Getting to the bottom of policymaking

04 August 2020

Having finished the Master of Environmental Management and Development and returned to Indonesia, Crawford graduate Wiraditma Prananta has been making good use of his time quarantining at home to work on a research project on biofuel in Indonesia, which he’s hoping to co-publish with Crawford lecturers.

After Wiraditma finished his undergraduate in international relations, he was straight away looking to learn more about policymaking, with a special focus on the environment.

When he attended the Australian Study Fair in his city, he was excited about enrolling on a course from Crawford School.

“Having done international relations, I had learned about top-down policy, but through my master I wanted to understand more about how to make policy from the bottom, and build it from the ground up. Working with local communities was also really something I wanted to know more about.

“Right after I finished my undergraduate studies, I visited the Australian Study Fair in Bandung and I went straight to the ANU table. I still remember meeting Liz Ingram. I told her what I wanted to study environmental policy, and she introduced me to Crawford School and the program. I directly applied to the program right at the fair. She was really convincing!”

Supported by a grant from the Indonesian government, Wiraditma still vividly remembers arriving in Canberra and settling in at one of the ANU residential halls.

“When I first came to Canberra, everyone was so welcoming, but I came here in winter and I was so shocked by how cold it was. I was accepted into the ANU residential hall, and I could finally access a heater. Not only the heater, but being welcomed by and interacting with all the other international students also warmed my heart,” he said.

Before coming to Crawford School, Wiraditma was a researcher in the sustainable land-use area and worked with Indigenous Indonesians that live in the conservation areas.

His job formed the base of his interest in forestry and land-use issues during his study. It also inspired him to take up a research project with Crawford lecturers Professor Robert Costanza, Dr Ida Kubiszewski and Dr Rebecca Colvin, and they’re now working together on publishing the results.

“I was really lucky to work in this area - I’m currently looking for a similar job that deals with sustainability and land management.

“My job inspired me to be more specific about my research into forestry and land use, and look at the sustainability of palm oil biofuel in Indonesia and its impact on forestry. I wanted to find out how sustainable it really is from an energy and land management perspective, because there are critical voices about this.

“My supervisors really encouraged me to do this, and now we’re even planning on publishing it. So, whilst I was quarantining at home, I was working on this paper that will assess Indonesia’s future renewable energy plan, and provide a meta-analysis of biofuel energy return on Investment.”

Getting back to Indonesia wasn’t easy, with Wiraditma having to jump through numerous hoops to get the all clear to return to his home country.

“To come back to Indonesia, I had to get a travel clearance and a negative COVID-19 test. It didn’t really hurt, but it was quite uncomfortable.”

Wiraditma is looking forward to returning to Canberra – maybe for a PhD – but definitely for the formal graduation ceremony.

“I might want to do a PhD in the future, but I think I want to get a few years of working experience first to find my niche.

“I’m looking forward to attending the graduation ceremony once it’s safe. This will be my excuse to come back to Canberra!”

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