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Pekalongan Green Batik: From Tradition To Innovation

Empowering batik communities in Pekalongan through collaborative efforts, local knowledge, and understanding of the underlying issues to sustain and improve local livelihood through a more sustainable batik production.

Batik has been recognised as an icon of Indonesian culture for centuries. The colourful, painted fabrics with their beautiful intricate designs are known worldwide. From ministers to teachers, office workers and children: everyone in Indonesia owns a piece of Batik. But also outside Indonesia, batik has a huge following and continues to inspire fashion designers around the world.

The origins of batik in Indonesia go back to the 17th century. Initially started as a pastime activity, the craftsmanship of batik painting has been passed down for generations. While batik is produced across the Indonesian archipelago, the city of Pekalongan on the north coast of Central Java stands out as the undisputed ‘Capital of Batik’.

Unfortunately, anyone visiting Pekalongan today will immediately see the ‘ugly side’ of batik: traditional production methods are causing huge environmental damage, and dangerous labour conditions harm workers’ health. Adding to this, batik production consumes enormous amounts of water, energy, dyes and fabrics, which are all unsustainably sourced and exploited.

Making matters worse, a lack of modern-day business skills, poor marketing and weak entrepreneurship, have caused most of the Pekalongan’s 1,500+ batik producers to live on the edge of poverty, hurting their ability to invest and innovate and making batik a poor prospect for younger generations.

Towards Green Batik

Anything positive? Yes! As The Water Agency has been active in Pekalongan for the past two years, we see more and more awareness and willingness to transform the batik sector to become more sustainable. People start talking about “Green Batik”. Initiatives (though small and scattered) are coming from all sides: national and local government, the local batik community itself, universities, NGOs, etc.
Green Batik Goals by The Water Agency

Considering all the initiative’s objectives, communities’ optimism, and hopes for the Batik future, it was analysed that this movement needed 12 Green Batik Goals that act as the main guidance to reach the primary objective, the Green Batik. 

The challenge now—which we are ready to embrace—is to bring all these organisations, people and initiatives together as part of a coherent transformation program that gives the people of Pekalongan, and Batik, a new, sustainable outlook to the future. Working together with our growing group of partners, The Green Batik Project is ready to go!

Lead Partner

Project Partners

Collaborating for Success: Our Trusted Project Partners