Posted by: Nandang Sutrisno S.H., M.H., LLM., Ph.D. | 15th Jan, 2013



Dr. Nandang Sutrisno

(Vice Rector for Academic Affairs)

Keynote Speech

The International training programme: Local Environment Management in Urban Areas, hel by Faculty of Law Islamic University of Indonesia in cooperation with Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA, and Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU), 7-18 January 2012.


Urban areas have been one of main contributors to environmental problems faced by inhabitants of most countries on earth. Common Environmental Problems in Urban Areas are those of resources, processes, and effects related to natural environments, built environments, and socio-economic environments. In Yogyakarta, for example, urban areas have been main contributor to air pollution, causing the increase of micro climate, especially the weather. This is mainly caused by the growth of transportation vehicle, which is uncontrollable. There are about 6,000 new vehicles every month (?). Another main cause the growth of urban areas, reducing green open space. In accordance with Law No. 26 of 2007, there must be at least 30 % of green open space from the total areas (20% for public, 10% for private). In general, the green open spaces for private areas has been met, that is 7622 ha or 43,36%, but not for public, which is only 11,8%. Led by urbanization, parallel with the development of urban areas for housing, for example, this figure is potential to be more reduced. Land conversion is 0,42% each year.

This further leads to another problem, the scarcity of water. Aquifer in Yogyakarta cities is relatively good, but the fast growth of urban areas creates an ironical situation, flooding in rainy season, and drought in dry season.

Another serious problem faced by urban areas in Yogyakarta is trash dumping which is very difficult to handle. Total garbage generation in 2011 in Yogyakarta was 127,750 ton/year: 68% from Yogyakarta City, 22% from Sleman; 4% from bantul, and the rest was from Gunung Kidul and Kulonprogo. The trash dumping can only be able to operate until the end of 2012, and it is not easy to find another place for trash dumping.

The problems mentioned above needs to be resolved by, among other things, an effective urban environmental management. As Aldo Leopold stated, "Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. The goal of environmental management is to create and maintain this harmony. It is an interdisciplinary practice that seeks to balance economic and social needs with the needs of the environment and its flora and fauna.” (

There are various approaches to the urban environmental management in order to be effective, including, among others, the Resources Management Act, Effect-Based Assessment; Principle and Policy-based Environmental Management; and Subsidiarity ( However, without undermining other approaches, this speech would like to recommend another approach, a Cultural Approach, which seems to be more effective, especially for urban areas in Yogyakarta Special Province (YSP). This is also because the YSP puts Culture as a central component of governmental and social system.

Cultural Approach to Urban Environmental Management

As mentioned that there have been some approaches recognized to environmental management, among others being Resource Management Act; Effect-Based Assessment; Principle and Policy-based Environmental Management; and Subsidiarity ( These approaches have been frequently mentioned as references for environmental management, including for those in urban areas.

Cultural approach has not been frequently mentioned, but this should be implemented in YSP, and also recommended to be used in other regions and other countries. Therefore, Cultural approach should be considered for several reasons. First, this approach does not undermine other approaches, in the sense that Cultural approach may be used subsequently with other approaches. For examples, like the RMA approach, Cultural approach also considers sustainable management and integrated management as the ways to balance environmental protection and social-economic development.

Another example, even though the “effects-based” approach more focuses on the effects of activities, Cultural approach has the same way as the “effect-based” approach to make environmental management more effective by improving quality of decision-making at local and regional sphere.

Finally, like in Subsidiarity approach, Cultural approach also decentralized decision making to local and regional level, and even to local people and community, because it is considered to be the best way for those who are closest to the resources affected. Despite not to undermine other approaches, Cultural approach has different emphasis compared to the others. While the other approaches seem to be technical, Cultural approach is more substantial.

Second, another reason why the Cultural approach is recommended lies on the effectiveness of environmental management, due to the potential that this approach may shift environmental management from a government-dominated approach towards a socially-driven approach. The latter is important based on the reason that it will create social capacities, significant to the effectiveness of environmental management, instead of solely relying on strict and well-designed policy. Japan is a country which has relatively been effective in environmental management due to, in part the use of Cultural approach (Yong Ren, 2000). The Cultural approach empowers society “to shape the motives, perception and political choices of power-holders as well as of ordinary people, and thereby affect or determine a society’s macro-behavior.” (Broadbent 1998, 27 in Yong Ren, 2000).

