R-Strategies for Marine Debris and Blue Finance in Indonesia

This paper examines the application of the blue economy through sustainable R-Strategies. The essence is related to the development of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) through the provision of blue finance, which is part of the application of the developing blue economy in Indonesia.

Implementing the blue economy is a new strategy for the government under the responsibility of Bappenas listed in the 2020-2024 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) strategy. This implementation was launched in 2012 when the context of sustainable development was first coined. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) states that there are at least five forms of implementation of blue economy policies ranging from quota-based measured fishing, expansion of marine conservation areas, development of marine, coastal, and freshwater aquaculture, marine waste management, and sustainable coastal and small islands. The policy can at least develop the three main pillars of implementing the blue economy, ranging from economic, ecological, and social. The implementation is projected to bring ocean investment returns up to USD 15.5 trillion (Bappenas, 2023).

One of the problems relates to the projection of marine debris. According to the National Coordination Team for Marine Debris Management (TKN PSL), the amount of plastic waste in Indonesia has decreased by 42.27% since 2018 (TKN PSL, 2023). However, in 2022,

309,625 tons remain a number that must be followed up. That is related to the impacts caused by marine debris. Some of them include water and soil pollution and a decrease in the quality of marine biota. Plastic waste that covers mangrove roots can cause death, waste becomes food for marine animals and causes death, and toxins from plastic particles will also kill animals (Arifin, 2017). While marine animals are food for humans, humans are exposed to plastic particles from their food sources. Based on this data, it can be concluded that marine debris entering the food chain can threaten the habitat of living things and human health.

The problem of marine debris can be addressed through R-Strategies in the application of the circular economy concept. R-Strategies consist of R0 Refuse, R1 Rethink, R2 Reduce, R3 Reuse, R4 Repair, R5 Refurbish, R6 Remanufacture, R7 Repurpose, R8 Recycle, and R9 Recover (Malooly & Daphne, 2023). Each strategy contributes to more beneficial sustainable consumption patterns. Communities and companies can initiate these strategies through specific programs or projects. The overall benefits of implementing R-strategies can contribute to blue finance.

Blue finance is part of the concept of sustainable ocean economy, including the blue economy solution that was first proposed in 2012 during the Rio+20 Conference. Blue finance is designed to support the financing of projects related to the transition to a blue economy and the sustainability of the marine environment. The financing is obtained through funding mechanisms that create sustainable economic growth by balancing the marine and fisheries sector’s economic, social, governance, and environmental aspects. Funding is secured through investments that support efforts such as ocean and coral reef restoration. Through R-Strategies, tackling the problem of marine debris can indirectly contribute to blue finance.

Blue finance instruments can be pursued through blue bonds, loans, equity, and grants. Such opportunities include the issuance of blue bonds. Indonesia issued the first blue bond in the Japanese market, totaling $150 million. In addition to receiving UNDP  appreciation, the issuance provided support for the implementation of Indonesia’s blue economy, which included coastal protection, sustainable fisheries management and aquaculture, marine biodiversity conservation, and mangrove cultivation (UNDP, 2023).

Another opportunity is to provide a blue loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to one of the recycling companies, PT ALBA Tridi Plastics Recycling Indonesia. The loan funded $44.2 million to build a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling facility in Central Java. The plant recycles PET beverage bottles into high-quality, food-grade PET (rPET). It is expected to recycle up to 48,000 tons of PET bottles per year, thereby reducing the accumulation of bottle waste in landfills, incineration, and disposal at sea. The plant will produce 36,000 tons of rPET, reducing the 30,500 tons of CO2 that would have been generated by using new PET (ADB, 2023).

Blue finance can be provided in sectors ranging from the public sector to the private sector and society. The public sector can contribute through the government and financial institutions; in this case, the Indonesian government has included the development of a blue economy as a strategic plan by involving the Financial Services Authority (OJK), World Bank, and ADB. The private sector also contains non-government financial institution providers, companies, and investors, in this case, private banks such as Bank Central Asia (BCA) and other banks, businesses in the form of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to large companies. While the community refers to the general public in specific areas such as coastal communities, communities in the form of communities play a role in the realm of education, advocacy, and raising public awareness.

All three sectors can pursue the implementation of R-Strategies. The government, the private sector, and the community can contribute to implementing R-Strategies to address the problem of marine debris while supporting the implementation of the blue economy. The sustainability of implementing R-Strategies can be the initial capital between sectors to contribute to the provision of blue finance, thus forming a sustainable product circular process.

The functions of each sector support the use of R-Strategies through marine debris processing to support the implementation of the blue economy. Through the public sector, the processing can create jobs involving the private sector, develop the tourism sector, and preserve a healthy marine ecosystem. Through the private sector, new jobs are realized through the marine waste recycling industry, the tourism sector supports mariculture, increases the production of healthy fish and marine biota, and adds to the attractiveness of investors. These developments by the community sector can improve the quality of human resources, especially for coastal communities, by developing  innovative products from the waste recycling  industry. The community sector can also become a service provider for the domestic tourism sector. Empowerment can be realized through cooperation with the private sector, MSMEs, and communities through training and waste processing processes listed in the R-Strategies so that they have added value that can answer market needs.

Addressing the marine debris problem by implementing R-Strategies realizes wider investment opportunities. Implementing R-Strategies can build a reputation for good ocean utilization, relatively affordable operational costs, and sustainable capital turnover.  The implementation reinforces the essence of implementing a blue economy integrated with the triple-bottom-line concept of environmental, social, and governance (ESG). Marine ecosystems are currently Indonesia’s most significant contributor to GDP (Nasution, 2022). It shows that the country’s dependence on the maritime sector requires an alternative strategy. Multi-sector implementation through R-Strategies supporting the ESG concept has created a chain of sustainability and supports goals in sustainable development on a global scale.

Rhin Khairina Rahmat
Rhin Khairina Rahmat
Rhin Khairina Rahmat - Master's Student of International Relations majoring Master of Arts at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.