SDGs central to Indonesian-Dutch education cooperation

With an opening talk show, ministers Bambang Brodjonegoro and Ingrid van Engelshoven set the stage for the inaugural Week of Indonesia - Netherlands Education and Research (WINNER).
Posted by Jeroen Langelaar

Through collaboration in education and research, Indonesia and The Netherlands aim to accelerate their contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The first annual WINNER event not only reaffirms the close bonds between the two countries, it also represents a new chapter in a bilateral cooperation that already spans decades – a cooperation built on ‘respect, trust and friendship’, as King Willem-Alexander stated during the state visit to Indonesia earlier this year.

Achieving more, together

WINNER (24-26 November) brings together the best and brightest Indonesian and Dutch researchers, practitioners, educators and stakeholders from industry, government and civil society. Held online because of COVID-19, participants will share knowledge in order to take Indonesian-Dutch collaboration in education and research to the next level, while contributing to the SDGs.

“International cooperation in science and education is essential to maintain a high level of quality. Together we can accomplish so much more than on our own”, says Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven. “Science and higher education can only benefit from that.”

Longstanding historical ties

Bambang Brodjonegoro, Minister of Research and Technology and Chief of National Research and Innovation Agency, agrees. “The Netherlands and Indonesia have longstanding cultural and historical ties. We work together in the areas that benefit both countries. I really believe that only by intensifying international collaboration, we can optimise and amplify resources that we have to address challenges. We want to celebrate, strengthen and expand our intensive cooperation and comprehensive partnership.”

WINNER is organised by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), the Indonesian Academy of Young Scientists (ALMI), the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education (Nuffic Neso Indonesia), and the Dutch embassy in Jakarta.

Many more opportunities

Van Engelshoven: “We are lucky to work so closely with Indonesia, both in higher education and science. The Indonesian science sector is developing very rapidly and has achieved so much in such a short time. That is quite impressive, and we would like to be part of this development. Not only do many institutions from Indonesia and the Netherlands cooperate, we have also been partners for quite some years now on a more strategic academic level. And there are many more opportunities for us to work together and combine our strengths.”

"Together we can accomplish so much more than on our own"

When it comes to strengths, Brodjonegoro emphasises the important role of everyday people in both countries. “In these times, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, ideas for producing innovations are not merely coming from higher education or other government and or private institutes. Innovations can even come up from the grass root level. Therefore, to reach the goals of national sustainable development programs, please invite innovators from the grass root level as well.”

A positive influence

Van Engelshoven sees collaboration opportunities in topics like climate change, law and justice, agriculture, medical research, and resilience of society – and, of course, the fight against COVID-19.

“I think there are plenty of opportunities where we can combine our strengths and expertise to better fight the effects of this outbreak and possible future outbreaks”, says Minister Van Engelshoven (photo).

Both ministers emphasise that knowledge circulation and sharing are important for the development of new ideas, in research as well as innovation. According to them, education and research are key in reaching the SDG’s. Van Engelshoven: “Education enables people to develop their talents, so they can contribute to society and to reaching the SDGs.” The same holds true for science, she says, by focusing on research themes ‘that have a positive influence on people’s lives’, like climate, health, resilience of society, social systems, and food technology.

From paper to practice

Brodjonegoro is hopeful that WINNER, which will be held annually for the next five years, will jumpstart new collaborations and innovations. “I hope that the first WINNER week succeeds in achieving the research goals, and that participants will be able to come up with innovations that can be commercialised for society. The many personal relationships are a promising basis for collaboration. We look forward to a shared future full of promise.”

Van Engelshoven believes Indonesia and the Netherlands will keep working together closely in the future, with a shared focus on mutual interests and opportunities. “I hope WINNER brings the SDGs from paper to practice. I wish the participants inspiring and fruitful meetings. Keep up the good work!”

Week of Indonesia - Netherlands Education and Research

WINNER is part of the Dutch-Indonesian collaboration on education and research, and is supported by Neso Indonesia. Find out more on the WINNER website.