Amid the 47th World Environment Day, water remains a conundrum for the environment

Untitled-1-min Photo by: Rachman/Bisnis.

This year, the world celebrates the 47th World Environment Day. A day where everyone encourages awareness and action for the preservation of the environment. Each year, the program has provided a theme and forum for businesses, non-government organizations, communities, governments to advocate environmental causes. As a natural resource widely available, water is still the most fundamental elements of the preservation of the environment. However, it is still a conundrum for the environment. If we manage water carefully with proper practice, water will be an invaluable resource that could play an important role to sustain the life of every individual. Ignore water at our perils, a disaster is all it could bring, be it in the forms of pollution, floods, or even drought.

We spoke with Mr Dhanang Wuriyandoko, a water expert from one of the most recognized private institutions on water, Royal HaskoningDHV, to discuss the role of water in the preservation of the environment. He explained an approach known as "Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)", an internationally recognized approach aiming to create an effective, equitable, and sustainable water resource management.

Multi-disciplinary Experts

In achieving a sustainable water system, integrated water resources management planning is needed, requiring the involvement of multiple disciplines and expertise.

Sometimes, the engagement of multi-disciplinary experts becomes a challenge in a project. However, this is considered as an interesting challenge for Dhanang, especially when he was given the task in Infrastructure Master Planning projects which is the planning of an area related to drainage, water supply, wastewater, solid waste management, road and electrical design.

"Multi-disciplinary expertise means involving many people, so sometimes you have to deal with different agenda, miscommunication, mismatched schedule, and so on. Even though they are interconnected with each other," said Dhanang.

Institutional Strengthening

Besides Infrastructure Master Planning, RHDHV had also been involved in a project for the Government that specifically put forward the IWRM approach: "Integrated Water Resources Management in Six River Basin Territories (6cis)." This project with a value of 4 million USD was carried out in 2010-2013, RHDHV assisted the Government in establishing water councils in six river basin territories including Citarum, Ciliwung-Cisadane, and Ciujung-Cidanau-Cidurian – thus the name 6Cis - to gain more effective control. The government selected these river areas based on national strategic planning, which is very important for Jakarta's future water supply, urban and industrial areas.

Photo by: Donny Iqbal/Mongabay Indonesia

In the solution to create IWRM in these 6 river basins, there were several outputs produced including training and training needs assessment, organizational benchmarking, capacity building and so on. Apart from institutional strengthening, another major component of this project is the integration of spatial planning and policy development.

Institutional strengthening also played an important role in one of the RHDHV projects, namely the "Urban Sanitation Development Program (USDP)." The program, which was initiated by the former Vice President Budiono, was divided into 2 volumes, namely USDP 1 in 2010-2015 and USDP 2 in 2015-2020 with one of the programs intended to eliminate floating toilets in South Kalimantan by improving sanitation and based on the governor's initiative.

Photo by: Dinas PUPR Banjar

Dhanang said that sustainability efforts were relatively carried out more by the public sector rather than the private sector. Nevertheless, various non-technical efforts need to be made to accomplish it. The results of planning that have been made must be carried out continuously by related parties.

"We don't want to create a Master Plan solely to be a nice book because basically, all derivative plans must refer to the Master Plan. But one of the big questions is how to make institutions refer to the Master Plan," said Dhanang.

According to him, one of many ways to make this happens is through institutional strengthening. RHDHV implemented it by institutionalizing the Master Plan into the local government system for this USDP project.

In addition, strengthening the political dimension is also very important in development projects. Therefore, Dhanang said that the advocacy sector is always present in every RHDHV project. Advocacy is not only concerning the community but also towards decision-makers who have access to resources.

Stakeholder Engagement

One of the most interesting recent projects for Dhanang is the RHDHV collaboration project with The Ocean Cleanup in the effort to remove plastic waste from the ocean. Besides water quantity issues, pollution of water sources is also a major problem for water users and to maintain natural ecosystems. One of the big pollutants to water nowadays is plastic waste and sadly, Indonesia is estimated to be the second-largest marine plastic polluters in the world. (Lebreton et al, 2017)

Photo by Ahmad Subaidi/ ANTARA

Based on data from the National Plastic Action Partnership, the volume of plastic waste in Indonesia in 2020 reached 6.8 million tons and grew by 5% every year. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia is committed to reduce waste by 30% and manage waste by 70% by 2025.

The collaboration project between RHDHV and The Ocean Cleanup is expected not only to deploy tools to collect plastic waste from the ocean but also to secure more integrated efforts. One example is by managing waste in the river before they enter the ocean. However, stakeholder involvement plays an important role in this regard.

"What we want is the waste that we take from the river will not only transfer the problem to the Landfill. Thus, for example, there should be the involvement of scavengers, existing waste processing facilities, and so on."

World Environment Day

Comprehensive planning and integrated management are essential in the water sector. Water as part of natural resources needs to be respected and strived to be sustainable hence it will not bring a negative impact on humans nor the environment in the future.

In celebrating World Environment Day this month, Dhanang expressed his concern on valuing the environment, he said "Actually, in my opinion, the concept is to respect the environment. We value water because we need water and it's an integral part of us."

Dhanang said that an integrated approach would help us to achieve a comprehensive environmental improvement, he continued, "It must be in the form of collective awareness from all communities and institutions so that we can experience genuine environmental protection efforts. If we talk about water resources management and not everyone does that, then the impact will not be felt. Only one or two people would perceive it."

"If we respect water management, then environmental protection will automatically be achieved," he concluded.

About the Speaker 

We speak to Mr Dhanang Tri W, Indonesia's Director for Water Advisory Group at Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV). In line with his Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Engineering from Bandung Institute of Technology, Dhanang holds a special interest in sanitation which later led him to the field of water. He joined RHDHV in 2009 and was involved in Aceh's reconstruction and rehabilitation program for the sanitation sector before entrusted with numerous water projects in Indonesia.

As Director for Water Advisory Group, Dhanang oversees 4 focuses, namely flood resilience, water technology (water supply and waste management), land reclamation and hydropower.

Written by: Keylin Vindyra, Carrina Lim and Rangga Rishar. (The Water Agency Indonesia)
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