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Creative youth at Indonesian heritage sites 

A programme by UNESCO Jakarta and Citi Foundation aims to promote youth entrepreneurship and raise awareness about cultural and natural heritage by linking local communities’ livelihoods with the heritage sites. 

Indonesia, a diverse and rich heritage 

Indonesia, a diverse and large country consisting of more than seventeen thousand islands, contains many natural and cultural heritage sites, such as the World Heritage sites Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy, Borobudur Temple Compounds, and Prambanan Temple Compounds.

Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy

The cultural landscape of Bali consists of five rice terraces and their water temples that cover 19,500 ha. The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, that dates back to the 9th century. Included in the landscape is the 18th-century Royal Water Temple of Pura Taman Ayun, the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. This philosophy was born of the cultural exchange between Bali and India over the past 2,000 years and has shaped the landscape of Bali. The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago despite the challenge of supporting a dense population.

Borobudur Temple Compounds

This famous Buddhist temple, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, is located in central Java. It was built in three tiers: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and, at the top, a monumental stupa. The walls and balustrades are decorated with fine low reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,500 m2. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. The monument was restored with UNESCO's help in the 1970s.

Prambanan Temple Compounds

Located 15 km west of the historic city of Yogyakarta, Java, this 10th century temple compound is the largest dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Rising above the centre of the last of these concentric squares are three temples decorated with reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them.

Creative youth at Indonesian heritage sites

Heritage sites in Indonesia play a crucial role in sustaining heritage values and providing cultural experiences for international and domestic visitors. However, while the number of tourists visiting the heritage sites is constantly increasing, local communities living in and around the sites seldom receive the socio-economic benefits generated by the massive flow of visitors. To address this gap, the UNESCO Cluster Office for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Timor-Leste (UNESCO Jakarta) and Citi Foundation have been engaging with young entrepreneurs in six heritage sites throughout Indonesia since 2017, in a joint commitment to raise awareness on heritage preservation while enhancing the livelihood of the people living around the heritage sites.

The initiative intends to build the business capacity of local youth engaged in small scale cultural enterprises including craft, fashion, music, cooking and tourism in and around heritage sites while sensitising them on the value of heritage sites for their business opportunities. The promotion of small business activities is linked to the valorisation of intangible cultural heritage and traditional practices, such as Ulos weaving and Gorga curving (Toba), Batik (Borobudur, Yogyakarta, Prambanan) or martial art (Jakarta).

Activities developed within the framework of the project include business-capacity building and mentoring in product development, financial literacy, business planning, marketing, and branding; training on historical background and value of the heritage sites; and networking support with government offices, business professionals, market retailers and heritage experts. Additionally, competitions and public events are organised to showcase participants’ work.

The programme is open to young entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35 years. Participants are selected based on their engagement with culture or tourism-related start-ups over at least one year. 46% are women, and 40% of participants have income below the provincial annual standard. 

The project takes place in 11 districts including areas in and around several cultural and natural heritage sites in Indonesia, such as:

Initially conceived by UNESCO, the initiative is funded by CITI Foundation's annual grant scheme "Pathway to progress" aimed at supporting youth employability and livelihood. As of 2020, UNESCO Jakarta has submitted a proposal every year and has received funding grants four consecutive times, with USD 230 - 240,000 awarded every year.   

In its implementation, UNESCO Jakarta has collaborated with multiple NGOs specialised in heritage promotion and community development, experts in business development, financial planning, marketing and tourism, universities, local government offices and site management offices. For instance, several universities, through their design and marketing departments, have supported the program by encouraging faculty members and students to work with participants to develop branding, image and marketing strategies. Local governments have supported the organisation of promotional events and major online retailers have agreed to present participants’ products online. Finally, the site management office of Prambanan Temple Compounds provides employment to three of the youth trained under the programme as official guides.

In 2020, the project carried out the following achievements:

  • Trained over 400 youth entrepreneurs in the Youth Entrepreneurs Boot camp in Yogyakarta, Borobudur, Toba and Kotatua, with comprehensive sessions on business development and marketing.
  • Delivered more than 90 online courses via WhatsApp, Zoom and YouTube between March and November 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Provided mentoring sessions to over 60 weavers and fashion designers to develop face masks in response to COVID-19. Additionally, 37 artists received training to develop promotional videos to increase their online presence.
  • Mobilised more than 37 partners, government and private, to support the project.
  • Developed new business activities in two youth centres in Borobudur and Klaten.

As a consequence, approximately 30% of participants developed new products or services and more than 200 local youth brands inspired by local cultures were created. Approximately 24% of participants saw their income increase despite the pandemic, while 12% have hired new employees or increased team members. At the same time, the programme has contributed to a new dynamic of collaboration between heritage site managers, local youth and local governments.

Future challenges include ensuring a continuing engagement and monitoring beyond the workshop periods and identifying the right timing for UNESCO to exit the project, to allow local partners to develop the project independently. In 2021, the programme is planning to engage in dialogue with national-level stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Creative Industry and Tourism, to share the success of the programme and encourage other provinces to adopt similar initiatives to link heritage sites with youth livelihoods. 

By closely linking together local communities, their livelihoods and the local heritage sites, the project “Creative Youth at Indonesian Heritage Sites” aims to promote heritage conservation and engage local youth. This innovative approach can help to reconnect communities with their heritage and ensure that they receive the socio-economic benefits related to development and tourism. At the same time, the initiative enhances the value of the heritage destinations and the visitors’ experience by promoting local creative goods and services. 

Source: UNESCO Cluster Office for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Timor-Leste (UNESCO Jakarta), 2020-21. 

Contribution towards the implementation of the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape

The project could contribute to the implementation of the Historic Urban Landscape approach by connecting the local communities with heritage sites and establishing a dynamic of partnerships and collaboration between authorities, site managers, NGOs and local communities. 

Historic Urban Landscape Tools

Civic engagement tools Financial tools

Contribution towards Sustainable Development

If fully implemented in accordance with the described plans, the initiative could contribute towards Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

  • Target 8.3: the initiative aims to support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the establishment and growth of micro- and small-sized enterprises.
  • Target 8.6: the initiative might contribute to reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

  • Target 11.4: the initiative aims to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage by raising awareness amongst local youth on the value of cultural and natural heritage and creating a direct connection between the sites and their livelihoods.

Note: the described potential impacts of the projects are only indicative and based on submitted and available information. 

To learn more

UNESCO Cluster Office for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Timor-Leste (UNESCO Jakarta). https://en.unesco.org/fieldoffice/jakarta

Note: The cases shared in this platform address heritage protection practices in World Heritage sites and beyond. Items being showcased in this website do not entail any type of recognition or inclusion in the World Heritage list or any of its thematic programmes. The practices shared are not assessed in any way by the World Heritage Centre or presented here as model practices nor do they represent complete solutions to heritage management problems. The views expressed by experts and site managers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Heritage Centre. The practices and views shared here are included as a way to provide insights and expand the dialogue on heritage conservation with a view to further urban heritage management practice in general.