During the announcement Mr Bob Carr explained many people in the area surrounding Borobudur were still living in poverty and that their situation was exacerbated by the Mt Merapi eruptions. The Minister expressed his wish to help the local communities through contributing to the Third Phase of UNESCO’s Borobudur project, which will focus on improving the livelihoods of communities through the creative and tourism industries.
Mr Hubert Gijzen, Director and Representative from the UNESCO Office in Jakarta, who was also present at the event, expressed his sincere appreciation for this generous contribution and stated that these funds would help the communities benefit from the two and half million tourists who visit the temple every year. Mr Hubert Gijzen also brought attention to the skills and creative potential within the area which can be utilized to empower the communities and improve their standard of living.
Representatives from the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office and PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan and Ratu Boko as well as Mr Warwick Purser (Chairman of the Friends of Borobudur) were also present and joined Mr Hubert Gijzen in welcoming the Minister and Mr Greg Moriarty (Australian Ambassador to Indonesia) to the temple.
After the announcement the Minister answered questions from the national and international press. He then had the opportunity to walk around the temple with experts from Gadjah Mada University and the staff from the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office, who told him about the temple’s history and explained how the volcanic ash from Mt Merapi was cleared from the structure following the volcano’s catastrophic eruptions.
The visit ended with an exchange of gifts between UNESCO and the Minister, to show UNESCO’s appreciation to Australia for supporting UNESCO’s community focused activities.
To find out more about UNESCO’s Third Phase activities please see this link. Through this vital contribution the project intends to build the capacities of the local communities to make naturally sourced and sustainable quality items for resale in the area.