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Meet our Assistant Program Manager for the ASEAN RAI, Hendrietta Retno!

Welcome to the team Retno!

Can you tell us a little about your role and the ASEAN RAI?

The ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (ASEAN RAI) is a regionally-contextualized framework to ensure that private food, agriculture, and forestry investments achieve social, economic and environmental benefits while minimizing negative impacts in the region.

The ASEAN RAI is built upon ten (10) Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles and developed under an Action Plan comprised of the four pillars of work - namely National Legal and Policy Services for ASEAN Member States, creation of a Learning and Accreditation Program (LAP), Regional and National Capacity Building Events, and Investor Engagement and Impact Management.

I’m joining Grow Asia as an Assistant Program Manager. I contribute to the implementation of promoting the ASEAN RAI especially on the Learning and Accreditation Program (LAP). As a learning platform, LAP aims to provide its participants with the resources, skills, contacts and commitment to guide responsible agricultural investment practice across ASEAN. Its curriculum and content are designed for the participant to address regional issues and understand best practices for implementing ASEAN RAI Guidelines.

Over six-months, a cohort from private sector, public sector, and civil society/farmer organizations will build knowledge and skills through collaboration on real-world challenges. Each group will benefit from participation in the LAP. For example, investors will benefit from understanding how responsible Environmental, Social, Economic and Governance (ESG) practices reduce risks in their investments. Communities affected by investments will (a) gain skills and resources to negotiate directly with investors in their region; (b) benefit from presence of trained experts who will ensure consultations are conducted, due diligence processes occur, etc. The LAP uses blended learning program consisting of virtual synchronous and synchronous learning with in-person workshops where COVID-19 regulation allows. Participants will be formally accredited through field-based assessment and may received skills badges that validate new skills learned.

Benefits of the ASEAN RAI Learning and Accreditation Program include:

  1. Access to international best practices in agricultural investing, and case studies from Southeast Asia;

  2. Tools to set specific indicators at a country or project level., across diverse supply chains. The ASENA RAI are linked to 9+ Sustainable Development Goals, and aligned closely to many other voluntary sustainability standards such as FSC, RSPO, etc;

  3. Knowledge on how to apply the 10 ASEAN RAI guidelines to demonstrate voluntary compliance with national policy, sustainability-linked loan criteria, or premium export market requirements;

  4. Training for companies, government and third-party staff to quickly identify areas of risk in supply chain investments.

Could you tell us a little more about yourself and your experience, particularly around responsible agricultural investments?

I have been fortunate to work with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), supporting their research team with partnership building, budgeting, and grant administration for research projects conducted in South America and Africa. Prior to this, I worked on development projects, stakeholder engagement, capacity building and research projects on climate change, forestry, land use and other cross cutting issues in Papua during my time with WWF Indonesia and World Resource Institute (WRI) Indonesia.

During my time with WRI, I was part of regional research team focused on gender and natural resources management in Papua. One research sought to understand of the role of indigenous women and participation in decision-making related to land use, and another study on how to finance forest conservation and improved livelihoods in Papua through existing forestry funding mechanisms and potential funding opportunities and management models.

In addition to that, under Lingkar Belajar Tanah Papua – a learning and knowledge-sharing platform that focused on climate change issues in Tanah Papua - I also organized a series of webinars on Papua’s local food and coffee supply chain, COVID-19 and sustainable development, regional commitment in sustainable development, funding opportunities for forest conservation, and trainings on forest land monitoring.

What excites you most about the ASEAN RAI and your role with Grow Asia?

I am excited to contribute and learn from this role. For me, ASEAN RAI combines my interest and passion in climate change mitigation and adaptation with business sector roles in responsible investment. I am looking forward to seeing and learning from agriculture investment practices in Southeast Asia especially related to tenure rights, natural resources and climate change.

As part of Grow Asia, I am excited to join the network of practitioners, experts, researchers, and other inspiring figures in sustainable agriculture, learn about the key challenges and opportunities in the region, and to contribute to the success of the multi-stakeholder platform’s activities.

What impact do you hope to contribute during your time with Grow Asia?

I believe that building effective solutions and improving the fundamentals of how we work cannot be done single-handedly. It necessitates collaborative multi stakeholder action at the international, national and sub-national level. Through the ASEAN RAI Learning and Accreditation Program (LAP) and other programs I will be involved in, I hope to see our partners undertaking knowledge sharing and programs that shape changes in how investments are made, bringing climate positive impact in the region.

Retno can be reached at To learn more about Retno, you can read her bio here.

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