August 2014 was a ripe period for conversations about the future of Indonesia. In July, the country had held a successful election that saw a new government come to power, which during its transition period was urgently exploring the country’s most important opportunities and challenges. One crucial domain was the country’s energy sector and the many national and international trends that would affect the country’s social, political, and economic evolution.
In this context of government institutions, energy companies, and communities facing an uncertain future, the Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) invited 28 leaders from across the energy sector to participate in a strategic conversation about this situation, in which they are stakeholders, and the actions they might take to address the future of energy in Indonesia. The participants included representatives from state-owned enterprises, private companies, and civil society organisations including Greenpeace, along with researchers, politicians, and public servants. Shell Indonesia and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a German foundation, provided resources for the project. The result is the Bandung Scenarios—four scenarios of possible futures of Indonesia’s energy system.
The 28 participants came together in the mountain city of Bandung over two weekends in August. During the first weekend, they discussed key certainties and uncertainties in the system that they thought required attention: inefficient energy use and increasing energy demand, challenges related to energy sector governance and management, the need for a national energy plan and a road map to energy security, infrastructure for energy distribution, the transition to renewables, and energy subsidies. During the second weekend, the team used their deeper shared understanding of the sector to co-create four stories about how it could—not how it would or should—evolve over the next 15 years.
Each of the four scenarios emphasizes a different key dynamic in the system and how it could play out between now and 2030. Together, the scenarios provide a useful tool to help stakeholders consider possible futures and what these imply both for the country and for their organisations.
The first scenario, Waves, is represented by a boat trying to navigate rough seas, whereby every movement forward is met with resistance. Efforts to reform the energy system—particularly the mix of available energy resources and the level of central government energy subsidies—prove difficult to implement because of an entrenched bureaucracy.
The second scenario, Storm, shows a boat entering bad weather and attempting to change its sails to adapt. This scenario focuses on climate change and its implications for the future of Indonesia and its energy sector. The country struggles to meet increasing energy demand while also seeking to curb carbon emissions.
The third scenario, Rocks, depicts a boat steering through large rock formations. This scenario suggests that adept leadership will be required to navigate an increasingly hostile environment in which a shortage of energy resources leads to increased competition and political volatility, globally and in Southeast Asia.
The fourth scenario, Crew, illustrates a boat moving through calmer seas, but its ability to move forward efficiently is compromised by differences in the capacities and skills of members of the crew. In this story, Indonesia’s energy system is decentralised and regions develop their own local energy resources.
The potential of the Bandung Scenarios is in the new insights, relationships, intentions, and capacities that were developed through the team’s collective work. Stakeholder leaders now have a common language for on-going strategic conversations and a shared framework for considering what actions they can, will, and must take. Since the official launch of the Bandung Scenarios in October 2014, scenario team members have started to work together in multiple new ways. The team’s work is being used to bring about a better future for Indonesia.