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Cahaya Ramadhani joined the ASAP Secretariat in July 2023. With her diverse background that includes advising on conservation policy and stakeholder engagement, she is well placed to take the lead on ASAP’s programme in Indonesia. In this interview, we asked Cahaya how she came to work in conservation and what her hopes are for her new role with ASAP.

How did you initially become interested in conservation? 

My journey into conservation is like an adventure story, with plenty of twists and turns. I’ve been a nature enthusiast from day one, having grown up surrounded by Indonesia’s incredible nature. After initially starting on an academic path, I then went on to study journalism. While studying I actively participated in an outdoor adventure club on campus, trying everything from caving, rock climbing, rafting, and scuba diving. This paved the way for a career as a TV journalist after graduation. I travelled across Indonesia, capturing its natural wonders and meeting incredible people.

Then came a gap year, where I volunteered as a teacher in a remote part of Indonesia. There, I saw not only beauty but also development challenges and equality issues in my own country. So, I decided to pursue a master’s degree, focusing on global development with a specialisation in gender studies.

After my master’s, I sought a role that would combine my journalism experience with my desire to work in conservation and took a job in environmental policy advocacy with a focus on wildlife trade and biodiversity. As I embraced the role, I realised how multi-dimensional conservation is, and how it extends beyond scientific knowledge; it requires a holistic social approach and a deep understanding of cultural and societal factors. Now it’s clear to me how my varied experiences help me to be effective in the dynamic world of conservation. 

Cahaya grew up surrounded by incredible nature in Indonesia

You’ve worked on stakeholder engagement in previous roles. How did you think that experience will bring benefits to ASAP Partners in Indonesia?  

In today’s challenging world of conservation, working together and collaborating are super important for making a real impact. Indonesia’s conservation challenges are unique; understanding the cultural, sociological, and political factors is an essential part of tackling environmental issues. My past experiences have shown me how to connect with all sorts of people – whether it’s chatting with local communities, collaborating with government bodies, or teaming up with NGOs. I’ve also learned that open communication and inclusivity are like power tools in the conservation toolkit.

I’m absolutely committed to using all this knowledge and experience to make sure that ASAP Partners in Indonesia not only feel heard, but also get the tailored support they need to thrive in their unique circumstances. 

What part of your role with ASAP are you most excited about? 

I’m thrilled about the chance to connect with passionate individuals and groups all sharing the same mission. It’s like being part of an interesting, dynamic community committed to making a positive environmental impact. I’m also particularly excited about putting ASAP’s approach into action in my role. I love how genuinely caring ASAP is about individuals and organisations. We’re here to see everyone succeed and we’re willing to go the extra mile, within our capacity, of course, to support our partners’ journey. It’s this heartfelt commitment that makes my role exciting. 

Is there anything you’d like to say to the ASAP Partners, both in Indonesia and beyond?  

You’re all incredible!! I’m truly grateful to be joining you on this journey and I’m looking forward to building more connections and collaborating.

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