On the path to resilience: Indonesia harnesses its laws to promote disaster risk reduction

Published: 30 March 2016 22:18 CET

By Lucia Cipullo

Situated within the Pacific ‘ring of fire’, Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago and constantly at risk of disaster.  Dealing with the threat and impacts of disasters, both natural and man-made, has become a way of life for many Indonesians.  Just this month, over 100 hotspots have been identified and an emergency response had already been declared in Riau, an area greatly affected by forest fires. 

It is widely acknowledged that Indonesia has one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks for disaster management and response in the world.  In recent years, however, there has been a shift in focus at the national, regional and global levels, and an increasing emphasis placed on disaster risk reduction (DRR).  The significance of this shift has been underscored with the adoption of global frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for DRR, which highlights the role that law and regulation have to play in reducing disaster risks.

National disaster management authorities in Indonesia are currently preparing to implement the Sendai Framework and, as such, the timing was right to gather key stakeholders together to discuss how well Indonesia has addressed DRR in its existing legal framework, how this has been implemented, and where there is opportunity for further improvement.

On 29 February 2016, a consultation workshop was convened by Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), to share the findings of a research report prepared by IFRC, which contains an analysis of the laws and regulations for DRR in Indonesia, utilizing the ‘Checklist on Law and DRR’.  The Checklist is a tool developed by IFRC and UNDP, which contains 10 succinct questions to help national authorities, law-makers, parliamentarians and DRR practitioners to assess how well their legal frameworks address DRR – including land use planning and building codes, to climate change and community engagement. 

Over 50 participants attended the event, including from government, civil society, local and international humanitarian and development communities, and the private sector.  This workshop and research forms part of a broader disaster law roadmap being formulated in Indonesia, and it is anticipated that this will feed into a review of the national disaster management law in 2017. 

It was clear from the discussions that Indonesia already has a plethora of laws and regulations in place that address elements of DRR, but the question remained as to the effective implementation of these instruments.  What came out of the discussions was not necessarily a need to develop more laws, but to ensure that there is better implementation and dissemination of what already exists, and, more importantly, stronger coordination between sectors to ensure a thorough, effective and cohesive approach to DRR in Indonesia. 

“Indonesia has done a great deal in disaster management and DRR legislation, and it is important to recognize this”, explained the Head of the IFRC delegation in Jakarta, Mr. Giorgio Ferrario, “but the challenges that face Indonesia are so big, we cannot sleep on our successes”. 

Linking this work back to Indonesia’ new commitments vis à vis the Sendai Framework, Mr. Ferrario went on to explain that “we must move away from DRR as a sector, project or programme - it must become a mind-set, an integrated approach. The commitments of Sendai must become a reality in order to save more lives”.

Indonesia continues to take strides to ensure that all elements of disaster risk management are addressed, including DRR, from the national down to the community level.  Much progress has been made, but many steps still need to be taken.  PMI and IFRC will continue to work with and support national authorities on their path towards safety and resilience to disasters.

*A report from the workshop will soon be available on the IFRC website. The full research report on ‘strengthening law and disaster risk reduction in Indonesia’ will be finalized later in 2016.