Four Fulbright students and scholars brought together 30 conservation scholars, practitioners, and community members for a workshop at Universitas Nasional in Jakarta entitled “Engaging conservation across difference: communities, science and customary rights in Indonesia” on July 6-7, 2017.
The workshop, spearheaded by a collective of Fulbright scholars, aimed to create a conversation around how conservation and development agendas affect local communities, as well as what recognizing and respecting local cultures, customary management systems, and resource rights actually entails.
During this event, the participants discussed the challenges and opportunities for Indonesian conservationists and local communities to pursue conservation together. Participants in particular focused on what it might mean to create and engage conservation projects across “difference” – from different islands and provinces to different focal ecosystems and conservation priorities to different systems of cultural values and rights. Building partnerships is the fundamental goal of the Fulbright program, and it was in that spirit that this workshop sought to foster multilateral relationships among scientists, practitioners, and community members, as well as advance the discussion of how to collaboratively shape conservation programs in Indonesia.
The objectives for this workshop were threefold, to: 1) increase awareness about the importance of incorporating multiple stakeholders into conservation planning, execution, and dissemination; 2) promote discussion about bridging communities, scales, and values across conservation landscapes; and 3) bring together scientists and practitioners from the U.S. and Indonesia to build international partnerships and increase inclusivity in science and conservation.
“Based on group discussions and conversations with participants, we believe that we succeeded in achieving these objectives. Multiple participants expressed their enjoyment of the event, as well as its efforts to engage diverse perspectives and bring local community voices and issues to the forefront of the conservation conversation,” said Fulbright Scholar Wendy Erb, who co-organize the workshop along with Fulbright Students Florence Durney, Jonathan McLeod and Walker DePuy.
Specific examples include a community leader and local NGO practitioner expressing happiness that the event has communicated long-standing community perceptions of injustice regarding resource rights in their landscape, and how resource companies and conservation efforts need to understand this.
Participants were also excited to see their network grow and how their own area of expertise might branch out in new directions. For instance, one of the event moderators, a professor of customary law, expressed his enthusiasm about learning how customary law touches on myriad issues of conservation in Indonesia. Lastly, the event ended with commitments by the group to build the foundations of a forum, maintain communication, hold annual meetings, and work to create a platform for sharing case studies and resources with each other about local communities’ engagement with conservation projects.
Overall, Wendy said, this workshop was a great success. Wendy and her co-organizers want to thank the following institutions and individuals for their contributions. Financial support was generously provided by The American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF), the Fulbright Program, and The American Institute for Indonesian Studies (AIFIS).
Fulbright students and scholars organized the event in collaboration with the Office of International Cooperation and Faculty of Biology at Universitas Nasional in Jakarta. In particular, Dr. Jito Sugardjito was instrumental in planning and executing this event, with critical support from Ms. Inez Saptenno and Dr. Tatang Mitra-Setia, as well as numerous UNAS students and staff.
The workshop was attended by community leaders from Lamalera, NTT, and Long Lamcin, East Kalimantan; NGO representatives from Alam Sehat Lestari, Center for International Forestry Research, Gunung Palung Orangutan Project, Komunitas Teras, Lestari, Payo-Payo, Samdhana Institute, Yayasan Badak Indonesia, and Zoological Society of London; and faculty and students from universities including Universitas Gadjah Mada, Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Muhammadiyah Palangkaraya, Universitas Nasional, Universitas Nusa Cendana, and Universitas Papua.
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