The Centre for Human Ecology has hosted a study visit to Scotland by planners from Papua Province, Indonesia.

Why would government officials from the planning agency in Papua Province, Indonesia, come all the way to Scotland to learn about climate change and sustainable community development? Why, indeed, as part of a programme that has now been running with the Centre for Human Ecology since 2012? The answer is that Scotland’s community-based land trusts are leading the world in practices that try to tackle climate change from the bottom up. This is based on local empowerment and deepening the connection between people and the land.

For the past four years the CHE has been involved in a training programme with BAPPEDA, the government planning agency of the Indonesian province of Papua. This is focussed on climate change mitigation and adaptation, especially through the conservation of tropical forest cover. The CHE team’s approach seeks to develop bottom-up leadership that can work with the various levels of government to build capacity that enhances community resilience. The programme is also tied in with the South-African based Training for Transformation approach through Vérène’s work as a TfT trainer. This has been instrumental in TfT sending their head trainer to run workshops in the Highlands and Islands of Papua. The programme commenced in 2011. Maria Latumahina of West Papua Province was working for the British Embassy in Jakarta and was sent on a course about land and spirituality run by Alastair McIntosh and Tom Forsyth of Scoraig at Schumacher College in the south of England. This led to the first Papua-Scotland study tour in 2012 run by CHE graduates or Fellows, Camille Dressler (Eigg), Iain MacKinnon (Skye), Sibongile Pradhan (with Nepalese experience), Alastair, and his wife, Vérène Nicolas, who previously coordinated the CHE MSc programme at Strathclyde University. On the isles of Eigg and Skye they studied bottom up community empowerment linked to crofting and land reform, including the creation of local renewable energy systems such as that on Eigg,  where, as a result of land reform, over 90% of domestic and business energy requirements are now generated from local and community-managed sources.

In 2013 Vérène and Alastair carried out further training within Papua Province and a further study tour in Lowland Scotland, looking at Development Trusts in settlements like Fintry. Whereas previously BAPPEDA has drawn upon its own budgets, this year a further study tour was funded by the UK government’s Climate Change Unit in Jakarta. This time the study tour’s purpose was to deepen the understanding of planners as to how bottom-up community empowerment can work harmoniously with the requirements of government its policy instruments of regulation and legislation. It was led by Vérène and Alastair with support from Sibongile and also, CHE graduate Maire McCormack. Maire is a civil servant in the Scottish Government who speaks Indonesian from her time as a VSO volunteer in Java.

In this work CHE’s role is to provide an institutional context and base in Govan, and to serve as the official body through which visas can be processed, finance audited, etc., all of which is supported by a 15% institutional “tithe” on agreed budget lines. As such, the work in Papua strengthens the whole organisation and not just the individuals directly concerned.

The full report on the visit to Glasgow and the Hebrides in March 2015 can now be downloaded in PDF format.


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