Aceh is Indonesia’s westernmost province, situated on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra where the Andaman Sea, Malacca Straits and Indian Ocean converge. Its waters boast a rich diversity of species including 13 Pacific and four Indian Ocean hard corals, marine turtles and dugongs, sharks and rays. In the terrestrial realm, Aceh’s forest complexes are home to globally important populations of Sumatran tiger, as well as Asian elephant and Sumatran rhinoceros. The diversity of bird species includes the magnificent rhinoceros hornbill. These landscapes and seascapes – and the species they harbour – are, however, under threat from over-exploitation of natural resources, alongside destructive and unsustainable practices including the clearing of forests and peatlands for oil palm and other plantations, mining and infrastructure.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is supporting the government of Aceh and other stakeholders to establish a low-emissions development strategy. The aim of the strategy is to meet the need for economic development while at the same time contributing to Indonesia’s commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Gender mainstreaming is a key element of this work. This means considering the implications of policies, programmes and actions for women as well as men. Mainstreaming is important not just from an ethical perspective but also for practical reasons. Research elsewhere in Sumatra showed that women and men have different preferences for land-use change, with women preferring forest conversion to oil palm and men being more inclined to support conservation. There is also a growing body of evidence that gender equality and women’s empowered participation, alongside men, leads to more effective and sustainable conservation. Hence, the exclusion of women – effectively half the population – from decision-making about natural resources could seriously undermine the effectiveness, as well as the fairness, of any sustainable development strategy.