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Australian Foreign Minister tours RISE demonstration site, signalling commitment with Indonesia on climate

14 June 2022

In June, RISE Indonesia hosted the Honourable Penny Wong, Australia's new Foreign Minister, in the village of Batua – to see the RISE program’s demonstration site.

Ms Wong’s visit was part of the Australian Prime Minister's delegation to Indonesia, where Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with leaders in Jakarta and Makassar, pledging stronger cooperation on climate change and trade.

Minister Wong met with community members and walked through the revitalised settlement to see how climate-adaptive and -resilient systems are addressing the community’s needs and vulnerabilities.

The infrastructure at Batua includes a raised pathway to increase community resilience to flooding, rainwater harvesting systems, and a nature-based wastewater treatment system consisting of a pressure sewer system, communal septic tank and constructed wetlands, all integrated into the community environment through a participatory co-design process.

RISE’s sustainable nature-based treatment system makes it possible to deliver sanitation to communities located in areas that are difficult to reach by traditional municipal trunk infrastructure. The RISE sanitation system is also sustainable – as an on-site decentralised nature-based treatment solution, the system can operate with much lower energy costs, carbon emissions and ongoing maintenance requirements compared with traditional approaches.

RISE’s ‘water-sensitive cities’ approach delivers sanitation, clean water and climate resilience
in areas that have been very difficult to reach by conventional infrastructure.

Australian industry is a vital partner in RISE’s vision to enhance climate resilience in the region. RISE’s infrastructure is founded around smart pressure sewer technology developed and supplied by Melbourne-based South East Water subsidiary, iota. RISE has shown that this ‘smart’ technology and the real-time monitoring it provides can be applied far beyond its Melbourne origins to change the lives of urban informal settlement communities across the Indo-Pacific region.

As a core RISE partner, the Australian Government also sees the strong potential for this unique approach to improve living conditions for billions of people. Australia has committed AU$4 million to revitalise the next group of informal settlements in Makassar taking part in RISE through the Indonesia Australia Partnership for Infrastructure (KIAT).

The challenges of managing water are not new to the Foreign Minister. ‘I was once Minister for Water,’ she told RISE Indonesia colleagues as they walked and talked along Batua’s pathways. Minister Wong’s genuine interest in how the infrastructure is practically serving residents and schoolchildren was evident as she stopped to meet and speak with residents.

The homes at Batua are just the start of more than 300 households in Makassar that will be part of the next wave of water-sensitive upgrades, transforming human and environmental health in informal settlements.

Having met and spoken with Batua residents as the first beneficiaries of RISE upgrades, Minister Wong has now seen first-hand how the program’s water-sensitive approach can address the needs of informal communities and driving impact and change.

‘The Albanese Government is committed to expanding our cooperation with Indonesia on climate change action and resilience – projects like this show the incredible impact we can have when we work together,’ she said.

A welcome visit.