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The Subak Traditional Irrigation System as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Governing Bali’s Changing Landscapes

The Subak Traditional Irrigation System as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Governing Bali’s Changing Landscapes

Speaker: Ms. Wiwik Dharmiasih

Date & Time: 1 December, 1:00pm-2:00pm HST

Join Zoom Meeting:

(Meeting ID: 959 6059 2980 | Passcode: 369797)


Subak is a traditional irrigation and water management system that has existed for over a thousand years in Bali as an autonomous locally rooted institution. This unique system controls water allocation and resources distribution of farming resources, and is most commonly associated with the expansive rice terraces featured on travel brochures for “The Island of the Gods.” In addition, subak represents Bali’s Tri Hita Karana, an islandwide philosophy rooted in maintaining balance and harmony between people, nature, and the spiritual realm. However, increasing demand for water and land in Bali due to the growing tourism industry has threatened the existence of the subak system. By the early 2000s, concerted efforts to protect the subak by the Indonesian national government and Bali province resulted in its nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite its designation in 2012, the subak system continues to face tourism and development pressures. In this presentation, I will describe local perspectives on protecting the subak within the World Heritage Site and the continued challenges to the community. I will focus on the changing institutions of cultural and state-based institutions, tensions between conservation and development, and the impacts on water.

Wiwik Dharmiasih is a lecturer in the Department of International Relations, Universitas Udayana and a research associate at Dala Institute in Bali, Indonesia. She is actively engaged with World Heritage Watch, a network focused on protection, management, and conservation of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ms. Dharmiasih’s research focuses on Political Geography, Conflict Transformation, and Community-based Natural Resources Management. She is a practitioner committed to supporting the management of Bali’s Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. She has also worked on climate change adaptation initiatives involving local perspectives of change and supported disaster risk reduction efforts, with a special focus on issues related to water equity, youth, and women. She earned her B.A. in International Relations from the Universitas Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Yogyakarta in Indonesia, and an M.A. in Politics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India.

Hosted by the UH Water Resources Research Center.

For more info, contact: or go here.


Dec 01 2021


Time stated in HST.
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

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