My research focus is on climate change, particularly Indonesia’s efforts to reduce its tropical forest emissions.
Previously I had around 20 years’ experience working with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). Highlights of this period were postings to Indonesia and South Africa. More recently I spend several years working on water reform issues at Australia’s National Water Commission.
In 2009 I commenced a Masters program in climate change at the Australian National University, which included attending the UNFCCC Conference in Copenhagen in that year. My Masters research focused on the mixed outcomes of Australia’s efforts in working with Indonesia to reduce deforestation in the province of Central Kalimantan. The study found that little progress has been made by this project, that fundamental governance challenges and drivers of deforestation were not well considered, and that the project was unlikely to achieve its anticipated mitigation goals. A report on this research was published both by the ANU and by the journal Climate Law (E.Olbrei and S. Howes 2012, A very real and practical contribution? Lessons from the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership. Issue 3/2012: 103-137).
I am now undertaking doctoral research on climate change with the Crawford School of Public Policy at the ANU. My research asks from a political economy perspective how deforestation in Indonesia can be reduced in the face of an array of governance challenges. In particular I am exploring the extent to which surviving oligarchical interests from the New Order period have been able to capture and distort government efforts to address deforestation and forest emissions.