Between the 17-18th of June, the AWP funded activity carried out by Charles Sturt University (CSU) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) ‘Modernising irrigated agriculture to protect and restore aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Indo-Pacific’ held its final high-level workshop with its in-country partner, Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).
Charles Sturt University has been working with BRIN and Indonesia’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing for the past three years developing a blueprint for sustainable river development that considers the needs of aquatic biodiversity in river basin infrastructure developments. The team focused on two case-studies protecting fish migration pathways in the Cibareno and Ciwulan Rivers.
With the building of new infrastructure to support agricultural cultivation and energy transitions, rivers are becoming increasingly fragmented, impacting the migration, breeding, and survival of aquatic biodiversity. In many countries, and especially in Southeast Asia, fish comprise the main animal-source protein. Consequently, ensuring biodiversity considerations are taken into account when designing river basin infrastructure is essential to food security and livelihoods.
CSU and FAO’s work in Indonesia has provided the government with a framework to enhance the policy, regulation, and management arrangements for river infrastructure to enable integration of aquatic biodiversity, fisheries and ecosystem services into planning and design.
The project’s outcomes have been strongly supported by the government of Indonesia. At the final workshop for the activity, Dr Alan F. Koropitan, Senior Maritime Advisor at Executive Office of the President, Republic of Indonesia noted that the Presidential Decree: No.1 Tahun 2023 – Mainstreaming Sustainable Biodiversity for Sustainable Development was being implemented to support policy and regulatory form in line with the project efforts. Participation and support at the highest levels of government signify a hallmark moment for both AWP’s work in Indonesia as well as Indonesia’s commitment to sustainable river development.
The Indonesian Department of Public Works has also shown enthusiastic support for the activity, specifically through the Blueprint for Sustainable River Development. The Department is currently re-writing the national irrigation standards, and for the first time the irrigation standards will include aquatic biodiversity considerations. Text from the blueprint is informing the structure of these national standards. This has been coupled with a national push to have aquatic biodiversity considered in as many projects as possible. The long term outcomes of this work will be healthier rivers and the establishment of sustainable irrigation systems with maintenance of aquatic biodiversity.