Witoelar Dialogue responds to the region’s climate change challenges

Mr Kosi Latu, Director-General, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, Professor Carolyn Evans, Vice Chancellor, Griffith University, Mr Patrick Suckling, Australian Ambassador for the Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Professor Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesian President's Special Envoy for Climate Change, Professor Caitlin Byrne, Director, Griffith Asia Institute, Uncle John Graham, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elder, Griffith University and Mrs Murni Titi Resdiana, Assistant, Office of the Indonesian President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Griffith Asia Institute has affirmed its commitment to strengthening regional expertise on sustainable development and climate change with the inaugural ‘Witoelar Dialogue’ event, held at South Bank earlier this month.

Themed ‘Deepening Regional Cooperation on Climate Change and Sustainable Development’, the Dialogue is part of the Collaborative Australia-Indonesia Program on Sustainable Development and Climate Change (CAIPSDCC), launched in November 2018.

CAIPSDCC is ledby Griffith University in partnership with theAustralia-Indonesia Institute, the Office of the Indonesian President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and the University of Indonesia’s Institute of Sustainable Earth and Resources.

Griffith University’s Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Carolyn Evans, gives the opening address at the Dialogue.

Officially opened by Griffith’s Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Carolyn Evans, the Dialogue brought together diplomats, policymakers, academics and influencers from Australia, Indonesia and the Pacific.

Participants included researchers from Griffith University, Universitas Indonesia, Hassnuin University, Australian state and federal government officials, Indonesian government officials representing the Office of the Indonesian President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and key government ministries, intergovernmental organisations representing the Pacific and Melanesia, and grassroots agencies working on sustainability initiatives within Indigenous Australian and local Indonesian communities.

“The Dialogue represents a unique opportunity to generate regional and interdisciplinary conversations about the challenges, risks and opportunities we face in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change, while also delivering on the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals,” Professor Evans said in her address.

“Promoting an environmentally sustainable society sits at the core of who we are.”

Participants of the informal discussions on Friday 8 March.

Conversations generated through the Dialogue focused on the regional implications of global climate diplomacy, the significance of local knowledge and traditional wisdom in building climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, the significance of non-state actors in advancing a sustainable future, and pathways for future collaboration and action in responding to the challenges of climate change across the region.

Australia’s Ambassador to the Environment, Mr Patrick Suckling,highlightedthe ‘great global victory’ of the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in getting the Paris rulebook together.

Mr Suckling spoke optimistically aboutthe prospects for Australia to enhance regional partnerships to pursue shared interests,especially regarding the 2015Paris Agreement.

Named after the Hon Professor Rachmat Witoelar, the Dialogue opened discussions on issues such as:

  • the significant role of non-state actors on the implementation of our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and in climate change governance;
  • updates from COP24 in Poland related to response measures and carbon market;
  • suggestions on joint research programs, seminars and student mobility programs;
  • the importance of local wisdom and traditional knowledge in enhancing community-based coastal management and climate action in Indonesia; and
  • the strategic role of local governments in accelerating climate actions and sustainable development on the ground.

“Climate change and sustainable development is an area where Indonesia and Australia have many shared interests,” Professor Witoelar said.

“We have a great deal to lose … [but] much to gain from an effective domestic and regional climate policy framework.”

The the two-day forum, which was held from 7-8 March, continued at the Griffith Climate Change Response Program, where participants discussed further multidisciplinary research collaborations and student mobility opportunities to enhance regional cooperation.

Discussions were focused on research collaboration related to advancing sustainable development and addressing climate change with particular reference to the small islands of eastern Indonesia.

For more photos of the event, please view our photo gallery.