Community-based dialogue from the bottom-up
The session was opened by China Programme Managers Joanna Klabisch and Christian Straube, who introduced Stiftung Asienhaus and the foundation’s civil society dialogue work with China. The round of participant introductions revealed a variety of different backgrounds and expertise. However, all grantee organisations share the approach to look at ‘China in Indonesia’ from a community level and in exchange with local communities affected by Chinese investment projects.
Leading up to the meeting was a digital mini-series on key terms around the BRI and how Chinese civil society representatives comprehend and work with terms such as Green BRI, High-Quality BRI and Digital BRI earlier this year. What are the opportunities and challenges for civil society when dealing with the official language describing the consequences of China’s infrastructure initiative, its local ramifications and risks for social and environmental justice?
At the centre of the session was the mutual introduction of the grantee organisations’ proposed fieldwork projects. The organisation Gudskul will take up the issue of plastic waste in Indonesia. Through course work and art collaboration, Gudskul wants to start a conversation between artists and environmental practitioners from Indonesia and China in order to find new perspectives on how we can think about plastic waste from our respective contexts.
Sarbi Indonesia Institute is going to do research on the Kayan River Hydropower Plant in Northern Kalimantan. The organisation will specifically address the transparency issues around the plant and its social and environmental impact. Sarbi’s findings shall serve as the basis for a multi-stakeholder dialogue including Chinese stakeholders, local communities and civil society representatives.
Walhi Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB), a regional chapter of Walhi, plans to work on the Mandalika Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the island of Lombok. The SEZ’s development has resulted for instance in local land issues. Walhi NTB will work on the SEZ’s current situation, its investment and financing background and how it impacts on local livelihoods. At the same time, the organisation wants to empower local communities through multi-stakeholder dialogues.
Finally, Hutan Rakyat Institute is going to continue its work on community inclusion in BRI projects in Indonesia. The organisation’s focus will lie on the opening up of more dialogue and consultation platforms for banks, investors, contractors, universities and civil society organisations, both from Indonesia and China. Field visits to communities whose livelihoods have been impacted on by the construction of the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Rail are also planned.
Open event series
As part of this project’s final stage open events for a Chinese-Indonesian civil society dialogue will be announced in the months to come. The China Programme of Stiftung Asienhaus would like to thank Bread for the World and the Ford Foundation’s Beijing Office for their unbroken support through the pandemic and challenges this project had to face.