25.04.2014 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Local governments in Indonesia agreed to strengthen collaboration to address societal vulnerabilities and environmental changes

"Presentation by Professor Helmi, Vice Rector of Andalas University, 25 April 2014"

Padang, 25 April 2014. Representatives from the Indonesian provinces of Yogyakarta Special District, West Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) and Ambon, met in Padang, Sumatra, to adopt action plans to strengthen cooperation between different stakeholders with regard to social issues arising from environmental changes. Senior Government Representatives confirmed their institutions financial support to improve local governments planning in improving systems and procedures for administering coordinated and participatory development of policies and programs with regard to social inclusion and forestry management.

With Indonesia housing the world’s third largest tropical rainforest, sustainable forest management is an issue of primary importance. Sixty percent of Indonesia's land is forested, 37% of which are degraded to a certain degree. This surface is currently decreasing due to legal and illegal logging, forest fires and land conversion; Indonesian forests were thus losing 1.17 million hectares per year in early 2000’s. Such practices affect 40 million inhabitants living in surrounding areas, threatening livelihood in regions such as West Sumatra, NTB and Central Java, where the population is particularly vulnerable and ill-equipped to face such challenges.

Action plans, designed as responses to this social situation, were the outcome of the workshop entitled "Building local government and community capacity to address social impact of deforestation and land degradation in Indonesia", co-organised by Andalas University and UNESCO Office, Jakarta and funded by the Indonesian Government, through Indonesia Fund-in-Trust. The workshop brought together local governments’ officials (districts, regional and central) from the provinces, Universities of Mataram, Gadja Mada and Andalas, national and regional experts. UNESCO will support, as an immediate follow-up, social impact assessments in each district to feed into the development of the local government action plans. The latter will be implemented over 12 months and follow ups will take place in each district in the form of technical support and local workshops that UNESCO will organise in cooperation with Andalas University.

On April 23rd, delegations from each province, led by the Heads of the districts, visited Solok District's Community Learning and Action Centre (CLAC) in Alahan Panjang. This visit was also attended by academics from the three provinces, representative from UNESCO Headquarters, Dr John Crowley, Deputy Director of UNESCO Jakarta Dr Shahbaz Khan and Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences Mr. Charaf Ahmimed. It was the occasion for delegations to observe and learn from this CLAC and technology transfer in agriculture and forestry that has recently been developed by Andalas University under the leadership of Vice Rector Professor Helmi, as an initiative aiming to support sustainable forestry management. A discussion was held following the visit in order to contribute to the elaboration of the action plans for each district.

The workshop was held on April 24th and 25th and opened with a session presenting three different approaches developed by Prof Helmi, Andalas University, Dr. Zainal, Ministry of Higher Education-Malaysia and Dr. Crowley, UNESCO, with regards to reducing social impacts of environmental changes. Dr. John Crowley made a comprehensive presentation expressing the need for an integrated approach to issues arising from environmental changes. He also emphasised the fact that social changes are a key driver of environmental changes; this interconnectivity illustrates a scheme of non-linear, multiple and diffuse relationships. Such multiple patterns call for a linkage between knowledge and action; an approach that UNESCO endorses by bringing together academics, policy makers as well as civil society organizations in order to share experiences and expertise with regards to mitigating social impacts of environmental changes.

This presentation was followed by Dr Zainal's who emphasised this need for a transdisciplinary approach and the importance of designing and co-producing knowledge. He advocated towards moving from a triple-helix stakeholders scheme to a quadruple-helix scheme that involves the public and private sectors, academia as well as civil society. Finally, Prof. Helmi, co-organiser of this event, drew the audience's attention to the importance of "thinking globally and acting locally". He defended the idea that the previously developed global framework should be used as a tool to facilitate actions at the local level. Dr Khan, Deputy Director of UNESCO Jakarta talked about the challenges of the “Paradigm Lock” and how to reconcile researchers’ interests with social needs and demands.  

A panel discussion allowed representatives of local governments, representatives of the Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of National Development Planning, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Social Welfare, and the National Council on Climate change, to reflect on the previous presentations. This conversation led to a commitment from local governments to fund Community Learning and Action Centers (CLACs) in their own districts in order to act locally, involving academics as well as local communities and promoting a sense of ownership. Action plans were developed and it was reminded that UNESCO, in cooperation with Andalas University, would provide the necessary expertise to the implementation of these plans.

In the closing remarks, Mr Charaf Ahmimed, UNESCO Jakarta, commended the enthusiasm and commitment of local governments officials to address societal vulnerabilities. He stressed the importance of involving the local communities in conducting the social impact assessments and to seize the opportunity of this inter-regional initiative to strengthen collaboration at the regional and national level.  

For more information about this initiative, please contact
Charaf Ahmimed
Programme Specialist
Social and Human Sciences
UNESCO Jakarta Office

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