A cohort of professionals focusing on marine pollution reduction from across Indonesia joined an Australia Awards in Indonesia pre-course workshop. The workshop is part of a Short Term Award ‘Tackling Marine Pollution Issues Through Recycling’, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and delivered by Griffith University.

At a time when environmental issues are in the spotlight globally, the participants will be enhancing their knowledge and gaining crucial insights to assist in effective policies, research and technological advancements, impacting marine pollution through recycling.

During the workshop the 25 awardees examined marine pollution in Indonesia and Australia in terms of the scale of the problem, policy settings, commercial activities and community responses to awareness-raising campaigns.

Course Leader, Associate Professor Sunil Herat said that marine pollution from plastic waste is one of the biggest problems facing many countries today and that he was excited to contribute his knowledge to the issue.

“I am very excited about this project as it allows me to assist the Indonesian government and public sector officials in developing better waste management plans to solve the problem in Indonesia, which is ranked second in the world in relation to marine pollution due to plastic waste,” he said.

Speaking at the pre course, he added, “for me, the main highlight was the enthusiasm and motivation of all the delegates who are all very passionate about making a contribution to solving the problem.”

A group photo of the awardees during the pre course in Indonesia

Short Term Award opportunities build valuable people-to-people links both within Australia and within the Indo-Pacific region, enabling mid-career professionals and emerging leaders to tap into Australian expertise, gaining valuable skills and knowledge.

There will also be several institutional visits throughout the course aimed at highlighting the work being undertaken in Australia across public, private and nonprofit organisations towards tackling waste and recycling to reduce marine pollution.

Some of the highlights include the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, Australian Marine Conservation Society, Brisbane City Council’s Resource Recovery Centre and Sustainability Victoria.

Course Co-leader, Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele said that she became involved in the course because it brings together talented and motivated Indonesian professionals in an effort to solve a complex issue.

“I am really looking forward to assisting the participants with the skills they need to change people’s behaviour as the Indonesian Government recognises that changing people’s behaviour remains the most important means to tackle plastic,” she said.

“Reducing the amount of plastics that are bought and used remains the key action that needs to be taken to combat plastics entering our waterways. Recycling cannot be an excuse to produce more plastics given that our systems are already unable to cope with the amount of plastics generated”.

“A highlight for me during the pre-course was the formation of a partnership to conduct a project between three different organisations (governments and NGOs) to measure the amount of waste in one community. By understanding the possible synergies and work needed, course participants are able to combine their expertise, which will deliver action at a larger scale than any level that could be achieved by any individual action alone.”

A group of the program awardees at the pre course where they were introduced to the key concepts of the program

During the two-week component in Australia, running from 2-13 September 2019, the participants will develop an understanding of a range of key concepts, including:

  • Fundamentals of marine pollution in Indonesia;
  • Laws, policies, regulations, and treaties to reduce or even prevent marine pollution;
  • Aligning participating organisations to tackle marine pollution;
  • Improved engagement, collaboration and business opportunities;
  • Existing recycling industry technologies in Indonesia and Australia;
  • Linking regulation to innovative, commercially viable technical solutions;
  • Progress of NGO’s, individuals, and organisations in reducing plastic pollution in Indonesia; and
  • Strategies to involve the private sector in finding solutions using circular economy principles.

Each participant will also be required to research and prepare an Award Project to be implemented upon their return to Indonesia. These projects are tailored to their work environments and will be supported by academic staff from Griffith University and inspired by the many recycling programs and activities implemented throughout Australia.