How young people in Indonesia see themselves as environmentalists: Identity, behaviour, perceptions and responsibility

Lyn Parker, Kelsie Prabawa-Sear, Wahyu Kustiningsih

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Very little is known about environmental awareness in Indonesia. This article helps to address that ignorance with data from a survey of 1,000 senior high school students in Yogyakarta and Surabaya. The selected schools participate in environmental education (EE) programmes such as the Eco schools programme and Adiwiyata. Almost 90% of our respondents self-identified as environmentalists–no doubt reflecting their participation in EE programmes. However, low levels of reported environmental behaviours raised questions about what it meant to identify as an environmentalist in Indonesia. We explored students’ understanding of environmental issues at local, national and international levels; what they thought they could do about these issues; the perceived barriers to solving the problems; and who was responsible for solving the problems. Students identified waste/rubbish as the main problem locally, but were not well informed about environmental issues nationally and internationally. They are vague about how to ameliorate environmental problems, reflecting the weakness of EE in problem-solving. They never identified consumption as a problem. According to students, ‘society’–rather than governments, industry or consumers–is responsible for addressing environmental problems, but they identified society’s lack of environmental knowledge, care and awareness as the main barriers to solving environmental problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-282
JournalIndonesia and the Malay World
Issue number136
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2018


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