West Java Government, Monash University, Universitas Indonesia partner to restore Citarum River

The Provincial Government of Indonesia’s West Java has signed a Letter of Intent with AIC Principal Partner Monash University to collaborate on developing new solutions to restore one of the most polluted rivers in the world, the Citarum River.


The Australia Indonesia Centre is delighted at this announcement as it follows on from the work of one of its earliest collaborative research efforts and a relationship built with provincial leaders.

AIC Urban Water alumni Professor Diego Ramirez-Lovering and Dr Jane Holden will co-lead The Citarum Project alongside Monash University Professors Rob Raven and Tony Wong. AIC Senior Fellow Dr Reni Suwarso will act as the Head of Citarum Research Social Team at Universitas Indonesia.

According to Professor Ramirez-Lovering the goal is to use urban design to embed sustainable solutions.

“What is needed is a holistic approach that addresses environmental quality and ecological health that brings health and prosperity to communities – particularly those most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation,” he said.

“The ability to access and benefit from sufficient safe and reliable water has significant consequences for human health and wellbeing, the economy and environment,” added Dr Suwarso, speaking to the importance of the project.

The Monash project will work with AIC Principal Partner Universitas Indonesia alongside additional Indonesian researchers and government agencies to share knowledge, data and co-develop social and technological solutions.

West Java Governor H.E. Ridwan Kamil, signed the Letter of Intent on behalf of the Provincial Government in a ceremony held on 22 July.

Photo: Monash University Citarum Project

“The collaboration with Monash University is one of our strategic collaborations on the acceleration of pollution and damage control in the Citarum Watershed, which is in line with Presidential Regulation Number 15 in the Year 2018,” he said.

“This is a penta-helix collaboration with Monash University, especially as we are collaborating with universities across the country. We are very delighted that Monash University will be involved in formulating the concept of the revitalisation of the Citarik Watershed, which will become a showcase of the successful handling of damage and pollution control in the Citarum Watershed.”

The West Java Government, Monash University, Universitas Indonesia and AIC Principal Partner IPB University first collaborated in 2018 with the aim of contributing new ideas to support Kamil’s Citarum Harum, a multi-year restoration program focused on the river.

“We have an active target… which entails creating a Clean Citarum Watershed by raising public awareness of the watershed’s cleanliness,” Governor Kamil said of the Citarum Harum, “so it can be used for ecotourism, which can ultimately increase people’s income and well-being.”

The group also discussed the exploration of further opportunities to scale up the regions Water Sensitive City approach fuelled by the AIC’s Urban Water research. The research program, conducted between 2014 and 2018, provided a detailed understanding of West Java’s Bogor City and Bogor Regency water systems and explored the region’s potential to leapfrog to a water-sensitive future through socio-political and biophysical pathways, something that aligned with Governor Kamil’s own aspirations.

“As an architect, I hope to develop a better urban design system to improve things, for rivers to become a celebrated public space and for community mindsets to be changed,” the governor said back in 2018 during a visit to Melbourne.

Bapak Ridwan Kamil shakes hands with AIC Indonesia Director Kevin Evans back in 2018. (Credit: Humas/Jabar)

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Global Engagement) at Monash University, Professor Abid Khan, signed the Letter of Intent on behalf of his institution.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, access to clean water and surrounding environments is critical for community health and well-being,” Professor Khan said.

“Monash’s transdisciplinary research experience in social and environmental transformation, fused with commitment from our Indonesian government and academic partners will enable us to tackle significant sustainable development challenges. Together we will develop innovative solutions that can lead to millions living healthier, safer and more productive lives.”

For more information on the Citarum Program, head here.

Photo at top: DOK. Humas Pemerintah Provinsi Jawa Barat

Picture of Steve Wright

Digital Communications Coordinator
The Australia-Indonesia Centre

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