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Consequences of Decentralization: Environmental Impact Assessment and Water Pollution Control in Indonesia

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After having been one of the most centralized states in the world for more than thirty years, in 2001 Indonesia introduced a sweeping program of decentralization with important consequences for the management of the industrial sector. This article explores whether the decentralization process has led to substantial changes in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and enforcement of water pollution law. Its main findings are that the general division of authority in both fields has become less fragmented and that differences between districts have increased, but, in practice, not so much has changed as one would have expected. For EIA, “horizontal” disputes between sectoral agencies have been supplanted by “vertical” disputes between different levels of government. Monitoring and sanctioning of industrial water pollution have mainly continued within the scheme of the provincial program started under Soeharto's centralized regime, with still few initiatives at the district level. If any, such initiatives are usually driven by public complaints. On the other hand, there are indications that in the longer run the institutional changes may have more significant effects on EIA and enforcement practice. For EIA, these seem to be negative; for enforcement of water pollution regulation this depends much on the situation within a district or a province.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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