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Walk the Talk, and Do It With Your Style

PMLCC Report, Bangkok, 12-19 October 2009

by Deny Willy, Director of Apikayu Foundation

Surprisingly, I was selected to represent Indonesia as a participant of Project Management and Leadership Training for Climate Change (PMLCC) 2009. Frankly, there is a big question in mind, wondering why I was chosen, since ‘environmental subject’ is not my background, which I find the reason later on. Together with Ghani Kunto, and Pungky Widiaryanto, another participants from Indonesia, we joined this international program.

I have joined a similar program of young leadership training with young leaders from South-East Asia countries, but PMLCC open a discussion among European and Asian young leaders, so I could imagine how fruitful the program was.

We learned about leadership quite a lot, each activity pushed everyone to learn in depth about basic principles of  leadership. We used various games to approach  those basic principles, we took a moment to think about ourselves in relation to the leadership dimensions and in the same time tried to assess our behavior and awareness against each dimension, there we had a chance to dig deeper.

Next to doing those exercises, we had input about the situation and other people’s ideas in term of reacting to climate change and environmental issues around the world. I had my first learning of understanding the low-carbon control and economy through this forum. I was fascinated when Dr. Anond Snidvong (Director of  START Regional Center) explained very clearly about what we have done to our planet and our daily activity emitted carbon emission and produced green gas house which supposed to be a cause of extreme climate change, devastating disaster we are witnessing right now. The message is how we could control carbon emission by changing our lifestyles. He gave an illustration how our 1 kg organic trash in our daily life will emit more than 10 kg carbon during two years of its biodegradation. Then things come up in my mind, how many carbon we released in my creative process of producing sketch to design prototyping, and what about my students, no one ever explained them to concern on this. No lectures to my students in my college about our responsibility to have a low carbon diet!

We had chance to watch and discus ADB “Mini Stem” Climate Change film introduced by Mr. Khan ram-Indra, Climate Change Office, British Embassy Bangkok. I remembered Prof. Emil Salim emphasized that, Indonesia had lost 29 islands during years because of sea level rising, the expert says in next coming years if sea level raising further we could be lost up to 2005 islands, and it could be more, Professor stressed, to Indonesia, climate change is not a theory but a survival of this country.

But I found also different thoughts from other participants during our discussion. This forum consisted of young scientist, young policy maker, young social leader, academician, from Europe and Asian countries. This forum has became so colorful with their thoughts, I remembered my friend from Greece Theodoros Anagnostopoulos and  Stefan Balici from Romania said, don’t be so romantic about climate change issue since we don’t have any convincing evidence that extreme climate change caused by human, so far we are assuming. Michaela Rýgrová from Czech responded that climate change is happening since the beginning of the universe, thanks to climate change from ice age to nowadays, what becomes a problem is its speed up of climate change, do we need a proper word for climate change?

Another interesting point on that day was we need to have a illustration about what bad things could happen in term of climate change based on more specific targets, for instance the lost of 6,7 billion GDP in next 100 years ahead will not be easily understood by people, rather than policy maker. It means we need to fit the message we are trying to say about the climate change to the purposive target, for instance some people will easily understand what happen by seeing sea level up and island lost, but some people will get the idea by seeing figures, numbers or graphic, etc.

We had very fantastic presentations from a number of delegates, how lucky I am to be here to see creative people from different fields, from creative artist who uses technology that produces sounds from the plants, water, and then young ambassador of climate change from different countries sharing their activities that vibrant of one dimension of becoming a leader which is I WALK THE TALK; I act as I wish others to do. Theater Artist that showed their big talent with children around the world. Also a group of young creative scientists with their ideas of science communication with fun around the world through science theater. They had a Christmas performance for children, a way of scientists explained the science of Santa Claus would shared million presents to kids around the world within a night, they explained the physics theory of relativity, they explain also diabetes in term of Santa Claus should take care his health (you may find this group at www.scico.gr).

