportunities to reduce marine plastic waste. GPAP has also reported that $184.2 million of funding has been committed by GPAP members to plastics solution in Indonesia so far.

The NPAP members also helped achieve a national movement to increase the stakeholders’ awareness; improve waste management across land, coastal, and marine areas; unlock funding opportunities between financing institutions, innovators, and other government initiatives; and invest in research and development.

In addition, for the past two years, NPAP Indonesia has successfully delivered its mandate to "convene and curate conversation, generating new insights and action roadmaps". The NPAP Secretariat will continue to "catalyse action to scale solutions" by strengthening the partnership between members in the upcoming years. 

The collective effort made by Indonesia, including the national efforts across ministries, the different commitments of industries and civil society, and the multi-stakeholder collaborative actions, contributed to a 15.3% decrease of marine plastic leakage in 2021 [1].

These achievements from the Indonesia NPAP are models of effective collaboration and commitment, as well as proven pathways to plastic reduction from demand-side interventions to waste management systems and beyond. Indonesia has shown how working together to share knowledge, solutions, and successes is integral in making progress to end plastic pollution, and to build a more sustainable future for future generations.

Explore the Global Plastic Action Partnership website to discover how they are progressing towards a world free of plastic waste and pollution. 

[1] Burhanuddin. Government Policies for Marine Plastic Pollution. As presented during ASEAN Regional Forum.

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