Experiencing the Blue Carbon Bootcamp as an Early Career Professional

By Karizki Hadyanafi

When I found out about the IORA Blue Carbon Hub Early Career Visiting Professionals from a friend, I was keen to apply. I was looking for an opportunity to learn more deeply about blue carbon, which is an emerging topic globally, especially in Indonesia which proclaims the title of the “Amazon of the ocean”. I was particularly interested in finding out how carbon credits can serve as an alternative source of finance for blue carbon protection and restoration in Indonesia.

At first, I was unsure if my topic was suitable for the program as I read through the previous projects. However, looking at the call for application, it stated that the program allows not only science activities, but also blue carbon finance.

Mat, Lauren and Mark did very well in ensuring that the program went smoothly, from visa application up to departure from Perth, despite continuing disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. I enjoyed the two months very much, and I gained so much from it.

At the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, Perth, Australia

Research Project

My research project is a policy paper titled Identifying Challenges and Opportunities in Financing Blue Carbon Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration through Carbon Offsets in Indonesia. Since the issuance of a Presidential Regulation which sets a general rule for carbon economy in Indonesia, carbon credits have been a hot topic nationally. Despite controversy on the extent to which carbon credits mitigate climate change, the carbon market provides a much-needed alternative financing mechanism for ecosystem conservation and restoration. Indonesia with its high development ambition and plethora of natural climate solutions (including blue carbon) should benefit from it. I wanted to learn how carbon credits work and identify the challenges and opportunities to create an enabling environment for blue carbon credit activities to flourish in Indonesia.

Firstly, I aimed to look at how much blue carbon potential, particularly from mangroves and seagrasses, Indonesia actually has? To examine this issue, I looked at existing data and previous research, and had the chance to confirm those findings with the respective authors, including Indonesian researchers who are currently studying at the CSIRO campus.

Next, I tried to understand what the carbon market is, how it works, what its current state is, how blue carbon might fit within it and how much benefits Indonesia has received so far. To do so, I read various reports and connected with practitioners, including project developers and investors from private companies, both in Indonesia and Australia. I learnt valuable insights which gave me a different perspective to the one I had working for a regulatory agency.

I also assessed how blue carbon is currently managed in Indonesia, particularly in terms of governance. I also created a stakeholder map to identify who the main actors are for enabling blue carbon credits in Indonesia, so that future interventions and resources can be allocated efficiently. I read through several Indonesian regulatory products and articles to identify mandates and rights of several ministries and institutions to score its level of authority and interest, followed by discussion with various stakeholder across government institutions in Indonesia. Based on this scoring, I grouped the stakeholders into four categories: key player, keep informed, keep satisfied, and minimal effort.

Lastly, I wanted to learn from an established national carbon credit scheme. Australia has a carbon credit scheme which has been running since 2011 and this scheme has an approved methodology for blue carbon, and one of the experts involved in its development was just downstairs!

I have managed to generate several recommendations which I hope could be followed up by relevant Indonesian authorities. I hope my project can inform the Indonesian Blue Carbon Strategy Framework, which ultimately could coordinate Indonesian blue carbon management across stakeholders to achieve our national development goal.

Program Overview

The program itself is semi-structured. Participants have to plan a project and work independently to complete it. Such work pattern is a break from my daily routine as a bureaucrat which tasks are usually delegated to me on a daily basis. While the program allows us to work freely, approaching the end of the program a routine meeting was held to track progress of our project. Mat and I also agreed to have weekly meetings where we would discuss any roadblocks or issues. These meetings helped keep me on track of the project, because often after hours of reading, talking and writing I felt that I went astray from my planned direction, but when preparing for the meeting, I reflected on what I had learned, and the discussion help guide what to do next.

In this program, we are also expected to work with collaborators. The collaborator system I think is a great idea. It allows me to work with experts, and since my project requires a multidisciplinary perspective, I got to work with experts across various fields, including science, policy, and business. During the program we had many discussions, and we even held a mini webinar on global carbon market (thanks to Veda and Pollination team). In this occasion, I would like to thank Pak Mat, Pak Tony, Bu Frida, Bu Veda, Bimo, and Sandy, my collaborators who helped me to navigate the complexities of blue carbon and carbon market mechanism.

Mussa (my housemate) and I on our last day in Perth

I also learned a lot from Mussa, Mir, Tai, and Upal (fellow ECP participants) and Sundy (visiting the Hub from Mauritius) in our daily interactions and from their projects. Not only science stuff, but also culture and delicious foods, among others. We also interacted with CSIRO staff in occasional gatherings. They are very welcoming and keen to share their knowledge. We also had some events, including an ‘R’ data management workshop and Rotto trip which gave us a break from our projects.

A Quokka and I during our day trip to Rottnest Island, WA

I was lucky to meet Mbak Ayu, an Indonesian PhD student who introduced me to the Indonesian community in Perth (and gave me many blue carbon science insights) which provided me with a slice of home during my two months stay. The freedom of the program also enabled me to join some of their weekend events including Indonesia’s independence-day celebration at UWA campus ground.

All in all, the IORA Early Career Visiting Professionals program was an unforgettable experience for me. Settling in was comfortable, I learned a lot, gained many experiences and I got to know so many people. I am grateful to be part of the program, and I want to thank Mat, Mark, and Lauren and everyone involved in this program.

Karizki Hadyanafi

Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning

Follow Karizki on Twitter: https://twitter.com/karizki