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Indonesian platform meeting: exploring new ambitions and opportunities

What’s happening now and what’s next for Dutch-Indonesian water cooperation? Hosted by Partners for Water, over fifty professionals came together on 26 October during the Dutch-Indonesian Platform Meeting in The Hague.

Attendees, consisting of individuals from knowledge institutions, private-, governmental- and non-governmental organisations, exchanged their ambitions, priorities and opportunities for water initiatives between the Netherlands and Indonesia. Discover their main take-aways.

“What are your aspirations for the Dutch water sector in Indonesia?” asks Lisa Hartog, Delta Coordinator for Indonesia at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management while kicking off the Indonesian platform meeting. With enthusiasm she goes on saying, “Today’s focus is to connect, explore and strengthen the long-term collaboration between the two countries in the water sector.”

She invites the participants to brainstorm on their ambitions, lessons learned and opportunities during engaging breakout sessions. These brainstorm sessions are part of a broader study aimed at identifying the sector’s prospects in Indonesia and explore the best ways the Dutch government can assist in this. The room quickly divides into four groups, with participants actively joining in on lively discussions.

© Feike Faase Fotografie

“What I took away from today is that understanding the local culture might be more key to implementing water solutions than knowing the relevant technologies.” – participant brainstorm

Capacity is already high within the communities and local governments in Indonesia when it comes to water management. I think it’s important not to focus on building capacity, but rather on strengthening it.

Participant Brainstorm

Current projects in Indonesia

To explore the current role of the Dutch water sector in Indonesia, various ongoing projects are highlighted. Simon Van Meijeren, from Partners for Water, along with Trang Vu and Bas van Maren – both working for the Dutch consortium Ecoshape, discuss recent initiatives in Indonesia, funded by Partners for Water. “It is crucial to adopt an integrated view of the water problems in Indonesia,” van Meijeren states. “We try to do this through high-level strategic dialogues, co-creating solutions with local communities and improving inter-agency collaborations.” Vu and van Maren wholeheartedly concur. As the audience listens intently, they eagerly share their insights from a scoping mission in Sidoarjo, led by the Ecoshape consortium.

© Feike Faase Fotografie

The scoping mission’s objective was to assess the potential of implementing Nature-based Solutions (NBS) to enhance local aquaculture. Van Maren elaborates: “Initially, the focus was on milkfish- and shrimp yield and water quality, but it became clear that regional degradation of the physical system was a significant aspect of the problem.” Vu continues, “While various NBS appear feasible from a physical standpoint, their economic viability remains to be explored.” The Ecoshape consortium aims to integrate the lessons learned from this mission into future NBS project designs.

Curious to discover the results, lessons learned and recommended solutions? Find all the details in the scoping mission’s report provided below this article.

The polyculture of milkfish and shrimp is deeply ingrained in the culture of Sidarjo. It’s not merely a practice that can be replaced just for convenience.


Trang Vu

Young professionals

Delving further into Sidoarjo, two young professionals recount their former study experiences in this Indonesian coastal city. Joey de Hamer, currently with the Netherlands Red Cross, elaborates about his thesis study on the social impacts of the Sidoarjo mud volcano. This volcano has spewed hot mud continuously since 2006, displacing tens of thousands of residents and causing significant environmental and infrastructural damage. De Hamer comments, “While the ecological impacts of the mud volcano were broadly recognised, I found it enlightening to learn about the experiences and challenges faced by the nearby residents.”

© Feike Faase Fotografie

Meanwhile, Ardiyanti Cahyan, currently at Boskalis, shares her past internship which focused on water management at the Port of Teluk Lamong. Cahyan remarkes, “Being on-site allowed me to truly connect with and better understand the local issues.” Her take-home message? The importance of experiencing the local context for a more profound understanding of the problems at hand.

Change takes time

Straight after his arrival for a work visit to the Netherlands, Adriaan Palm, Deputy Head of Mission at the Dutch Embassy in Indonesia, succinctly summarises the event: “I think we all agree on the significance of engaging the local community to ensure project sustainability. Additionally, I’d like to recognise the value of collaborating with students and emerging professionals. And lastly, change is a gradual process. So, I encourage you to give yourself that time.” As the attendees shift towards the facilitated networking lunch, fresh perspectives and emerging ideas on today’s themes echo amid the lively chatter. While change may take time, the attendees sure don’t waste it.

Keen to keep the conversation going? You are invited to share your thoughts, ambitions or anything else you’d like to discuss with our core team working on the bilateral water cooperation with Indonesia. You can find the team’s contact details in the sidebar.

Results of the study of the ambitions of the Dutch water sector within Indonesia

Below you can find an infographic that highlights the key outcomes of the study that investigated the ambitions of the Dutch water sector within Indonesia. The study consisted of an online questionnaire complemented by focus group interviews conducted at the annual Indonesian Platform meeting in October 2023. The study was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

If you have any questions regarding the outcomes of the survey you can contact Simon van Meijeren:

 Apply for the Partners for Water subsidy scheme

Do you have an innovative technology, methodology or prototype in the field of water management? And would you like to use your knowledge, expertise and ingenuity to enhance water security in Indonesia? Apply for the Partners for Water subsidy scheme!

The scheme is applicable to innovations in the field of WASH, water quality and availability, climate adaptation, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and water infrastructure.

The following subsidy round opens in July. Apply for the mandatory intake interview now.

Learn more about the Partners for Water subsidy scheme

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