My Balinese heritage strongly influences my interest, as it emphasizes an inseparable connection between humans, nature, and the creator in our daily lives.
Interview With Dr. Catrini Pratihari Kubontubuh, Chairperson of SEACHA-Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Alliance

This interview was conducted by Selva Ozelli


How did you become interested in environmentally sustainable architecture and conservation and where did you study?

I am an urban planner and architect with a focus on culture and environmental sustainability. My Balinese heritage strongly influences my interest, as it emphasizes an inseparable connection between humans, nature, and the creator in our daily lives. I received my master's degree in Architecture from K.U. Leuven in Belgium. My bachelor's degrees in urban planning and my doctoral degree in Architecture were both obtained from the Institute of Technology Bandung in Indonesia.

Tell us about Southeast Asian Culture Heritage Alliance (SEACHA) and the vision that created this organization.

SEACHA is a coalition of Southeast Asian civil society organizations engaged in cultural heritage conservation work. Founded in 2019 in Thailand, its vision is to promote effective government-community partnerships in cultural heritage management in Southeast Asia, strengthen the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community as a people-centered third pillar of ASEAN, and serve as a networking forum between ASEAN member organizations. I have been the Chairperson of SEACHA since 2022.

Tell us about the members of SEACHA, its mission and its partners.

Eight civil society organizations from ASEAN countries formed SEACHA. These include The Siam Society under Royal Patronage, The Indonesian Heritage Trust, The Penang Heritage Trust, The Yangon Heritage Trust, The Heritage Conservation Society of the Philippines, The Singapore Heritage Society, the Centre for Research and Promotion of Cultural Heritage of Vietnam, and Lao Sericulture and Agroecology Promotion (Mulberries). SEACHA welcomes other ASEAN civil society organizations to join its founding members. Officially registered in Thailand in December 2021, SEACHA has spent the last three years promoting cultural heritage across ASEAN nations. Its mission is to develop indigenous Southeast Asian concepts of cultural heritage protection and initiate programs to promote cultural heritage protection in the region.

Tell us about the Indonesian Heritage Trust, its mission and its partners.

I have been the Chairperson of the Indonesian Heritage Trust (Bumi Pelestarian Pusaka Indonesia) since 2013. This non-profit organization serves as a melting pot for heritage practitioners, advocates, and enthusiasts from various backgrounds. Formed in 2004 in Jakarta by members of local heritage organisations around Indonesia and academicians from universities. Its mission is to safeguard the conservation of Indonesian heritage, actualizing Indonesia as a cultured and dignified society through historical, cultural, and civilizational records.

Tell us about the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO), its mission and its partners.

INTO is a global network of heritage organizations. Launched in 2007 at the Delhi conference, it has evolved from an informal collective to a leading authority on the National Trust movement. INTO's mission is to conserve global heritage—built, natural, tangible, and intangible—through expertise exchange, best practice promotion, and resource sharing. As a member of the Board of Executive Committee from 2010-2021, I contributed to supporting new trusts and engaging in key heritage sector conservations.

Tiger rehabilitation project

Tell us about Arsari Djojohadikusumo Foundation and its mission and your views on the impact of climate change on children and low income families in Indonesia.

The Arsari Djojohadikusumo Foundation was established in early 2006 by Hashim Djojohadikusumo and his family in Jakarta. It focuses on social causes and education, as well as culture and nature conservation, including wildlife rehabilitation. Serving as the Executive Director from 2013 until August 2023, I observed the foundation's significant impact in promoting the nation's awareness of their historical roots and environmental respect.

In my view, the impact of climate change on Indonesian children and low-income families is severe, leading to more extreme weather, increased pollution, natural disasters, dwindling natural resources, diseases, stress, and displacement. Thus, education plays a vital role in providing an understanding of how to maintain a balanced take-and-give relationship between humanity and nature.

Tell us about how you got involved with Climate Heritage Network.

I was invited as a speaker at the Climate Heritage Network's Asia-Pacific Regional Climate Heritage Forum in 2020 as part of Climate Heritage Week 2020. Subsequently, the Indonesian Heritage Trust joined CHN in 2021. As chairperson of SEACHA, we continue to collaborate with CHN, supporting Culture at COP28.

Tell us about your COP28 platform and your contributions to the establishment of "Group of Friends of Culture-Based Climate Action" which launched at COP28.

At COP28, I participated as a speaker and moderator in panels discussing ancestral wisdom, urban culture, and harmony of culture in climate action. My contribution to the Group of Friends of Culture-Based Climate Action (GFCBCA) included assigning Moe Moe Lwin, Vice Chairperson of SEACHA, as co-chair of the Culture at COP28 Working Group. We plan to continue this work through pilots and further research in our SEACHA member countries.

Discussion at COP28

You are involved with architectural conservation and heritage on a global, regional and local level with a view for the future. Tell us about how you got involved with all these organizations and the synergies these collaborations bring about.

With over 25 years of experience in culture and natural heritage conservation, I have developed a network spanning local to global levels. My involvement has included 6 years working at The World Bank, trained as Climate Reality Leader by Al Gore institution on 2020, and actively participating as an expert and organizer in several influential institutions, continuously learning and sharing experiences.

Anything else you would like to add.

I also run programs for youth in my home village in Bali through The Bali Kuna Santi Foundation – Jero Tumbuk, established 23 years ago. The foundation aims to maintain the balance of nature and culture conservation by teaching Balinese traditional practices to village children and others interested in applying these traditions in modern life.

How can people reach you?

I can be reached at [email protected]. Additionally, I am active on Instagram and Facebook @catriniari.


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