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Across Land and Sea: Samdhana Jamboree Brings Young Leaders Together


Conversation between IP youth with Masyarakat Adat Dalem Tamblingan (MADT). (SAMDHANA/Naely)

This year, Samdhana celebrates 20 years of action and participation in the social and environmental movement in Southeast Asia. To celebrate this milestone, while also looking ahead to many more years of positive impact, we are hosting a number of events throughout the region. Each activity will focus on gathering, listening and co-creating, with the overarching aim of empowering Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs).

From 20-25 August 2023, Samdhana hosted the third iteration of Jamboree Nusantara; a gathering of young leaders in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Held in tandem with the second Regional Youth Summit, this event provided a forum where IPLCs could make their voices heard and share solutions to the evolving challenges posed by a changing global climate. The event was held at Adat Dalem Tamblingan in Catur Desa, part of Bali’s Buleleng region.

The central theme of this year’s Jamboree Nusantara was segara-gunung – a Balinese philosophy that considers mountains and seas to be inseparable. This focus on commonality and connectivity provided the perfect metaphor for the event, which brought together more than 80 participants from seven countries in the Southeast Asia region. Each of these groups shared unique experiences and offered their own solutions for dealing with the threat of environmental damage and climate change in the areas where they live.


Sharing ideas, fostering solidarity among the next generation of leaders

The main objective of Jamboree Nusantara and the accompanying Youth Summit was to provide a space for intergenerational information sharing and the exchange of ideas, good practices and experiences. These activities also set out to foster solidarity among young people, and especially young women leaders, so that they are better equipped to handle the impacts of climate change in their communities.

Most of the 80 participants were 18-35 years in age, representing youth voices and diverse experiences from the Philippines and the Mekong area (Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos), along with communities from Bali and other locations in Indonesia (Papua, Maluku, Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Sumatra and the Lesser Sunda Islands). Each of these participants was invited due to their prior experience in leading community groups in natural resource management activities. This made them a collection of innovators and activists, ready and willing to share insights with their peers.

Over five days, participants discussed a wide range of issues together and offered innovative solutions from their own cultural and geopolitical context. This covered everything from waste management (organic and inorganic) and sustainable agriculture to the protection of water sources, forests and coastlines. Activities combined class meetings, group discussions, presentations and brainstorming sessions, punctuated by a series of group treks and exploration of cultural practices.


Walking the path together: trekking, learning, building solidarity

Following their arrival on Sunday, 20 August, participants registered with the event organisers and were given a tour of their campsite. They then began to make their preparations for the upcoming presentations and sharing sessions. The following day began with a traditional Balinese pendet welcoming dance. This was followed by opening remarks from Dane Pengerajeg Adat Dalem Tamblingan (I Gusti Agung Ngurah Pradnyan), Martua T. Sirait (Director of the Samdhana Institute in Indonesia) and Gede Melandrat (Head of the Environment and Forestry Service, Buleleng Regency).

Next, the participants engaged in a cultural dialogue together, followed by an online discussion with Hilmar Farid, Ph.D. (Indonesia’s Director General of Culture, Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology). This discussion focused on food security and sovereignty, while also exploring the linkages between communities, companies and the government. Over the next few days, the groups engaged in a packed schedule of youth sharing sessions, casual chats, plenary activities, trekking expeditions and games.


Indigenous heritage takes centre stage 

Each day in the itinerary culminated in a ‘solidarity night’. The delegates would take turns to host an evening of heritage from their homeland in the form of dance, art, music, film and traditional handicrafts. On Monday, 21 August, the first solidarity night was hosted by participants from the Philippines, who performed traditional dances, screened a documentary from the Palawan community and introduced the participants to a unique mat folding game. 

On Wednesday, 23 August, participants were split into four groups, which travelled to Gobleg, Munduk, Gesing and Umejero, respectively. They visited coffee plantations, an orange orchard, rice fields, clove plantations, lakes and forests. Each group was tasked with preparing a travelogue presentation of their experience in each location. 

On their travels, they discovered the changes in land use that have occurred in Gobleg Village and learn how people in Munduk Village protect and maintenance of the environment in Lake Tamblingan. Participants also see the clove plantations and rice fields, which serve as the primary sources of revenue in Gesing Village. And see how coffee cultivation served as the main source of income for the people living in the Umejero community.

In the same day, local community in Gobleg Village shared their knowledge with the participants on how to make traditional canang sari offerings, traditional dances, gamelan music, traditional games such as gangsing and even invited the participants to practice in hand at cooking local dishes such as sate, pepes and ayam lawar. 

The second solidarity night was hosted by members of the Mekong delegation, who led the group in a series of games; performed traditional arts from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam; and taught their fellow participants how to sing a song in the Khmer language. 


Participants get a taste of Indonesian culture and tradition

The third solidarity night was hosted by the Indonesian group, who showcased traditional dances from around the archipelago. This included the Hena Masa Waya and Poco-poco dances, from Maluku; the Burung Enggang dance, from Kalimantan; the Utu-utu Kalayo dance of the Moi tribe and the Sajojo dance, from Papua; and the Ja’I dance of the Ngada tribe from Nusa Tenggara. 

For the fourth and final solidarity night, it was the turn of the Balinese to entertain their international guests and neighbours. Comprising youth members from Buleleng, Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar, Tabanan, Karangasem, Klungkung and Jembrana, the Balinese group led the Jamboree participants in a game of mekacang ori/goak-goakan, which involves two groups trying to catch each other’s tails. This was followed by joged bungbung, which is a social dance; and a performance of the island’s iconic kecak dance, which tells the story of the Ramayana epic through dance, drama and fire. The evening was completed by the presentation of souvenirs to each of the participants.


A rallying point for future efforts

The final day of the Jamboree and Youth Summit focused on reviewing the lessons learned, presenting findings and planning ahead for future endeavours. The groups performed their presentations from the trekking programme and shared some of their highlights from the week’s activities. Participants from each country were asked to create visual statements about how to address environmental issues in their respective locations. A central theme that emerged from this activity was the need for self-confidence and determination; an approach that was crystalised by a commitment to “take action and be willing to act.”

The Jamboree and Youth Summit was organised by Samdhana in collaboration with the Wisnu Foundation and BRASTI and with support from the community of Adat Dalem Tamblingan in Bali. This collaborative effort involved leaders and representatives from various traditional communities in Catur Desa, comprising four villages, the Family Welfare Movement (PKK), the Kayusambuk Foundation and a youth group from Pasut Munduk Village.

The ultimate aim of the event was to build a Southeast Asian youth network of Indigenous Peoples and local youth activists, who can engage and galvanise their communities. Moving forward, by harnessing the collective knowledge of their peers and by mobilising on social media platforms, these groups intend to build their knowledge and raise awareness of forest and coastal marine conservation and restoration efforts.

Indeed, the formalisation of the Southeast Asian Youth Network was one of the major outcomes from the Jamboree.  Participants  signed a declaration on their commitment to be part of the network.  Representing the Philippines, the Mekong and Indonesia, this declaration provides a rallying point for future efforts and the basis for a regional agenda among youth groups in each country.


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