Sumbawa Besar is the capital of the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. The word “besar” means ‘capital’ but also forms the basis for the island’s slogan: “Bersih, Elok, Sehat, Aman dan, Rapi” or “clean, beautiful, healthy, safe, and proper”.
When Elly Tartati Ratni, speaks of her home town, it is clear that this five-word description is apt. Elly recalls the coastal town as a beautiful to grow up in. She speaks of her childhood there with great fondness, especially her years as a girl scout.
“I loved being in the girl scouts, the hiking, the camping… everything was related to nature.” She said. These activities were the catalyst for Elly’s love for nature and ultimately triggered her interest in protecting the environment.
Nowadays, Elly lives in the city of Blitar in the East Java province. The city is famous as the burial place of Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia and leader of the country’s independence movement that ended Dutch rule.
This makes Blitar an important place for many Indonesians who travel there by the thousands each year to visit Sukarno’s grave. Blitar is also known as a city where people go to retire because of its nice surroundings, little traffic and overall peacefulness.
Elly appreciates the high quality of life in Blitar and wants her community to be able to fully experience it as well. As Head of the Research and Development subdivision in the Development and Planning Agency, she aims to accomplish precisely that.
“Blitar is a good city to live in and we need to make sure it stays that way,” she said.
Elly at work at the Development and Planning Agency in Blitar.
Elly also works as part of the city’s Climate Change Team. Here she strives to build awareness of climate change amongst Blitar’s community.
“We try to take the climate change term down to earth so people can relate it to their daily lives,” Elly explains.
In order to increase awareness and resilience building, she highlights the problems that might affect the day-to-day lives of Blitar’s residents. The Climate Change Team even has a radio talk show on a popular local station, which they use for awareness raising.
When Blitar’s mayor’s office first came into contact with ACCCRN through Mercy Corps, Elly was excited about this new cooperation.
“We immediately realised the importance of understanding our climate vulnerability and being able to evaluate it ourselves.” She continues, “It was exciting to be given the chance to take action here in Blitar.”
The goal was to integrate climate vulnerability and risk assessments into the city’s urban spatial planning process. Learning how to manage this highly technical process seemed intimidating at first. However, Elly knew that Blitar’s community might benefit massively from it and took on the challenge determined to increase the city’s climate resilience.
The work Elly does in Blitar often makes her think about her hometown, Sumbawa Besar, which in order to maintain its quality of life will also have to increase its climate resilience due to it being exposed to the ocean. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural management to help her community maintain food security and is especially interested in the role of hydroponics.
There is no doubt that Elly’s work is rooted in the communities that have shaped her as a person, which is why she is such a champion; thinking globally and acting locally.
For Elly, climate change resilience building requires community co-operation and it is down to climate practitioners to change the behaviour of others. Elly is hopeful that this can happen, especially when she looks at the younger generations in Blitar.
“To tackle climate change we must change behaviour. We must work with the young people to educate them about climate change, they are the future of Blitar,” Elly ends.
Recommended reading by Elly Tartati Ratni: The Developing Process of Risk and Vulnerability Assessment of Blitar City
In this presentation Elly explains the process of developing the climate change resilience strategy for Blitar. For her this is of great importance as it shows the practical application of a process that can be applied by cities around the world.
“The process was not easy” Elly said, “but it was very good to learn new skills and it meant that we were able to understand the risks that climate change poseses to Blitar in a way that we would not have imagined before”.
Watch our interview with Elly