Following on the heels of the very successful inaugural Congress of Indonesian Diaspora held in Los Angeles during July 2012, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Washington, D.C. will organize the 2nd Congress of Indonesia Diaspora to be held in the Jakarta Convention Center from August 18-20, 2013. This year’s congress theme “Pulang Kampung” or “Home-Coming” will invite not only current leaders, but also the youth and leaders of the next generation back home to Indonesia to harness their strengths and training for the betterment and improvement of Indonesia, and for the benefit of its people.
Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya, is home to 3 million inhabitants as well
as a phenomenally successful composting program. This program was launched ten
years ago to combat an ever increasing amount of organic waste produced in the
city. Not only has it reduced the city’s organic waste by 30%, it has also created an
environmentally sustainable and natural fertilizer for the city’s many parks. The
money saved by this program has allowed the city to employ local people with a
number of jobs in the many composting facilities, providing them with not only an
income – but also a sense of pride in what they are doing for their city and their
environment. Hopefully Surabaya’s success will provide not only the rest of
Indonesia with a model of urban sustainability, but also other nations who can
look to this city as a system to emulate.
Business enterprises in Indonesia have traditional been dominated by sectors including mining and agriculture, due to the abundance of natural resources throughout the country. However, recent announcements by government ministers, including the Minister of Research and Technology, Dr. Gusti Muhammad Hatta, suggest that Indonesia may soon be headed in a new direction: encouraging small business growth.
Possibilities for Sustainable Energy & Engineering in Indonesia
A unique event took place this evening in the Lamont Forum Room at Harvard University: the Harvard College Engineers Without Borders (HCEWB) chapter, co-sponsored by the Harvard Asia Center, invited Leonardo Stoute to speak to the group regarding the opportunities and challenges for sustainable energy and development projects in Indonesia. Mr. Stoute, with his background in business and proven record of high respect for Indonesian culture and strong connections with its people, has been traveling extensively to the region for years, embarking on efforts to give back and improve the local communities wherever possible. While tremendous efforts are needed, enormous potential exists for establishing sustainable infrastructure for clean water, sanitation, energy generation, and power distribution efforts.
The needs in Indonesia dovetail with the strengths of the HCEWB. An urgent need for many rural Indonesian communities is access to clean water; for several years, HCEWB has been traveling to the Dominican Republic, to establish and maintain water purification systems for underserved communities in rural areas. Mr. Stoute thanked the EWB for their efforts, and assured them their good intentions do not go unnoticed, even overseas. Traveling has given him a unique perspective on connecting with people of different cultures and backgrounds. From that perspective, he stated that travel is vital to real education and understanding.
Links to Presentation Materials
When asked how he deals with the diversity of cultural backgrounds to be encountered in Indonesia, Mr. Stoute replied simply, “with an open heart, an open mind, and listening.” The importance of adab and adat, the Indonesian equivalent of manners and etiquette, is paramount in Indonesia. Over there, community elders, or datung, play an important role in provincial governments.
Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies, is comprised of nearly 18,000 islands, and hundreds of different ethnic and cultural groups. This country is renowned for its rich natural resources, and its economy is one of the fastest growing in the entire world. The people are industrious, and there are many opportunities for entrepreneurship and business development. The decentralization of the government allows localities to play a large role in their own affairs. However, the national infrastructure is inadequate in many places and leads to problems including lack of access to clean drinking water for much of the population. Chronic rolling electrical blackouts are another serious concern, even in areas surrounding the capital, Jakarta. But the resilience and generosity of the Indonesian people only adds to the promise that the country’s abundance of natural resources can provide for a sustainable future. Mr. Stoute has on many occasions found Indonesians to be the type of people who “will share with you even what they don’t have.” He advised the HCEWB students present to strengthen their commitment, even in small ways, to helping those less fortunate, wherever they are.
“You are the youth, the future,” he encouraged them, “giving a possible future to others.”
During his visit to Harvard University, Leonardo Stoute met with Holly Angell, the Associate Director of the Harvard University Asia Center, who had co-sponsored his talk for the Harvard College Engineers Without Borders Chapter, held on October 21. The two connected on a number of levels, most notably their passion for sharing the beauties of Asian cultures with students here in the United States. Mr. Stoute presented Ms. Angell with material from the HCEWB meeting, as well as a current portfolio of cultural events and activities from both universities here in the States as well as those in Indonesia. Ms. Angell was grateful to hear of his successes in bringing the pusaka, or baraka, blessing, of traditional Indonesian arts, music and dance to students at universities like Harvard and Yale. Mr. Stoute thanked her for her support and that of the Harvard Asia Center, and the two discussed possibilities for future events and activities.
Additional documents from the visit:
Harvard University Engineers Without Borders Invites Leonardo Stoute to Discuss Sustainability Projects in Indonesia
April 27th, 2012 | Cambridge, MA
Today, at Harvard University, the board members of the university’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter invited Leonardo Stoute, LSI Group CEO, to discuss Sustainability Projects in Indonesia and around the world.
EWB is a global non-profit organization that seeks to aid communities in the developing world via providing technical assistance on projects that improve their quality of life and the public good.
Mr. Stoute had just returned from an extended tour of Indonesia and the South East Asia region. During the trip he continued to promote and lecture on the principles sustainable development. Throughout the region, community leaders and decision makers invited him to consult and assist with various plans and projects based on those same fundamentals.
Today’s meeting was an opportunity for the Harvard students to learn from Mr. Stoute and discuss the nature of project opportunities in Indonesia. He explained that there are many opportunities to help people and see real results quickly all throughout the country. Devastating natural disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami and massive earthquakes in recent years have left much of the country’s infrastructure weakened and still in need of repair. Across the archipelago of over 17,800 islands, many Indonesians live without the necessities of life that we in the West take for granted. Poor drinking water carries sicknesses and unreliable electric power leaves thousands in the dark on a daily basis.
The people of the region are resolute and hard-working, even in the face of adversity. Academics and scientists among them have already studied the land and the issues, and they are eager to learn best practices and technological solutions. Community leaders are poised to implement projects right away, and major benefits can be realized quickly. If one approaches the people with respect and sincerity, you will be welcomed and find that the communities are poised to receive and participate right away.
Mr. Stoute encouraged the students to add Indonesia to their scope, and he pledged his assistance to make their efforts in that region a success.
The EWB board members shared their current efforts and their future plans. The group is wrapping up a four-year water purification project in the Dominican Republic. The work involved surveying and assessment, technical assistance, and even financial planning. They are looking to initiate another similar project in nearby Tobago soon. By the end of the meeting, they all expressed their interest in pursuing a project in Indonesia with Mr. Stoute’s help and guidance. Everyone agreed to stay in touch and follow up with one another.
We look forward to reporting on further developments in this endeavor in the near future.
The past year ended on a strong note for Indonesia as Fitch Ratings raised Indonesia’s sovereign credit rating to investment grade for the first time in more than a decade. This move expected to trigger more investment in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
At the same time, Indonesia faces a challenge in the need to improve the nation’s infrastructure. Transportation within the country is associated with high costs and low reliability. Investment in this key area would go a long way toward improving the economy as well as the quality of life for all Indonesians.
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