The land of Papua, which is the western part of New Guinea Island, is the Special Autonomous Region an integral part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (the East territory belonging to the independent state of Papua New Guinea). Administratively, this special autonomous region is divided into two Provincial Governments, namely Papua Province with an area of 319,036 km2 and West Papua Province with an area of 140,376 km2.
The land of Papua is endowed with a wealth of natural and diverse ecosystems, including forests, beaches, coral reefs, lakes and rivers, as well as tropical glaciers. The biodiversity of Papua is half the total number of Indonesia’s biodiversity, especially the endemic flora and fauna found only in this Land. Based on the information to date, Tanah Papua is inhabited by 15,000 s.d. 20,000 plant species (of which approximately 55% are endemic) include about 2,000 species of orchids, 602 species of birds (52% are endemic), 125 species of mammals (58% endemic species), and herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) 223 species (35% endemic species), 25 species of freshwater fish and 1200 species of marine fish, and an estimated 150,000 species of insects (Alison, 2007; Marshall & Behler, 2013). Not only that, the Land of Papua is also rich in natural resources in the form of mineral and oil and mineral resources and customs. There are approximately 265 local languages symbolizing the existing tribes with a variety of local wisdom and become the basic capital for green, blue and orange economic development or sustainable economy based on land, sea and creativity.
However, the reality shows that Tanah Papua is so rich, but the highest poverty rate in Indonesia, Papua and West Papua always occupy the lowest two in the index of human development index (HDI). Economic development in Tanah Papua is and will continue to be driven to improve the economy and finance development activities in the hope that through this activity can improve the welfare and life expectancy of the people in Papua. Limited or underdeveloped service sector and other sectors, encourage the government to utilize natural resources as the main capital of economic development. This can be seen from the contribution of various economic sectors in economic growth in recent years, where the greatest contribution comes from the utilization of natural resources. Thus, any efforts to increase the economy will have a direct impact on the pressure of natural resource use.
Lessons learned from other countries and regions in Indonesia show that unplanned use of natural resources will not last long, as well as natural and human sustainability, and only provide economic benefits to certain groups. This phenomenon can be seen in the Land of Papua (including in West Papua Province), although there is real progress in economic growth, but the growth has not been in line with the improvement of people’s welfare and has even caused some damage and environmental pollution.
In response, specifically the West Papua Provincial Government has declared itself a Conservation Province on October 19, 2015, which aims to ensure that development activities must always consider: environmental protection to ensure the life of the people; protection and preservation of biodiversity; the management and utilization of resources wisely and sustainably; and restoration of the degraded environment. It can be concluded that the Conservation Province aims to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and the management of natural resources in order to support the life of the community, which is nothing but sustainable development.
It is therefore necessary for a concerted and comprehensive effort to determine the various plans and actions to realize the Land of Papua to be Safe, Prosperous and Dignity and ensure the protection of biodiversity and the utilization of natural resources wisely; and improving the welfare of communities through ecotourism and the biodiversity-based creative economy. As a follow-up to the important recommendations of previous international meetings / conferences held in Jayapura, Papua Province of 2016 (ICBE 2016 – International Conference on Biodiversity, Eco-Tourism and Creative Economy 2016), it is important to organize the same meetings with raising priorities and exploring the potential and excellence of West Papua Province to be conveyed to all stakeholders, in order to support sustainable development in West Papua in particular and Tanah Papua in general. It will also contribute to the national interests of Indonesia and globally to the benefit of mankind.