By Zamzami Arlinus

Green Radio hosted a mission and vision debate for 2018-2023 Riau gubernatorial candidates. Three spokespeople were present, including two from the leading candidate pair. Candidates' visions for environmental protection were a key topic of discussion.

The 2018–2023 Riau gubernatorial candidate mission and vision debate, held at Green Radio Pekanbaru on 4 June 2018, presented many interesting facts. Three spokespeople were present, including two from the leading candidate pair. The speaker for candidate pair Syamsuar and Edy Nasution was not present.

While speaking on their vision, mission and priority programs related to the environment, the three speakers specifically addressed peatland fires. This is an exciting development, especially since peatland issues were not mentioned in candidates’ election registration documentation. Candidates’ failure to mention peatlands in their visions and missions was a key finding of a recent study conducted by Pantau Gambut.

The host questioned candidates about the absence of peatland issues in their vision and mission statements. The spokesperson for Candidate Pair Number 2, Indra Mukhlis Adnan, who is also Chairman of the pairs’ Steering Committee, explained that peatland issues have been included in the sustainable development section of their vision and mission, although peat is not mentioned specifically. Chaidir, spokesperson for Candidate Pair Number 3, said that peatland issues have now been included in the environmental sustainability section of their vision and mission.

According to Masnur, spokesperson for Candidate Pair Number 4, peatland issues are also included in the sustainable economic development section of their vision and mission. Commenting beyond the scope of their official vision and mission statements, Candidate Pair Number 4’s spokesman also emphasized that they consider peatland fires to be a disaster suffered by everyone in Riau, including themselves.

The three leading candidate pairs agreed that peatlands must be protected and properly managed to preserve the welfare of local communities.

Pantau Gambut has analyzed the visions, missions, and priority programs of all candidate pairs running in seven priority provinces, including candidates in the Riau gubernatorial elections. These seven provinces are priority areas for peat restoration due to nearly annual forest fires. Analyzing documents on candidates’ visions, missions, and priority programs, Pantau Gambut found only two candidate pairs that mentioned peatland protection in their visions and missions.

To clarify candidates’ pledges and visions, Rakhmat Hidayat, head of WRI Indonesia in Riau, asked how success can be measured and seen publicly in the first 100 days in office, including how to measure the success of the national one-map policy, which aims to eliminate contradictions between official maps. Regional governments will play an important role in the implementation and synchronization of this policy.

Spokesperson Candidate Pair Number 2 Indra Muklis stated that candidate pair Lukman Edy and Hardianto will apply a moratorium on forestry and plantation permits in both peatland and mineral soil areas in Riau. According to him, this moratorium intends to resolve discrepancies between official peatland and mineral soil maps. It could be applied within three months or take up to one year from when the candidates take office, depending on how quickly problems in this sector can be solved.

Spokesperson Candidate Pair Number 3 Chaidir answered that candidate pair Firdaus and Rusli Efendi will assess the root of problems in the forestry and plantation sectors in Riau. His candidates will set up a land conflict complaint office, so that conflicts can be resolved within one year.

Spokesperson Candidate Pair Number 4 Masnur said that candidate pair Arsyadjuliandi Rachman and Suyatno don’t need to wait months, because as incumbents, they have already established a policy that will protect the forestry and plantation sectors. Nevertheless, he said there are obstacles to the implementation of several policies, especially the customary forest component of the social forestry policy scheme.

All candidates’ spokespeople claimed to agree on a one-map policy. They also supported Association of Indonesian Tourism Riau businessman Yuli Andriani’s proposal to encourage ecotourism. Ecotourism can serve as a viable alternative source of income if nature and the environment are well maintained.

Woro Supartinah, a representative from the non-governmental organization Jikalahari, claimed to be dissatisfied with the answers from the speakers, as nothing specific and measurable was outlined. He asserted that the answers were rhetorical, so that if elected, candidates’ pledges cannot be measured.

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