Protecting coastal communities in Indonesia – An interview with Hari Kushardanto

"Rare Quotes" features leaders from across Rare putting the work into their own words.

April 3, 2024

In this video, Hari Kushardanto, Senior Director of Fish Forever in Indonesia, discusses coastal communities’ dependence on healthy waters, challenges to applying behavioral insights to the marine conservation sector, and Rare’s engagement strategies for conservation in Indonesia.

Full transcript

What do healthy coastal waters mean to Indonesia’s coastal communities?

Healthy coastal waters for the people means that they can catch fish every day, the same volume, the same type of fish, and also it means that they still can live in the area or the village they live.

What is something people probably don’t know about these coastal communities?

If we tell them that you have to save something for the future, it is not in their mindset. They have knowledge, but somehow because they also live in a difficult situation, they have to decide whether to live in sustainable way or whether to live for today.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in accomplishing your work?

Number one, it comes to the economy. People need something to eat. Secondly, we are trying to change the behavior not only one particular individual, but the whole communities. We have to change so many groups of people. We have to change the government, we have to change the buyers, we have to change the teachers, we have to change the religious leaders, and so on and so on. It is sometimes not easy because conservations you will not see the benefit in a couple of days. You will not see the benefit in a couple of weeks. You will see the benefit maybe in a year, or maybe even longer than than a year.

How does Rare, through Fish Forever, engage people?

We listen to the problem, we come to the communities as friend, not as someone who knows everything. Basically, we try to understand the situation from the lines of our local communities. We also try to use the mindset that they normally, or they usually, use. It is very important because then we understand why they have that mindset.

What does climate change look like for Indonesia’s coastal communities?

In the community, in Southeast Sulawesi for example, they said that every month that end with ber, like the October, November, December is actually a wet month, but now they cannot predict the wet months The consequences because they cannot boat out to fish, the catch also will decrease sometimes with the sea level rise. They also have to protect the family, the house from the sea level rise, sometimes with the heavy rain they have also to protect the family from storm and heavy rains.

What gives you hope?

If we come to a new site, a new communities, we still find local champions. Sometimes they don’t have hope and they don’t even brave to dream. And when we come to the community, we try to convince them that you still have hope, and we are facilitating them to achieve that hope or to build the hope that they dream of.