Sabtu 27 Mar 2021 17:11 WIB

Harnessing waqf to respond climate crisis

Climate crisis is the main factor for severe natural disasters in Indonesia.

Suhu bumi makin memanas akibat perubahan iklim.
Foto: republika
Suhu bumi makin memanas akibat perubahan iklim.



BMKG recorded an anomaly temperature increase in February 2021 as one of the highest averages temperatures during their observations since 1981. The year 2020 also has been recorded as the second-highest temperature year, after 2016, with 0.7oC above normal. This significant temperature increase indicates the climate crisis in Indonesia, which has impacted us in several ways.


First, the climate crisis is the main factor for severe natural disasters in Indonesia. One of the most recent and devastating was the massive flood in South Kalimantan. It impacted ten regencies, with more than one hundred thousand people were evacuated due to the flood.


Second, the climate crisis also impacted the agricultural sector with extreme rainfalls in the rainy season and long drought in another season. Both are the main reason for the crop failure and made the price of agricultural commodities skyrocketing. The significant increase of chili price up to 140 thousand rupiahs per kg recently is one of the examples.


The considerable weather changing also has induced pest problems that compromised agricultural productivity. Having such trouble in our food value chain is indeed a critical issue for a country with more than 270 million people to feed.


Another impact of the climate crisis is the sea level rise. It makes many villages in the coastal area are underwater. Moreover, the intrusion of seawater into the land makes the drinking water is scarce to find.


Realizing the weight of the climate crisis impact, the government has done several budgetary initiatives. In 2019, the government established Indonesia Environment Fund to fill the financing gap in environmental initiatives. The climate budget tagging has been released to monitor and track climate-related expenditures in the national budget system.


Moreover, a disaster pooling fund as part of Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance has also been established to mitigate the risk due to the climate crisis. In the international platform, Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani, plays a significant role as the Co-Chair of the Finance Ministers Coalition for Climate Action 2021-2023 comprising 52 world members.


However, public participation is still the key point for Indonesia to respond to the climate crisis. Thus, President Jokowi emphasizes the role of society as one out of four agenda in responding climate crisis in his speech before the Climate Adaptation Summit, January 2021.


In this regard, waqf is one of the potential powers in the society that can be harnessed to respond the climate crisis. Waqf is a religious endowment that is dedicated for public welfare. Badan Wakaf Indonesia (BWI) estimates that Indonesia's potential cash waqf is up to IDR 180 trillion per year; meanwhile, the valuation of land waqf in Indonesia is up to IDR 2.000 trillion. This vast amount is potential to combat the climate crisis and bring sustainable socio-economic impact for society.


There are several best practices in climate project initiatives that mobilize Islamic social finance instruments like waqf and zakat. One of the most relevant is the waqf forest projects. There are three waqf forest areas in Indonesia, such as in Jantho forest, Aceh; Leuweung Sabilulungan forest, initiated by Bandung Regency District Government; and Cibunian waqf forest in Bogor pioneered by Yayasan Yassiru.


These projects typically dedicated the waqf to protect and keep the forest area from other land use. Moreover, the site is managed to bring value to the society who will become the guardian for the forest itself. For instance, the waqf forest project in Bogor is also incorporating zakat fund into its project for beekeeping activities for the poor. The beekeeping activities and the forest become complementary in bringing both environmental and economic benefits for society.


Waqf energy is another best practice of waqf utilization for climate crisis initiative. Recently, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Istiqlal Mosque, and have initiated the waqf energy project to cover the electricity usage of the grand mosque Istiqlal. Moreover, Wakaf Energy Nusantara Foundation also runs an energy initiative project to electrify Pesantren Al Qolam in East Nusa Tenggara using solar energy. This project is so pivotal in providing energy in rural areas while maintaining the environment clean. Similarly, UNDP and BAZNAS have utilized zakat funds to establish a micro-hydro power plant and bring light to Lubuk Bangkar Village in Sarolangun Regency, 2018.


Another climate project example is community development in Bedono Village, Demak. This village is underwater because of the abrasion of seawater to the land. In this area, BAZNAS utilizing zakat funds to help the villager by supporting their economic activities and replanting the area with mangroves to prevent further land loss and sustaining the marine biota.


Those project examples show that the waqf fund can bring significant impact to respond to the climate crisis. Nonetheless, there are still several areas that are important to be improved.


First, literacy on waqf needs to be expanded. The national waqf literacy index in 2020 shows that the national waqf literacy is low, with 50.48. The basic waqf comprehension score is 57.67, while the advanced waqf comprehension is only 37.97. About 79 percent of this survey respondents are 17 to 45 years old, which we might infer that the middle-class Muslim in Indonesia are not fully aware of this instrument.


Literacy on waqf for millennial can be streamlined together with the climate issue. The World Economic Forum Global Shapers Annual Survey in 2017 shows that millennial are more concern to climate issue rather than other global issue such as large scale conflict and inequality.


Second, improvement in waqf management. The waqf literacy survey also reveals that 45 percent of respondents committing to waqf because of credibility, transparency, and accountability factors. These factors are closely related to the management quality in the waqf organization. In this sense, it is essential to digitalize the waqf operation with a robust waqf information system and technology. This system will provide real-time information for the decision-makers, reduce cost and gaining trust from the public.


Third, specifically related to the climate issues, it is necessary to have capacity building for waqf organization. By having sufficient knowledge on the climate crisis, they become aware and able to structure the waqf fund for the climate initiatives. Moreover, they also can mitigate risk during and post-project implementation.


Finally, waqf has the potential to jointly address the climate crisis alongside the government budget initiatives. Several climate projects funded by waqf fund have been rolled out and creating impact. Nonetheless, literacy, quality management, and capacity building related to climate issues need to be improved.

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