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Natural Resources Management and Policies in Southeast Asia

Saturday 21 March 2015, 1400 – 1600, Auditorium 3

Jeff Burley
University of Oxford

Gamini Herath
Monash University Malaysia


Paper 1: Water resource management in Southeast Asia

Gamini Herath
Monash University Malaysia

Increase in agricultural production over the last few decades has led to substantial improvements in global food security through higher and stable food production. They have also contributed to economic growth in many countries. Water resources are critical for increased food production for an increasing population in the future. Population is expected to be around 9 billion by 2050. Irrigation uses 70% of water resources and this has led to excess use, too much ground water abstraction and waste of water resources. Land use and irrigation in agriculture has become a major contributor to water scarcity ans quality deterioration (Foley et al., 2005). Irrigation and agriculture have substantially modified the global hydrological cycle in terms of both quality and quantity of water. Irrigation accounts, by far, for the largest share of consumptive water use (Falkenmark and Lannerstad, 2005) altering changes to river flow patterns, downstream coastal ecosystems, wetlands and large rivers around the world. In Asia, there is massive increase in ground water exploitation and significant damage to underground aquifers. Agriculture has also led to large-scale deforestation leading to climate change and significant increase in nutrients causing widespread eutrophication (Diaz, 2001). Water resources have been affected through salinity and pollution. Water resources need to be managed sustainably. Governments policies such as free water and electricity in countries such as India led to over abstraction and serious damage to this important resource. A rethink of management policy and the pattern of water use is imperative to ensure that water resources are managed sustainably.


Paper 2: Regime Formation on Regional Haze Problems and Indonesia’s Crude Palm Oil Plantation: The Case Study of Riau Province

Steven Yohanes Polhaupesy
The Habibie Center

The land and forest fires in Indonesia created so-called trans-boundary haze pollutions, which has affected several countries in ASEAN, mostly Malaysia and Singapore. In this case, the land and forest fires mainly occurred in Riau Province where the land is cleared for palm oil plantation –Riau Province is the largest location for palm oil plantations accounting for 22% of land use in Indonesia and contributing to 31% of Indonesia’s total palm oil production. Based on this fact, ASEAN proposed to tackle such issues through the regional environmental regime formation as reflected in the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution (AATHP). This paper’s main argument is that the regional haze problems could not merely be resolved through the process of ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution (AATHP) alone. More critically, it is more effective to resolve the issue at the national level because the palm oil plantation contributes significantly to land clearing that caused haze pollution, particularly in Riau Province. Therefore, this paper will also encompass a comparative analysis between Indonesia and Malaysia –as the biggest and second biggest world palm oil producer –where I argue that each national level regulation affects the pattern of palm oil plantation. The aim of this paper is, (1) to provide analysis using regime theory as tools of explanation of AATHP to show that it is not adequate to resolve haze problem; (2) to identify lessons learned from comparative national level analysis that can contribute to strengthening regional environmental regime formation; and (3) to give policy recommendation either to Indonesia’s government and ASEAN to tackle the Haze Pollution problem.


Paper 3: The emerging role of indigenous civil society in natural resource management in Sarawak, Malaysia

Annina Aeberli
Bruno Manser Fund

The Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo is very rich in resources: It has large reserves of oil and gas, very biodiverse forests and an abundance of fast-flowing rivers that are proposed to be utilized for large hydropower projects. Until recently, indigenous civil society has played only a very marginal role in the management of this natural wealth. The speaker will argue that several developments indicate that indigenous peoples are now gaining ground in the management of natural resources in Sarawak. Successful blockades against plantations and dams by indigenous landowners as well as an increasing body of legal precedents in favour of indigenous communities’ rights to customary properties are forcing the government to recognize indigenous peopels as a force with which to be reckoned. For indigenous civil society groups to have a more meaningful role in Sarawak’s natural resource management and planning, however, several preconditions would first have to be met, including but not limited to: full transparency on the government’s resource policy, full recognition of indigenous rights especially to native customary rights to land as well as participatory land use planning. Recently appointed Chief Minister Adenan Satem has embarked on a new policy on tracking illegal logging. It remains to be seen whether this will open up space for indigenous peoples to participate in natural resource management.