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The New Indonesian Capital City Will Be Smart, Green and Clean. Here’s How to Make It into a Reality

The new capital city must absorb whatever it can from its predecessor, especially when it aims to be sustainable.

Tall buildings decorating Jakarta, Indonesia's capital city
President Joko Widodo announced that the capital city will relocate to East Kalimantan province

Source: Tom Fisk [11]

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Jakarta — Jakarta, the heart of Indonesian politics, culture and economics, is rapidly sinking. Almost half of the megacity currently lies under the sea level, with some parts sinking 25cm a year [1].

With a fear of losing Jakarta by 2050, President Joko Widodo announced that Indonesia will relocate its capital city to East Kalimantan province, on the island of Borneo [2]. The 632,850-acre site is four times the size of Jakarta and construction is already underway [3].

The new capital city will reportedly be “smart, green and clean”, with the government making several pledges to preserve the island known for its rainforests and orangutans [2,3].

But like any other successors, the new capital city must absorb whatever it can from its predecessor, especially when it aims to be sustainable.

Preserve the history, build for the future

200,000 people move to Jakarta each year, drawn by and adding to the city’s huge economic expansion. Although the city has earned the reputation as one of the emerging global cities to watch out for, its green spaces have steadily disappeared [4].

“The urbanisation process has been too fast. We cannot keep up,” Oswar Mungkasa, Jakarta’s deputy governor, says [5]

Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration. Frequent floods, pollution and streams of waste are just a few consequences of uncontrolled physical expansion [6]. Combined with the rising demand for groundwater and climate change, it is not surprising to see Jakarta crumbling beneath its concrete surface.

But there is hope on the horizon. In 2015, China launched the Sponge City initiative and reports showed that sponge cities in Xiamen and Wuhan performed effectively during heavy rainfalls [7].


Read also: Making Friends with Water: How Sponge City Can Solve Jakarta's Flooding


With the recent flood in South Kalimantan, it has become more than necessary for the new capital city to include elements that make sponge cities so successful in lowering flood risks, such as semi-permeable pavement, artificial ponds and green rooftops [7,8].

In an interview with Alexander Surya Jaya Tjong, the CEO of PT Mandala Mega Makmur, he also added water pumps as a preventative measure.

But perhaps the most important is conserving the green landscape surrounding East Kalimantan which it has in abundance: rainforests [3].

Orangutan, the famous inhabitant of Borneo Island
The government has made several pledges to preserve the island known for its rainforests and orangutans

Source: Francesco De tommaso [12]

Rainforests are Earth’s oldest living companion and as the Earth’s lungs, they produce around 30% of our oxygen and store huge amounts of carbon dioxide [9]. On top of that, rainforests also house rich biodiversity and maintain the world’s water cycle.


Read also: Moratorium: Will it Save Indonesia from Deforestation?


Clean City Society

In addition to that, the government must also collaborate with private sectors and environmental organizations to facilitate a much better waste management and educate the society on proper waste disposal, which is a big issue and one of the leading causes of floods in Jakarta [10].

Action speaks louder than words. If the new capital city will be “smart, green and clean”, then the government must learn the biggest lesson from Jakarta; that is, technology and nature must co-exist, and the new capital city provides the stage for Indonesia to do so.


What are your thoughts about moving our capital city to East Kalimantan? Join our discussion in our forum here!



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