By: Hizbullah Arief *
Climate Resilient and Inclusive Cities Working Group members welcomed special guests during the second climate mitigation training in Pangkalpinang. Three EUD “Jadi Juara Lingkungan” winners attended Climate Resilient and Inclusive Cities climate mitigation training, Wednesday, 22 November 2023.
They are Alya Zahra Sabira from Sukabumi, West Java, Afifah from Makassar, South Sulawesi and Devan Ahmad Pramudia, from Tanggamus, Lampung Province. “Jadi Juara Lingkungan” is a speech competition organized by EUPOP, a project funded by the European Union that is working to empower young generations to advocate for a better climate and environment.
These students are all in their 18-19. Reading their CVs impresses me. They are not only winning the EUD competition, but they have won many competitions and attended student exchange programs overseas.
Alya, for example, has joined a student exchange in Texas, United States. She received the Ashoka Youngchangemaker Award in 2023. Afifah, graduated from Gontor this year and has also attended student exchange in Japan. Devan is president in a local youth organisation and movement named Greenzinitiative in Bandar Lampung, while also having won many awards in storytelling and newscasting competitions.
Their knowledge and experience are beyond their young perpetuities. It was shown when we were having a conversation. Their individual qualities are perceived. Alya started her activism at a very young age after she experienced a natural disaster, her home was flooded. Afifah has started an environmental movement when she was still living in a boarding house in Gontor. At the same time, Devan worked with communities organising environmental campaigns in his hometown in Tanggamus, Lampung Province.
They left for Pangkalpinang Tuesday morning, 21 November 2023. Prior to departure, these young people were briefed to book window seats and prepare their smartphones at times before landing in Bandar Udara Depati Amir, the Pangkalpinang Airport. They received only one instruction, “Please record your surroundings prior to landing at the airport.”
At first, maybe they did not understand the purpose behind this instruction. The next day, Wednesday morning, they joined the opening of CRIC's second mitigation training for Pangkalpinang. As CRIC Regional Project Manager, I introduced them to all working group members and CCROM experts.
Knowing that it is essential for the three to understand more about CRIC project’s intervention, I arranged a separate meeting for them to help learn more about the local, national and global contexts of climate actions. My target was for them to have at least more comprehensive perspectives when discussing climate and environmental problems.
Their understanding of local, national, and even international context of climate change, including climate negotiation under the Paris Agreement, has exceeded my expectations. We then discussed the video recordings they took, before landing to Pangkalpinang Airport. Up from above their cameras captured conditions in the city and its surroundings.
Situated in the resource-abundant Bangka Belitung province, Pangkalpinang grapples with the paradox of natural wealth. Unfortunately, echoing patterns seen in other resource-rich regions, Pangkalpinang city bears the risk of environmental degradation caused by exploitation of Bangka Belitung province's abundant natural resources. It started with adopting open-pit tin mining practices, destroying Bangka Belitung’s watersheds and wreaking havoc on the province’s environment. From above, abandoned or still active open-pit tin mines are heavily visible, creating scattered big holes in the ground.
Pangkalpinang is one of the cities affected by this environmental degradation. This environmental degradation heavily impacts Pangkalpinang as a low-lying coastal city, with an example of its worst natural disaster in 2016 when its water sources inundated its areas. Multi-faceted aspects contributed to this disaster. For example, open-pit mining practices along its rivers, crossing and surrounding the city have increased sedimentation in the city's rivers, reducing their capacity to channel and contain waters, particularly during the rainy seasons.
The escalating impacts of climate change, marked by more extreme wet and dry weather patterns are worsening the situation. Therefore, CRIC Project is working with the city to increase the capacity of its stakeholders to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. This is done through organising climate change mitigation and adaptation training, which aims at helping the city develop local climate action plans in collaboration with IPB University’s climate change research center, CCROM.
The EUD winners visited the ground zero in Kampung Bintang, the lowest area in the City of Pangkalpinang on Wednesday evening to witness the impact of flooding. They also discovered other problems contributing to the ongoing environmental calamity, which is waste that were visibly clogging the waterways in the ground zero. Although the city government has created specific programmes to better manage their dirty excesses, such as initiating a waste bank and starting a working group (satgas/satuan tugas) named “Satgas Smile” to help collect wastes, these interventions are not enough.
After the ground-zero visit, the EUD winners also witnessed the built-up sedimentation in the rivers by visiting the retention areas where the sedimentation is collected and reduced by mechanical interventions.
On the second day on Thursday, Alya, Afifah and Devan enjoyed the Bangka Botanical Garden built on abandoned open-pit tin mines. The garden has become one of Pangkalpinang's eco-tourism spots and provided best practices and lessons learned in dealing with abandoned mining areas.
Bangka Botanical Garden has also become a green open space that regulates the city’s environment, becoming home to local biodiversity, water retention areas, providing clean air, and becoming sport and recreation spots for everyone who loves nature. In their last opportunity to enjoy the city, we visited Pangkalpinang KM 0 (Zero Kilometer). We witnessed the new tin-domed mosque or Masjid Agung Kubah Timah that is standing side by side with an equally iconic and beautiful GKPS church in Pangkalpinang.
It was an unforgettable and fun experience indeed as we were travelling at the same car and enjoying so much laughter, good stories, good coffees, singing together, and performing a carpool karaoke along the way.
Personally, this experience has also given me new hopes for future generations. From the EUD winners, I learned that to produce long-lasting solutions, community participation is a must. Back home, Alya, Afifah, and Devan are all working with communities to empower them to become part of the solution and not part of the problem. Their experiences have strengthened the lessons I learned from this visit.
One thing that I can say is that I wish you all, Alya, Afifah and Devan to stay humble and stay foolish. You will always have fun in doing everything you love. You will inspire many young people around you and achieve a great future. Thank you for the campaigns. Please stay in touch!
* Hizbullah Arief is Regional Project Manager of Climate Resilient and Inclusive Cities (CRIC). This article is his personal views.