What is your role in the PIER project?
I’m the private finance consultant, focusing on the PIER project in Indonesia. I supported the country assessment for Indonesia, helped identify potential projects and, together with the project lead, developed a project implementation plan. I’m part of the on-the-ground team implementing the project, and I manage our relationships with local private partners.
What interested you about the project when you first heard about it?
I have experience working on climate mitigation projects, especially on the energy side. But PIER provides me an opportunity to work on climate adaptation projects, which are still quite rare in Indonesia. PIER also provides an opportunity of promoting climate resilience to the private sector, where the level of awareness is still quite low in Indonesia.
What are some of the challenges you’ve come across during the implementation of the project?
The private sector has a limited understanding of climate resilience, both at the institution/company level and at the individual farmer level. While members of the private sector are convinced of the importance of the issues, getting their focus and specific resources on the project has been quite challenging. Limited resources on the ground coupled with travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic have made for slow progress.
What does progress look like at the end of the PIER project in Indonesia?
There are two projects in Indonesia. One is in the coffee sector in northern Sumatra, which is progressing quite well despite some delays due to travel restrictions by the government; the other one is a solar pump project in East Java with slower progress. The solar pump project is intended to enhance farmers’ resilience during drought, which various studies have projected as worsening. But East Java is receiving a better rainfall compared to last year, which reduces farmers’ enthusiasm for solar pumps. Furthermore, East Java has now become the new epicenter of COVID-19 in Indonesia with cases increasing more than in Jakarta. It is difficult to rely on private partners for project implementation. Project modifications may be needed and the project may end up slightly different than it was originally planned.
How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will affect thinking around climate resilience, especially for the private sector in Indonesia?
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected various sectors in Indonesia. While the private sector understands the importance of climate resilience, the focus may shift, with more resources placed on handling the immediate impact of the pandemic, such as mitigating a decrease in sales brought on by closures due to the pandemic.
What policy changes regarding climate resilience in Indonesia would you like to see in the next five to ten years?
Climate resilience policy is in its infancy in Indonesia and still predominately in the public sector. In the next five years, I would like to see better policy with a clear road map of implementation for such critical sectors as agriculture. It is important that climate resilience be widely understood for all levels, from corporations to individual farmers. When there’s a deeper understanding of the importance of climate resilience and how to adapt to it, promoting private investment will be much easier.
Do you have any advice for young people in Indonesia who are hoping to work on climate change issues?
Work on climate change is still dominated by NGOs, Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) and the public sector. Young people should work with those institutions early in their climate change careers. With sufficient experience and knowledge gained from this work, young people can then diversify their skills if they choose by augmenting them with private-sector work.