One of the programs was a site visit to a few places, where all delegates had to choose one of the locations;

1. Population & Community Development Association (PDA) is the leading and most diversified NGO in Thailand. PDA has pioneered sustainable grassroots endeavours, marked by extensive villager involvement not only as beneficiaries, but also as partners, planners, managers and leaders. PDA’s programs are based on the belief that local people are best suited to be an equal partner in shaping and sustaining their own development (http://www.pda.or.th/eng/)

2. Appropriate Technology Association (ATA), ATA is a non-profit organisation established in 1982 with a mandate to carry out research and development, and promote appropriate technology for the betterment of rural society i.e. biomass, biodiesel, energy efficient cooker, organic farming. ATA also promotes the alternatives on sustainable development to local community in Northeast area of Thailand for their sustainable living conditions. The development objective of the project is by 2010 the use of sustainable energy in Thailand is increased in relation to total energy supply.

3. Elephant Conservation in Khao Yai Area, where people could see how they manage this conservation area, the reason…

4. Khao Yai National Park is situated two hours from Bangkok in a complicated mountain range  where this park is the second largest in Thailand. Its waterfalls include the 80 meters Haeo Narok and Haeo Suwat made famous from the film The Beach. The Park was established in 1962 and is the Thailand’s first national park. In 1984, the Park was made an ASEAN Heritage Park and in 2005 it was inscribed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most important think I learned from this site visit was Thai people had chance to see perfect scenery of huge forest with its richous special and biodiversity, just by having a two hours land trip from their hectic capital, Bangkok. How many hours should we reach a forest from our capital city, Jakarta? You guess..

(I supposed to go to PDA rather than Khao Yai National Park, since I didn’t read the information seriously. I have missed the important information written that PDA has pioneered sustainable grassroots endeavours for water resource development and sanitation, income-generation, environmental conservation and promotion of small-scale rural enterprise programmes instead of instead  of HIV/AIDS education and prevention which I thought it was not my field, how come!? However I enjoyed pretty much the green scenery out there).

We had a thoughtful learning while watching ‘The Age of Stupid’ movie, to understand that we are heading to age of  passiveness or the age of ignorance, we can be too late, and it was so horrible. On the last day, we came to realize there are many ways to set up a creative work by tools that are provided to sharpen our design projects. The training welcome each to negotiate, looking for partnership and gaining our communication skills in order to conduct an environmental project with a background of creative activity.

I felt enlightened by so many examples from participant’s presentation, advocacy, technical assistance,  campaigns, performing art, artwork in the field of environmental which can be approached by the media art. I presented my last project of utilizing local raw materials (the trunk of snakefruit/salacca edulis) to increase the income of local people and keeping them away from landslide disaster in the future. Through this forum, I promised myself to re-set up the project since some problems had set off the activity right now.  I share my thought about 3 things in relation to the potential of art as a tool of environment advocacy:

  1. Easy to be delivered
  2. Low investment
  3. Are easily replicated

I consider art as a mean of an inexpensive and an effective way to create a movement based on community participation, however, the movement at the same time should be a benefit to the targeted people as well. Whether it is financially or mentally benefited, this means that people can be pushed to participate in the global movement to protect the environment if they make benefit of it. That was my thought to share in this forum.

(The illustrated project can be seen from the activities accompanied by Apikayu Foundation, in Cineam Village, Kab. Tasikmalaya, Indonesia in terms of utilizing local raw materials (snakefruit trunks) to increase local people income and keeping them away from landslide disaster in the future (you can see this project through the website www.yayasanapikayu.org).

My educational background is not directly related to the environment, however, I worked my way to admire and appreciate nature and the environment. My job as a consultant in the field of skill training handicraft products provide opportunity to see a lot of potential and challenges in the nature around me. Some development of handicraft products that I developed with the use of natural materials around us has a positive potential in building awareness of local communities to preserve and protect the environment. Besides using natural raw materials designed become an added-value product.

Walk the talk, and do it with your style!