Leipzig, Germany. Indonesia has skipped an opportunity to exchange information and experience with the international community at the International Transport Forum 2015 Summit in Leipzig, Germany.
Indonesia, the largest economy in the Southeast Asia, was invited to join the 54-member forum this year, as well as last year, and former deputy transportation minister, Bambang Susantono, said the previous government had intended to join the grouping, which serves as a think tank for global policy issues.
Under the new administration of President Joko Widodo, however, no Indonesian officials attended the event, which opened on Wednesday and include a meeting of transportation ministers from around the globe.
Jose Viegas, the International Transport Forum (ITF) secretary general, said he had invited Indonesia’s new minister Ignatius Jonan to attend, but Ignatius had said he was still new to the job and getting acquainted with the forum's mandate.
"He was taking a positive perspective from what he was learning about ITF," Viegas said on the sidelines of the event on Wednesday.
But Viegas said the Indonesian government had missed an opportunity to meet with transportation ministers from around the globe.
"A lot of knowledge is not lost because we produce a report, even though it will come a little later.
"But it is not for me to judge if he decided to stay in the country. Even half of our members do not have their ministers here due to other things in their countries like elections," he said.
Still, Viegas said Indonesia would gain a lot from other members of the forum."Indonesia is certainly qualified in the two key criteria: a large economy and a situation by which its nature and location makes it very relevant for international transport policy.
"ITF will also gain by having Indonesia as a member, this is something that I want to convey to the minister and I will discuss the things we are doing and what we can offer to the member countries," he said, adding that he plans to visit Indonesia and meet the transportation minister this year.
J.A. Barata, a spokesman for the transportation ministry, did not respond to inquiries as to why Indonesia had no sent a representative.
Michael Kloth, the head of communication at ITF, said the organization is looking forward to Indonesia joining.
He gave the example of Indonesia and Norway, who despite being two very different countries can learn from each other as both have long coast lines and remote islands.
"Both can learn how to provide transport for people living in the remote areas," he said.
Kloth said for a country to join it needs to write a letter stating its interest and pay a fee formulated on the size of its gross domestic product. Finally, existing members have to approve.
"We are an organization that has European roots, but we can learn a lot from a country that has large population growth like Indonesia. [We] can learn on infrastructure, public transport and road safety. That knowledge sharing is a two-way street," he said.
Trade and tourism
Held annually in Germany's city of industry, Leipzig, this year's conference focuses on measures to establish an effective transport system that would boost trade and tourism.
Ban called sustainable transport "a common thread" linking the upcoming UN Summit in September in New York and the COP21 climate change conference in Paris in December, where governments will seek to agree on concrete actions to limit the effects of global warming.