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Behaviour change along the river

Collaborating on a clean up of the Citarum River catchment

With four Monash University researchers, BehaviourWorks Research Fellow, Fraser Tull, recently travelled to Indonesia to participate in a workshop exploring how multidisciplinary approaches can be used to address the profound environmental challenges facing the Citarum River catchment; one of the most polluted areas in the world.

The workshop, hosted by the Provincial Environmental Agency and Citarum Harum Taskforce, sought to build regional research relationships and foster a program of research to accelerate river restoration.

Researchers from four local universities presented at the workshop. The Monash team presented on the innovative Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) program, which is taking a ‘living lab’ approach to water and sanitation management in 24 informal settlements in the region.

Subsequent discussions focused on how collaborative approaches can be used to fast-track the translation of research evidence into short term outcomes and how a RISE-style approach could provide a roadmap for longer-term solutions.

Big wicked problem

The team visited three sites along the river that have been the focus of interventions in areas such as solid waste management and community education, river remediation and flood control. In one part of the river, for example, the Army has been deployed to help the clean-up and enforce certain actions.

“Even in these sites, the river remains heavily polluted by domestic, industrial, livestock/agricultural and solid waste,” said Fraser, whose role on the project is to help ensure that human-centred and behavioural approaches are considered in interventions.

“It was difficult seeing an area under such pressure; it is a big, wicked problem, but there are signs of hope, with local champions doing great work, such as opening nature-based schools to help foster environmental values in the next generation,” said Fraser.

“We have much further to go on this journey, but there is a lot of interest from both national and international research communities on how they can contribute to the project.”

A video on how the Monash Faculty of Art and Design is contributing to this project can be found here.

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