Protecting coastal communities from the impacts of climate change project wins Newton Prize 2019 for Indonesia

Image of Newton Prize 2019 Indonesia winners on stage at London event

The second Newton Prize 2019 winner has been announced at an event in Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday 14 January.

The winning UK-Indonesia partnership is helping to protect coastal communities from the devastation caused by coastal hazards such as flooding and tsunamis. The research has improved Indonesia’s capacity to deal with these events through better communications and warning procedures.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events and natural hazards. The research, which was led by Professor Richard Haigh, University of Huddersfield and Dr Harkunti Rahayu Institute of Technology Bandung, combined two distinct approaches – disaster risk reduction and climate change adaption – and developed a new integrated strategy to better protect homes, businesses and infrastructure in coastal urban areas. The team produced a policy statement to embed the research in Indonesia’s development plan.

UK and Indonesia Newton Prize winners © Newton Prize 2019

The project also addressed tsunami preparedness and informed the priorities and approach of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean to tsunami warning in Indonesia and other countries in the Indian Ocean.

Coastal communities are often vital hubs of economic and social development. The results of this work are important for other coastal countries, such as the UK, which are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Five projects were shortlisted for the Indonesia category of the Newton Prize. These included:

  • improving the lives of women by ensuring their views and needs are accounted for by urban planners and decision makers
  • improved diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis
  • quick, inexpensive testing for insect spread infectious disease
  • how a simple dietary change can reduce the risk of dementia by 20% and improve memory

Another UK-Indonesia project, on affordable bridge monitoring solutions that have reduced life-threatening accidents and improved economic development, has been shortlisted for the £500,000 Chair’s Award. The winner of the Chair’s Award will be announced at an event in London on Wednesday 12 February 2020.

Heather Wheeler, UK Minister for Asia and the Pacific:

"The success of the UK-Indonesia Science and Technology Partnership, which we support through the Newton Fund has led to a step change in our research and innovation relationship. We have more British and Indonesian researchers working together than ever before, with joint programmes in health, food, energy, biodiversity and sustainability driving positive change in the lives of many in Indonesia. The Newton Prize facilitates some of the strongest international research, and brings together the best minds from across a number of areas."

Professor Bambang Brodjonegoro, the Minister of Research and Technology / Head of National Research and Innovation Agency:

"From 2014 to 2019, the number of research and innovation collaborations between the UK and Indonesia has significantly increased. Thanks to the Newton Fund, we have jointly rolled out 22 calls for applications over 15 schemes that benefit more than 200 individuals from more than 100 organisations in the UK and Indonesia.

I hope the collaboration between the UK and Indonesia on science and innovation continues to flourish."

Delivery partners: British Council, UK and Ministry of Research and Technology/ National Research and Innovation Agency (Kemenristek/BRIN).

Read the full case study in the Newton Prize 2019 booklet (PDF, 3Mb).

View images from the Newton Prize 2019 London event.


Newton Prize 2019

The Newton Prize is an annual £1 million fund developed to showcase how UK science and innovation partnerships are helping to solve global development challenges. The Newton Prize also incentivises researchers and innovators to participate in the Newton Fund as partners with the UK to work on the most important challenges facing developing countries such as poverty, gender equality and affordable and clean energy.

This year over 150 Newton funded projects, fellowships or other awards applied for the Newton Prize. Three prizes of up to £200,000 each will be awarded to winning projects with the eligible countries: China, Indonesia and the Philippines. An additional Chair’s Award of up to £500,000 will be presented to one project from across the three countries that best demonstrates knowledge exchange and partnership working.

The funding allows researchers to take their Newton projects to the next level, for example by translating their project from the lab into the field, through expansion and/or improvements to their original project, by bringing in more capacity or gaining higher profile; all increasing the likelihood of success.

Further announcements

During January the shortlisted projects will be celebrated at award events taking place in China, Indonesia and the Philippines, where the winning project for that country will be announced. These events will be followed by a UK reception in February, co-hosted by Professor John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Penny Sarchet, Head of news at New Scientist magazine, to celebrate international and science innovation collaborations.

The Newton Fund

The Newton Prize is part of the Newton Fund. The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 17 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.

Newton Fund and GCRF are drawing to a close. The International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF) is a new UK Government fund supporting research and innovation on the major themes of our time: Planet, Health, Tech, Talent. To stay on the Newton-GCRF website click Continue, if you would like to find out more about ISPF click Read more.