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Locally-led climate solutions lead the way in Indonesia

Climate change is first and most intensely felt by communities that are socially, economically and politically marginalized. Already less resilient, they are more vulnerable to climate-related shocks and are the least able to adapt. The fact that the climate crisis doesn’t affect everyone equally or in the same way makes its impacts very local. This means that climate (adaptation) action has to be local, too.

"In Indonesia, a country prone to extreme weather events and rising sea levels, local climate action is happening everywhere."

Local climate solutions are more effective for a number of reasons. They are more tailored to the local context and harness the innovation capacity and (traditional) knowledge of local communities. They better integrate socio-economic development with climate benefits, and - most crucially – they allow local communities to have ownership over the solutions. Local ownership and local communities’ participation in shaping and leading climate solutions greatly increases the chances of success of those solutions.

What do these local solutions look like?

Local climate solutions take many different forms. Like modifying agriculture practices in response to unpredictable weather patterns, more frequent droughts or heavier rainfall, or planting mangroves that protect coastlines against sea level rising, and even campaigns against littering on beaches to protect coral reefs and other marine life.

In Indonesia, a country prone to extreme weather events and rising sea levels, local climate action is happening everywhere. Youth movements, women’s groups, indigenous and other leaders, are all tirelessly defending their coastlines and forests, diversifying their sources of food, and protecting livelihoods to safeguard their future - and nature’s. They are the ones on the frontlines of climate change and climate action, restoring the balance between people and nature. We’d like you to meet some of them.

Estakius Rafael Suban

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Protecting the sea shore and marine life

Estakius Rafael Suban is the chief of Dikesare Village on Lembata Island in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. His region is now affected by long and unpredictable dry spells that cause crop failure, while illegal fish bombing is destroying the coral reefs. His community practices “Muro,” a traditional way of protecting marine life by preventing overfishing to maintain food supplies in times of crisis. The community also plants mangroves, implements reforestation projects, and builds artificial coral reefs. This way, they bolster their resilience to climate disasters while also keeping their traditional culture alive. 

Campaigning for behavioral change

In Kupang, also in East Nusa Tenggara, storms and shifting rainy seasons are having a negative impact on agriculture. But the community, especially its young people, have realized that their traditional agricultural practices can have a negative impact on climate change as well. In particular, by using traditional ways of keeping cattle and cutting trees for land use. They have started up a project called Imut Motorbike Gang (Geng Motor iMuT). In the video, Yuliana Weni Duan explains how their campaigns educate, raise awareness, and change people’s behavior to try and achieve a low carbon and resilient future.

Tobias Lewotobi Puka

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Reintroducing local food sources

Here is another example of local climate action, presented by farmer and traditional leader Tobias Lewotobi Puka, and Agatha Kola, who belongs to the sorghum cooperative. In the video they explain how droughts have threatened their food security and health. This has led them to rediscover more diverse local food sources, like sorghum. Their community used to eat sorghum, but switched to rice a few decades ago. Now they are reintroducing it into their diets to increase food security. And the community is also planting trees to reduce the risk of landslides after heavy rainfalls.

Guardians of critical ecosystems

Consisting of over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. In East Nusa Tenggara, local community members, especially women, have become the guardians of their precious sea shore ecosystem. They try to protect the coast’s vast biodiversity from being destroyed by pollution and construction projects, while campaigning for measures that mitigate the effects of climate change. In this video, Adelfina Pinga, a fisher woman, explains how she and the other women in her community organize beach clean-ups, campaign against littering, and advocate against the construction of concrete buildings and roads along the coastline.

Achieving real and lasting change

Local ownership has always been in Hivos’ DNA; it’s also one of our key strategies. Hivos supports the people and communities most affected by climate change and enables effective climate action at local levels. We build broad societal support for local solutions and stimulate action by people with diverse perspectives and alternative approaches, like the engaged community members of East Nusa Tenggara.

Our program Voices for Just Climate Action presents a fair, just and solution-oriented agenda that integrates social and economic rights into climate action. Together with alliance partners and local civil society organizations, it creates a democratic playing field and amplifies inventive local solutions to achieve broader development goals.

By doing this, we shift ownership to local civil society and support them in movement building, being heard at the global level, and challenging power balances. Investment in local climate solutions led by priority rightsholder groups is crucial to achieve any real and lasting change.