Finally, the Cultural approach also enables society to be innovative because this will make the society to participate actively and to think creatively (Valerie Beach-Horne & Joan Ryan, In such a condition, the society, in turn, may create systems of knowledge related to environmental management, because they have been familiar about the environment and the way to manipulate them for their interests. to best meet their needs (Barum Gurung,

These Cultural approach elaborated above is also compatible with the New Environmentalism, putting local people at the center of environmental strategies. One of the ten principles of the New Environmentalism is Principle 7: involve citizens thoroughly. This principle recommends that local citizens be involved in order to address environmental problems effectively ( The reasons are as follow:

1. local citizens are often better able than governments to identify the priorities for action.

2. members of local communities often know about cost-effective solutions that are not available to governments.

3. the motivation and commitment of communities are often what sees an environmental project through to its completion.

4. it helps build constituencies for change as a counterweight to vested interests. (

Cultural Approach to Urban Environmental Management in Yogyakarta

Based on Law Number 13 of 2012 on Yogyakarta Special Province, Yogyakarta (YSP) has been formally strengthened as a special province, characterized by five aspects, well-known as Five Pillars:

1. Recruitment procedures of Governor and Vice Governor.

2. Institution.

3. Culture.

4. Lands.

5. Spatial.

These Pillars, especially Pillars 3, 4 and 5 has been closely related, directly or indirectly, to environmental management. One of regulation policies related to the Pillar 3 on Culture, is global aspect, one of the contents being non-exploitation attitude on environment. Another aspect of the Pillar 3, which is specifically related to environmental aspect, consists of:

1. Behavior related to limited environment.

2. Identification of local wisdoms related to environment.

3. Creation of cultural-environmental management guidance.

Pillar 4 on Lands, regulates administrative aspects of lands, such as land registration, transfer of land ownership, mortgage, etc.

Pillar 5, Spatial, is proposed to create sustainable development, spatial management authorities, regulation and the use, manage, and control of spatial room, rights and obligation of people, and dispute settlement and investigation.

Based on these pillars, YSP sets up new Vision, Mission, and Basic Values, that are also very relevant to environmental management aspects.

Long term Vision of YSP, also known as Renaisans Yogyakarta, is to develop a new excellence civilization creating ‘perfect human being’ (jalma kang utama), based on God spirit, humanity and justice, relying on basic capital of ‘culture and education.’

This vision is elaborated in Mission of YSP 2012-2017, one of them being related to environment management, as follows: “Developing infrastructure and facilities of region in order to improve public services, taking into account of environmental sustainability and spatial management.”

Further, all of the vision and mission of YSP are supported by seven basic values of YSP, most of them being highly relevant to environmental management. The first basic value is “hamemayu hayuning bawana” which means that human being must manage their attitude and behavior to keep balance and harmony in their relation with one each other, with God and with nature.

The second value is “sangkan paraning dumadi”, meaning that God is the cause of everything and is the place to return of everything.

The third value is “manunggaling kawula gusti” which means that a leader must integrate with people and be a symbol of spatial management.

The fourth value is “tahta untuk rakyat” showing that a leader is for people. This means that a leader must commit himself to struggle for, to develop, and to advance people prosperity and interest.

The fifth value is “golong gilig” (unity), “sawiji” (concentration to achieve the vision), “greget” (dynamic and passionate), “sengguh” (pride and trust), and “ora mingkuh” (responsible).

The sixth value is “catur gatra tunggal” meaning that there must be a unity of four places: Royal Palace, Mosque, Open Space, and Market (components of city sustainability), and these are connected with philosophical and imaginary lines.

The last value is “Pathok Negara” referring to a spatial philosophy (Mlangi, Ploso Kuning, Babadan, and Dongkelan) which gives spatial territory guidance. This value gives guidance for economic development of society, for Islamic religious development, and for Sultanate political influence.

One of the most important aspects to be noted is that “Culture” has been put as a central pillar of YSP. In this context, Culture becomes a spirit for all other pillars, for setting up the vision, mission and basic values of YSP. This means further that Culture should also become a pivotal point in environmental management. Culture should be relied on, referred to, taken into account, considered, and be a basis when government implements management functions of environment, such as planning, organizing, directing, controlling, and motivating a policy of environment. In other words, Culture should become one or even the only approach to environmental management, including that in urban areas.

The Way Forward

Even though the Cultural approach is believed to be an effective instrument for urban environmental management, some serious efforts need to be done, because the concept of Culture as one of pillars of Yogyakarta as Special Province and gives spirits to vision, mission, and basic values, it is a new concept under the new law. First, this concept needs to be socialized, in order for people in Yogyakarta to be aware of its existence. Second, this also needs to be enculturized to people in order for them not only to be aware, but also to be conscious. Third, this concept also needs to be implemented by, among other things, a cultural movement.




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