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Tortue en Indonésie
How do inequalities influence biological and social outcomes in MPAs in Indonesia? The Extension of the EU-AFD Research Facility on Inequalities program seeks to answer this in collaboration with SMERU to integrate inequality assessments and indicators into existing MPA policies in the country at all levels of governance.

MPAs are often associated with high poverty, being by design targeted at relatively untouched areas with low economic potential. Establishing an MPA can thus create a financial and social burden on resource-dependent communities, even if the benefits of doing so would bring higher yields or revenue in the future. Some stakeholders may benefit greatly from commercial activities (e.g., tourism, sale of higher-value products), while at the same time others are left out of the management processes, sometimes even those having most at stake. 

Because MPAs will most likely affect user groups disproportionately, inequality issues among stakeholders can easily arise.  Some aspects of MPA design, implementation, and management may contribute to positive ecological and well-being outcomes, while others will require tradeoffs. This coexistence of both co-benefits and trade-offs among stakeholder groups leads to tricky questions of equity, justice, and power in the design, implementation, and management of MPAs. There is a general lack of knowledge regarding how inequalities influence MPA outcomes. 

In brief, MPAs are a driver of inequalities in communities that rely heavily on marine resources, and a powerful tool to help reduce them. While being an important aspect of the well-being of the people involved and of the success of MPAs, inequality assessments and metrics are currently largely absent in the design, implementation and management of MPAs. This research projects aims at a deeper understanding of the inequality dynamics in MPAs in Indonesia, drawing upon existing data and specific case studies. It should help us gain better knowledge of how inequalities influence biological and social outcomes in MPAs, and bring insights on how to integrate inequality assessments and indicators in existing MPA policies in the country, at every level of governance.

This project is part of the Extension of the EU-AFD Research Facility on Inequalities (RFI). Coordinated by AFD and financed by the European Commission, the Extension of the RFI will contribute to the development of public policies aimed at reducing inequalities in four countries: South Africa, Mexico, Colombia and Indonesia over the period 2021-2025.



This project first went through a scoping phase which enabled to better understand the role of MPAs and its link to inequalities. This project aims to develop a framework for analyzing inequalities and their dynamics in MPAs in Indonesia, and to develop a toolbox for mainstreaming inequalities in the design, implementation and management of MPAs. It will also feed into the policy dialogue conducted by the EU and AFD on marine resource management and environmental protection. 

This project will therefore result in : 

  • A working paper summarizing the current knowledge on marine protected areas and inequalities in Indonesia (carried out by LPEM).
  • An in-depth research project on the links between inequality reductions and the management of marine protected areas, including cases studies of three MPAs (currently performed by the SMERU Institute).
  • Training and capacity building activities with practitioners and MPA managers on the inclusion of inequalities in MPA management practices.

You will find below the different research papers related to this project :

The benefits of Marine Protected Areas in fighting inequality and fostering environmental sustainability in Indonesia


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