TwynstraGudde wins tender for coastal zone management project in Indonesia

Water Governance and Climate

Central Java

“With this project, we hope to really contribute to the future of Central Java. We’re delighted to win this tender.” Susan Arts, a consultant in TwynstraGudde’s Water advisory group, is both proud and enthusiastic. In late January, it was announced that a consortium comprising engineering firm Witteveen+Bos Indonesia, TwynstraGudde (leading partner), Akvo and local Indonesian partner Bita had been awarded the contract for an attractive project on Java in Indonesia. Susan: “We’re going to help the province of Central Java to adopt the principles of integrated coastal zone management, so that the province can implement them on its own in two years’ time.”


Ensuring a lasting effect

On Java – in fact throughout Indonesia – a lot of people live and work on the coast. As such, there’s huge pressure on the available space. To create fish farms and paddy fields, a lot of mangrove forests are cut down. Plus, huge quantities of water are needed for drinking water and industrial uses. Rapid population growth and increasing urbanization are also taking their toll. This has resulted in a whole host of problems on the north coat of Java, like subsidence, a decline in biodiversity and an increased risk of flooding.

There are already various projects on Java to improve the situation. These have been in place since November 2013 as part of a joint venture between the Indonesian and Dutch government. Agreements for the water sector have been laid down in a joint Memorandum of Understanding Water. The north coast of Java has been named as one of the focus areas. Previous experience has shown that it’s possible to improve the situation. But for the results to be sustainable, it’s important that the province of Central Java is able to implement integrated coastal zone management itself. Susan: “Here, on Java, it’s about very real and urgent problems. The question in the tender application from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) was: How can you ensure that the province of Central Java can continue to anticipate the challenges it is facing concerning sustainable coastal development? In other words, our work has to have a lasting effect. That’s why we’re going to draw up a long-term strategy together to develop knowledge and capacities.”

Collaboration with Witteveen+Bos

TwynstraGudde and Witteveen+Bos Indonesia decided to join forces for this project. Susan: ‘Witteveen+Bos is an engineering firm with a lot of technical knowledge and experience with projects on Java. TwynstraGudde’s expertise is in strategy, organisation and management, like developing knowledge and capacity building We also have international experience, for instance from implementing the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 project. We complement each other.” For the tender, TwynstraGudde’s experience in learning development was a key trump card. “Although we’re a fresh new face on Java in this respect, we bring with us a lot of knowledge about experience learning and developing capacities from the Delta Plan in Bangladesh, amongst others. Our basic principle is that we speak to stakeholders involved about their expertise and interests. We work very closely with them to come up with versatile and promising solutions. This creates a rich, rewarding approach with more support and a greater likelihood of continuous change.”

Complex context

That’s not to say that the process will be easy though. Susan: “It’s an exciting project because there are so many other forces at play. There’s an uncertainty about the future, with a lot of conflicting interests and administrative challenges. For instance, the desired developments in the economy and the requisite infrastructure. We’re aware of the complex context and we also know that we can’t control other developments. What we can do, however, is ensure that we get the subject on the agenda, administratively speaking, and help the government to achieve things. As such, within the consortium, we’re working together with local liaisons with a strong network in Indonesia and who know a lot about the local and administrative culture.”

Innovative insight

A quick look at the local way of working in terms of knowledge sharing immediately gave an innovative insight. Akvo advised not to go for a traditional handbook to inform the province and the stakeholders about what integrated coastal management entails. Susan: “We chose to build a sort of Wikipedia portal, based on Akvopedia. In Indonesia, where people are very geared towards visual communication, that approach works better than a handbook.”

“Pressure cooker”

The kick-of meeting for the project is planned for March. What will the approach be? “We first want to look into what knowledge and skills the government and other stakeholders in Central Java have. In doing so, we’ll also outline where improvements can be made. Based on that, we’ll set to work on shaping a strategy. Our assignment is for two years, during which time we want to establish a solid foundation of sustainable future development. We’re going to achieve that by way of a 10-year strategic plan and 2-year implementation programme. We’ll definitely need those first two years It takes time to learn. The idea is to deploy our team as the project progresses and gets busier. Like a pressure cooker, we’ll increase the pressure step by step and always in short bursts, achieving a lot as we go. After an intense session like that, stakeholders on Java can set straight to work with what they’ve learned. And the Central Java government can then have a better overview of the progress we make. At the end of the day, this job is also about coaching; the province of Central Java has to be able to do these things itself.”

A few facts

The consortium

  • As lead partner, TwynstraGudde is responsible for the project being led by Jaap de Heer; we have a lot of knowledge and experience in strategy, organisation and management.
  • Witteveen+Bos Indonesia and its operational project leader Victor Coenen have the technical expertise and experience of coastal development.
  • Bita: A multidisciplinary Indonesia consultancy.
  • Akvo: A Dutch organisation (with a local office on Bali) that helps countries and organisations to improve decision-making in development projects. Akvo’s focus will be on unlocking data.


  • Team: Jaap de Heer (former employee TwynstraGudde), Susan Arts, Pim Nijssen
  • Role: To advise on and provide coaching for capacity building and knowledge development, e.g. institutional capacity, connective capacity, strategy forming, stakeholder management and financing.