Australia-Indonesia Centre commits $2.1 million to collaborative research supporting Resilient Communities

If African communities can bypass the adoption of landline telephone technology by jumping straight to mobile phones, why can’t Indonesian communities and their city planners save decades of technology evolution by leapfrogging to world’s best urban water technology?

With this challenge in mind, the Australia-Indonesia Centre launches the Resilient Communities (Urban Water) research cluster ‘Developing leapfrogging pathways towards water sensitive cities’, committing AUD$2.1 million to collaborative research between the two countries.

With ever-increasing population shifts towards urban environments, it is crucial to make cities sustainable. Over the past five years, each of Indonesia’s 11 largest cities increased by about 300,000 people – a rural-to-urban shift that could soon approach Australia’s 85% urban populace.

The aim of the Resilient Communities (Urban Water) research cluster is to support the leapfrogging and mutual learning of Indonesian and Australian cities towards more resilient and liveable conditions through the rapid uptake of context-specific urban water practices. The initial cities to participate will be Surabaya and Melbourne, with the possibility of Jakarta to follow.

The research aims to:

  • Assess the water sensitivity of Indonesian cities and the social and institutional structures and processes that will create enabling conditions to leapfrog technology adoption.
  • Advance bio-filtration water treatment processes to enable efficient wastewater recycling and stormwater harvesting in urban agriculture.
  • Guide water-sensitive futures for Indonesian cities.
  • Create active learning alliances between universities, government, industry and community within and between Indonesia and Australia.

“In terms of involving young innovators, interdisciplinary science, local communities and smart technologies, this Cluster nails the innovation aspirations of the Turnbull and Jokowi governments,” stated AIC Research Director, Adjunct Professor Richard Price.

“This project builds on research conducted in Vanuatu which revealed the leapfrogging potential of showing alternative technological pathways for sustainable urban water solutions in developing contexts,” said cluster co-leader Professor Ana Deletic.

Cluster co-leader Professor Rebekah Brown observed: “Unlike mature developed countries, newly developed countries like Indonesia don’t have a century or more of formalised institutional arrangements locked in around water management. There is much greater scope for leapfrogging.”

Monash Sustainability Institute leads the cluster in partnership with Monash faculties of Engineering, Arts, Art Design and Architecture, and collaborating with researchers from Universitas Indonesia, Institut Pertanian Bogor and Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember. Researchers from the University of Melbourne, University of Sydney and the Australian National University will also be invited to participate.