From big cities to small islands, Australia-Indonesia research will deliver

Urban and small island communities facing major social and environmental challenges will be the first to benefit from close to half a million dollars of joint investment by The University of Queensland and Indonesia’s national research organisation, the Indonesia Institute of Science (LIPI).

In Jakarta this week, UQ and LIPI affirmed a three-year agreement for joint research that will address urban resilience and the sustainable development of small islands.

Investigators propose to research the contributions of governance and community networks towards resilience in three of Indonesia’s largest cities in Java: Jakarta, Surabaya and Semarang.

Java is one of the most densely populated islands in the world, and with a combined population of approximately 15 million, these cities face massive economic and environmental challenges.

The joint UQ-LIPI research ream will study and seek ways of improving the resilience of these cities, from human and built environment perspectives. 

Another research stream will address pressing sustainable development issues such as coastal management, conservation and risk reduction, for small and remote islands including Lombok and Ambon. 

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj, who held discussions in Jakarta with LIPI Chairman Professor Iskandar Zulkarnain and colleagues, said the UQ-LIPI partnership would contribute to broader relations between Australia and Indonesia.

“Partnerships based on the creation, sharing and application of knowledge, and the education and training of future research leaders, give added depth to the essential Australia-Indonesia relationship.

“UQ is honoured to lend expertise to critical undertakings by LIPI, the governmental authority on science and research in Indonesia, which is on track to have the world’s fifth largest economy by 2030, and already has over 140 million people living in urban areas.”

Professor Zulkarnain said UQ was one of LIPI’s major international partners, and this investment would give impetus to further collaborative research, and to growth in the expertise of Indonesia’s knowledge workforce.

“It provides a great opportunity to leverage joint collaborative research and build the capacity of LIPI’s young scientists through graduate level study and training at UQ,” Professor Zulkarnain said.

Annual research symposia and joint PhD training activities for UQ and LIPI scholars will be supported by the investment.

It marks a new stage in an existing relationship that includes involvement by both institutions in Catlin Seaview Survey and Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services (which is backed by the Global Environment Fund and World Bank).

It combines the strengths of two institutions that have expertise in research with direct applications to tropical communities and ecosystems, which cover some of the world’s fastest-growing zones of population.

The research is expected to contribute to international thinking on achieving resilience and sustainable development.

The teams will be multi-disciplinary, and include expertise in areas such as strategic business analysis, ecology, rural development, civil engineering, urban planning, anthropology, marine zoology, and ecology.

UQ was this month yet again confirmed as the leading Australian institution in the prestigious Nature Index, which is based on the quality and number of publications in 68 of the world’s leading science journals.

UQ’s long-term commitment to mutually-beneficial engagement with Indonesia stretches back over 50 years.

In 2014 UQ established an office in Jakarta, which has catalysed a pilot scheme of internships for UQ students seeking experience in Indonesia. LIPI is one of the partners that will offer internships to UQ students.

Professor Høj is leading a delegation of senior UQ staff to Malaysia and Indonesia this week.

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