Indonesia is an intricate tapestry of cultural diversity, with more than 300 languages spoken and the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia. While the country has made significant progress since reinstituting democratic elections over a decade ago, Indonesia’s government continues to struggle to design and implement public policies that are effective and socially accountable.
Good public policies depend on access to high-quality data, innovation, and evidence, as well as the willingness to use it. To arm policymakers with the accurate, timely, and relevant information they need to move the country forward, Indonesia must increase knowledge production, strengthen existing research hubs, and overcome systemic barriers in the knowledge-to-policy process.
A Holistic Approach to Strengthening Indonesia’s Knowledge Sector
In support of Indonesia’s goals to improve public policy by applying research, analysis, and evidence, RTI is leading a project known as the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI). Funded by the government of Australia, KSI seeks to strengthen the knowledge sector—incorporating research, analysis, and evidence in policymaking—to enable the Government of Indonesia to improve the lives of its citizens.
The Knowledge Sector Initiative is a joint commitment between the governments of Indonesia and Australia that seeks to improve the lives of the Indonesian people through improved public policies that make better use of research, analysis, and evidence. Our role is to strengthen, connect, and systematize the four key components of the knowledge sector—knowledge production, knowledge intermediation, and knowledge demand and use, as well as the enabling environment.
The KSI approach integrates those four components within policy-specific knowledge communities, or policy ecosystems, in which policymakers, researchers, civil society, and media organizations interact in order to produce policies that can benefit Indonesia as a whole.
Supporting Independent Initiatives to Fund Research
KSI is helping research institutes produce better quality research and communicate it more effectively to politicians. We are also helping policymakers use research evidence to improve the design and implementation of policy, building networks between policymakers and researchers, and building an environment conducive for evidence-informed policymaking.
One of the greatest barriers to evidence-based policy in Indonesia is the lack of funding for research. Indonesia spends far less than other emerging economies on research and development, and bureaucratic restrictions make it difficult to access state funding for research. And there is very little private research funding.
To put Indonesia’s researchers on a more level ground, KSI has provided support for initiatives like the Indonesian Science Fund (ISF), established by the Indonesian Academy of Sciences. With support from the Indonesian government through the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education, ISF serves as an independent body that will directly fund scientists to conduct world-class research to increase Indonesia’s global competitiveness.
Connecting Research to Strategic Planning at the National and Local Levels
Housed within the Deputy of Economic Affairs at Bappenas (Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development Planning), KSI also works to support the vision of President Joko Widodo’s vision that Bappenas should function as a think tank for the executive branch of government.
Overall, KSI collaborates with 16 key research partners whose work extends beyond the national level. For example, research performed by the Institute for Research and Empowerment (IRE) in Yogyakarta and the Gunung Kidul district guided development of a master plan for poverty alleviation that was created with KSI core funding.
IRE and the Gunung Kidul government worked together to identify and document how some villages use sustainable livelihood approaches to counter poverty. Local governments then incorporated the research results in the formulation of strategies to alleviate poverty in their communities.
Going forward, KSI will focus on developing policy-oriented knowledge communities—each focused on a key issue, including the Village Law, procurement of research and higher education, and bureaucratic reform. Within these knowledge communities, KSI will help researchers and policymakers engage closely to demand, produce, and use evidence for improved public policy.