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FELLOWSHIP INTERVIEW SESSION: Dr. Jonatan Lassa as Senior Research Fellow of Disaster and Climate Resilience

admin - May 04, 2021 06:33:10 pm 7 Views Location - Zoom Video Communications

 Last March, RDI held an interview session with a senior fellow who has an interest in Disaster and Climate Resilience. Our senior fellow, Dr. Jonatan   Lassa, is one of the research fellows selected to share his experiences at RDI and provide opinions and input for the future development of RDI.  This   interview included four questions regarding research on disaster management.

 Dr. Jonatan Lassa began by sharing his opinion on the need for research on disaster management in Indonesia. He first explained that forty years     ago, at that time, Indonesia still depended on foreign countries in terms of ideas, the ability to see research gaps, to funding. However, in the past     two  decades, research related to disaster and disaster risk in Indonesia has increased from year to year. Even today, it has become much better     than 10 years ago, both in terms of the number of researchers and the number of research outputs.

According to him, the aim of a research is to better understand the reality that we want to understand. For example, if the focus is about disaster, then the reality that we want to understand should be the natural (physical) and built (anthropogenic) environmental behaviour, to the variables that condition the situation to be vulnerable to events that threaten both life and property. He then continued by mentioning that this purpose is layered, at the level that funds, primarily the government, the aim is to get a practical answer to the question "then what? what should be done now?". Meanwhile, on the research side, for example in the Western tradition, research aims for the long term, namely, to understand the multi-dimensional behaviours of the universe, such as living things including humans. The answers are both short and long terms. For example, like the case of COVID-19, we want a direct answer through product innovation in vaccine technology and medicines, to the quick results in the form of more direct social process innovations such as 3M and 3T.

Regarding his opinion on how can RDI contribute to this issue, he made it clear that RDI as a think tank that is claimed to be 'Global' is quite problematic. It is true that knowledge contribution is necessary, and its nature should exceed the boundaries of the physical area. However, according to him, 'Global' is more suitable to be used, because we should be looking more at systemic processes such as climate change or changes in the global physical and economic environment as well as contributing to thinking on global problems but treating those global problem locally. He then took an example of the transformation of fossil energy and plastic waste that must be started start from our kitchen. To treat the deficit in response capacity to the impacts of climate change, it must start with the transformation of individuals, families, neighbourhoods, hamlets, villages, sub-districts, cities to the state. This perspective sees the totality of the resilience and preparedness of a country as the aggregation of actions at the level of smaller units as for now there is still a kind of 'bubble'  in assessing the resilience of a country. For example, the central government can easily claim that we have succeeded in making our schools, houses, industries, and infrastructure disaster safe. But in reality, there are only less than 5percent of schools have been facilitated for disaster management in 12 years. The role of RDI is to help identify gaps in disaster, energy, urban planning policies etc., for a more resilient earth society, including Indonesia.

In addition to answering questions related to disaster and climate resilience, Mr. Jonatan Lassa finishing up by providing suggestions or input as well as his opinion for the development of RDI itself. He advised that self-criticism is necessary but RDI also needs to strengthen their resilience to face criticism, to be able to be more seriously involved in building alternative discourses. He mentioned that webinar is a great start but more RDI researchers need to be involved in public intellectual discourses and increase their writings in newspapers, blogs/microblogs and be more involved in 'street conversations' to connect with the online grassroots.

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