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Indonesia’s Environmental Diplomacy under Yudhoyono: A Critical–Institutionalist–Constructivist Analysis

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Indonesia’s environmental diplomacy during Yudhoyono’s administration gained positive international recognition, yet Indonesia’s high-profile diplomatic initiatives took place amid a continued path of environmental decline. Broadly defining environmental diplomacy as a mediating institution between universalism and particularism through the co-constitutive processes of environmental regimes, this article employs a critical–institutionalist–constructivist framework to explain the gap between Indonesia’s commitments to universal norms of environmental preservation and the corresponding local practices. Using both primary and secondary data, the research offers a boundary analysis of diplomacy as the hub between universal norms and local values concerning human–nature relations. Findings suggest that however assertive Indonesia may be in its external diplomatic initiatives, the benefits that it expects to gain from a ‘green reputation’ will only go as far as its efforts to strengthen the foundational local institutions that are required to adapt and localize its global environmental diplomacy strategies.

Affiliations: 1: Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Indonesia West JavaIndonesia

* The author would like to thank all those who kindly shared their time to be interviewed and engaged in this research, including representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Indonesian Ministry of Environment, the Indonesian Business Council for Sustainable Development, as well as a number of local environmental non-governmental organizations, which cannot be named one by one. I would also like to acknowledge the Center for Global Civil Society Studies (PACIVIS) at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Indonesia for assistance in facilitating fieldwork, and for the excellent field research assistance of Yosie Polimpung, Riza Aryani, Annisa Nirbito and Azis Rahmani. The author is also indebted to the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions. This research was funded by the Directorate of Research and Community Service (DRPM) of the University of Indonesia.

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