Understanding of land and natural resource management conflicts, their context and appropriate methodologies of conflict management is a primary concern of CRU as the basis for knowledge on mediation in Indonesia. Therefore, CRU conducts research and documents the mediation processes of the conflict cases it handled and initiates research on land and natural resource conflicts and their resolution efforts in the Indonesian context.
Research and documentation of the mediation process is conducted to explore the wisdom and learning from mediation experiences, conducted by both by CRU and its partners. Research and documentation processes are conducted straightforwardly to capture the principles and the dinamics of mediation practice in the Indonesian context.
In addition to enriching the understanding of land and natural resource conflicts, CRU collaborates with several partners to conduct research on various issues of land and natural resource conflicts in Indonesia. The results of the research will be a source of learning and insight to encourage the actionable and sustainable resolution of land and natural resource conflicts.
Some research initiatives that have been done so far are:
1. The Cost of Conflict in the Palm Oil sector in Indonesia.
The findings of Daemeter’s research for the Conflict Resolution Unit (CRU) showed that conflict is very detrimental to palm oil companies. “The accumulation of costs due to social conflict is significant but neglected, but has the potential to hinder the productivity of the company and can harm communities and local governments.” The purpose of this study was to analyze the costs incurred due to social conflicts in the palm oil sector.
This research showed that tangible losses directly suffered by palm oil businesses as a result of social conflicts could reach 2,500,000 US dollars. The largest cost losses were due to the loss of plantation operating income and the working time of the employees ehich had to allocated to addressing the conflict. There were also findings showing that “intangible” cost losses could amount to US$ 9,000,000 in indirect losses due to the risk of recurring conflict or worsening of the conflict, losses due to deteriorating business reputation and the risk of violence against property and people.
Some of the general conclusions of this research on conflict in the palm oil sector are that the depletion of resources (land and livelihoods) is the main cause of conflict; conflicts tend not to start with violence; conflicts often recur; and conflicts tend to occur in the production phase.
Some of the important recommendations of this study are among others; palm oil companies need to improve conflict-related managerial policies and procedures; the need for more research on the causes, progression, and implications of conflict; and the need to develop better conflict prevention, handling and resolution practices than is currently common.
In addition to the study on the costs of conflict from the company’s perspective, CRU also initiated a study on the burden to be borne by communities that are facing conflict. One of the consequences of the many cases of land and natural resource conflicts is the cost of conflict that must be borne by each party, including by the communities. The study tried to measure the costs and losses due to land and natural resource conflicts that are borne by community households. This study is a case study conducted in the Village of Bungku, Jambi; Muara Tae, East Kalimantan and the Trimulya village, West Kalimantan. The study found that the companies’ presence resulted in a shift in people’s consumption pattern in the researcharea. Previously, people freely gathered various natural resources necessary for their lives from the surrounding nature, however, since the presence of the companies, community members had to rely entirely on the market system to meet their livelihood needs.
On average, as much as 36.79% of the value of the commodity consumption of respondents today, could be obtained freely in the past. Furthermore, each household must bear the average conflict cost of Rp. 41,754,672.00 per year. This study found that the impact of the conflict was more felt by families who owned oil palm plantations and/or participated in plasma-core schemes as compared to those who did not have oil palm plantations and/or participated in plasma-core schemes. Families owning oil palm plantations and/or participated in plasma-core schemes experienced a greater rate of decrease in consumption amounting to 37.35% and bore a total conflict cost of Rp. 51,617,040.00.
2. Land and natural wealth management conflicts
The visible land and natural resource conflicts in Indonesia are actually only the tip of the iceberg of a number of problems and other factors that are not visible as they are below the surface. One of the factors is the high dynamics of policy changes that continue to occur amid the demands of economic growth.
In addition, the high level of land demand for various interests, including the expansion of large-scale land-based industries such as oil palm plantations, industrial plantation forests (HTI) to support the paper industry, and mining, is not in balance with the legal certainty of spatial policy, even though spatial policies are intended to maintain the balance between economic interests and environmental sustainability.
This case study on spatial planning, land certainty and land claims conflicts on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan reveals empirical evidence of potential conflicts that arise when the spatial planning processes are incomplete and inaccurate. Those deficiencies are creating gaps that are perceived as opportunity to be utilized by some parties as “justifications” for their actions. It is why it is important to include spatial analysis in the reading of land-based conflict cases to be able to gain an adequate comprehension of the case thoroughly and design a thorough case resolution process.
Mediation processes not only reduce disputes and generate agreements, but also have the potential to transform the relationships of the parties into mutually beneficial interactions. But to achieve that a mediator or a team of mediators must double as facilitators, advisors and capacity development workers to assist the conflicting parties. These are the findings of the study on “Best Practices of Mediation of Natural Resource Conflicts in Indonesia and Other Countries”. This research is a manifestation of Conflict Resolution Unit (CRU) commitment in its efforts to support the best practices in conflict mediation related to natural resources and land in Indonesia. Moreover, those findings state that the multiple roles of mediators provide more space to understand the parties and recognize their respective interests so as to be able to formulate recommendations that can help them to resolve their problems.
One of the case studies was the journey of the people of the Banten Karang kasepuhan in their effort to legalize wewengkon land as part of customary land. In this case, participatory mapping conducted with the community of the Kasepuhan of Banten Kidul became one of the important stages in the conflict resolution process. It did not only generate maps, but the participatory mapping process also allowed members of the kasepuhan to think about the sustainability of their region. Using a comparative analysis approach, this study studied the process of conflict resolution, including recognizing important parts of each conflict resolution process.
3. Development of Methodologies in Handling of Land and Natural Resource Conflict.
The piling up of unresolved agrarian conflict cases implies the question of the effectiveness of the conflict resolution approach used. How are conflict resolution approaches implemented in helping conflicting parties reach a peace agreement between them, and even moving the parties towards long-term cooperation? The Conflict Resolution Unit (CRU) in collaboration with the Forest and Climate Change Program (FORCLIME) of GIZ, initiated a documentation and learning project on the mediation of multi-party conflicts as an effort to contribute to the knowledge on how to manage and resolve agrarian conflicts in Indonesia. This documentation tries to record learnings from the mediation experience and at the same time make critical analysis of the experience of the mediator team involved that was supported both by CRU and FORCLIME.