“How does research relate to policy? Research is intellectual moments, while policy is mostly political moments. Research is often assumed to have positive links with development, both policies and practices,” said Mr. Yanuar Nugroho, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Executive Office of the President during the launch of WRI Indonesia’s Wahana Riset program.
WRI Indonesia has just launched the Wahana Riset program, which brings 19 young Indonesian researchers (out of 500 applicants) into the WRI team for one year, where they will conduct research in the sectors of forestry, human well being and renewable energy. To kick-off this this new program, WRI Indonesia invited prominent representatives from the Indonesian government, foreign governments, NGOs and the media to the launch on August 28, 2017. Opening remarks were given by Nirarta ‘Koni’ Samadhi, executive director of WRI Indonesia and the keynote speakers were Bambang Setiadi, Chairman of the National Research Council of Indonesia (DRN), and Yanuar Nugroho, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Executive Office of the President. Asmoro Hadiyanto also gave a presentation on the Indonesian Science Fund, where he is the Resource Mobilization Director. While the speakers come from different backgrounds, they all conveyed a similar message: the necessity for evidence-based research and analysis in Indonesia.
As an independent research organization, WRI Indonesia believes that evidence-based research and data-driven decision-making is necessary to influence Indonesia’s public policy and promote sustainable development. However, Indonesia currently faces a huge deficit of researchers, and Indonesia’s research fund is only 0.09% of the APBN, which is the lowest in the world according to Mr. Bambang. And when there is funding from the government, Mr. Asmoro remarked that bureaucracy often hampers the process. Yet, researchers are needed to solve our nation’s most pressing issues.
For example, researches are needed to achieve universal electrification throughout the country without increasing GHG emissions; maintain accountable land use, and enforce sustainable land use practices.
Mr. Bambang elaborated on these issues, and discussed how it relates to his work at the DRN. At the DRN, Mr. Bambang explained “the focus of activities includes providing advice to ministers, monitoring the technology and helping the local research councils and making joint operations with them. [This] includes having the responsibility to publish the national research agenda.” Mr. Bambang has worked on getting electricity to the multitude of Indonesia’s small islands. In 2000, he brought a solar power plant to Pulau Penaah, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough for more than housing. Mr. Bambang mentioned China’s development of the world’s smallest nuclear power plant. “With this energy we could develop the cold storage and even the water treatment technology… Innovation has to go hand-in-hand with commercialization. Many countries already have Innovation Act and Innovation Council, but Indonesia currently does not have any. We have proposed the idea to bring those two things in Indonesia,” said Bambang.
When asked how research can turn into actual policy implementation, Mr. Koni responded that as part of the Wahana Riset program, there would be collaboration between a mentor and a young researcher as a way to “encourage intellectual activity to inspire the political dimension.” He also remarked that WRI has implemented a communication forum, which “can influence the direction on how politicians can make decisions for the welfare of the community.”
Mr. Yanuar, Chief of Staff at the president’s office, explained that working at the government, they measure how well they are doing “based on economic growth, inflation rate, inequality, poverty, and unemployment.” He emphasized the need to ensure one’s research will help the ministries in contributing to those five factors. After all, one of the aims of WRI’s research is to influence public policy-making for the betterment of the country and the earth. We are excited for the young researchers to join our battalion and to help us achieve this goal, one dataset at a time.