Innovation in sustainable economic development has not always been a priority in regional development. However, under the leadership of Bupati H. Dodi Reza Alex Noerdin Lic., Econ., M.B.A and Wakil Bupati Beni Hernedi, A.Md, Kabupaten Musi Banyuasin (Muba) is accelerating the realization of sustainable economic development. Muba is even preparing to become the capital of sustainable energy based on palm oil to optimize the management and production of sustainable energy in line with the SDGs by 2030.
The realization of sustainable economic development has earned Kabupaten Muba the Sustainable Regional Competitiveness Award at the Katadata Regional Summit 2020. This award, given by the Regional Autonomy Implementation Monitoring Committee (KPPOD), Kinara Indonesia, and Katadata Insight Center, appreciates the sustainability-based innovations consistently implemented by the Muba Government.
A study conducted since the first quarter of 2020 on 356 regencies in Indonesia revealed that Kabupaten Muba, with high-quality governance, a highly committed government, and good local innovations towards sustainability, scored high on the Sustainable Regional Competitiveness Index (IDSDB). Notably, Muba scored 90.79 for quality of life and 81.87 for natural resource management. These scores positioned Muba in the second place in the IDSDB with an overall score of 64.48.
The key to this success lies in Muba’s efforts to balance regency development with its abundant natural resources, infrastructure, social support, and leadership that supports governance improvement while prioritizing the welfare of its people. Additionally, the local government of Kabupaten Muba consistently innovates, taking into account indicators of green development.
Through collaboration with the Green Trade Initiative Foundation (IDH) and its network, Kabupaten Muba is developing various opportunities for green cooperation and investments through the Verified Sourcing Area (VSA) scheme. The VSA scheme unites plantation owners, supply chain actors, and end buyers within a regency to create sustainable resources.
In this business model, the Production, Protection, Inclusion (PPI) agreement promotes transparency in the supply chain. The VSA pilot project implemented in Kabupaten Muba supports the achievement of targets outlined in the PPI agreement, including a 30% increase in palm oil production (CPO), a reduction in deforestation rates inside and outside concessions, and land ownership legality.
The achievements of the Kabupaten Muba Government include receiving the Adipura Trophy 21 times and recognition from the British government as a pioneer in implementing zero-emission power plants. This recognition is a result of Muba’s commitment to realizing a sustainable city that aligns economic, social, and ecological growth with good governance. Muba was also the first regency in Indonesia to support the implementation of the Kemitraan Pengelolaan Lanskap/KOLEGA (Landscape Management Partnership) in South Sumatra to support green development. Additionally, Muba received the 2020 Main Proklim Award for successfully increasing food resilience through integrated farming that combines agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, and land use.
These achievements in Kabupaten Muba are a result of collaboration with various stakeholders, initiated by Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari (LTKL). As a collaboration forum formed and managed by the regency government to achieve sustainable development, LTKL aims to bridge support for the regency to achieve sustainable development from national and global development partners, including civil society, academia, and the private sector.
Furthermore, LTKL collaborates with Supernova Ecosystem, a catalytic organization that helps drive sustainable investment at the sub-national level in Indonesia through green commodities and sustainable development. Through this collaboration, Kabupaten Muba demonstrates its commitment to continue promoting development that benefits the community, attracting investment from the private sector, especially impact investment.
One foreign investor, Mana Impact Partners Ltd., which has been actively involved in social entrepreneurship in Indonesia, has expressed a specific interest in investing in Kabupaten Muba. The regency boasts significant economic potential, including extensive production forests covering nearly 30% of its area, major commodities like palm oil and rubber, and gambier and betel nut leaves ready for development. According to Patti Chu, Chief Growth Officer/Co-Founder of Mana Impact Partners Ltd., Kabupaten Muba has many agricultural opportunities, which align with their company’s focus. “We see a strong push from the government to make the farming system more sustainable, which is a positive driver for the larger adoption of regenerative and sustainable farming practices,” says Patti.
The influx of investment into Indonesia is notably high, with a realization of 102.2% in 2019 according to the Investment Coordinating Board. However, unfortunately, this realization is not evenly distributed across regions. Hence, various other regions need to innovate with a focus on sustainable principles, as initiated by the Kabupaten Muba Government.
Another innovative effort by the Kabupaten Muba Government in developing its potential is a collaboration with a private company to produce factory-made asphalt from natural rubber. With this natural rubber mixture, asphalt becomes more flexible and resistant to water penetration, making it more durable. Not only environmentally friendly, but this rubberized asphalt is predicted to increase the income of rubber farmers by doubling the selling price to Rp 20,000 per kilogram.
Kabupaten Muba also has gambier plants, locally known as gambo, which are underutilized. Gambier fruits not only have many benefits as raw materials for cosmetics and medicines, but the waste latex from their production can also be used as a natural dye for Gambo Muba batik. Gambo Muba batik, a textile with a unique tie-dye method, dyed with gambier latex initially considered waste and discarded, is now not only an eco-fashion product highly sought after worldwide but has also empowered the local community, especially housewives, and increased economic income.
Another environmentally friendly product innovation by Kabupaten Muba that is gaining attention in the market is betel nut leaves. These leaves are processed into food containers to replace styrofoam and plastic. Before being molded using a press machine, betel nut leaves are thoroughly washed with water. They are then dried using electric heaters or manually under the sunlight and cut to the desired size. Betel nut leaf plates are now widely ordered by various restaurants in Jakarta and Bali.
Written by Stephanie Mamonto forSupernova Ecosystem.