On Monday, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, announced a plan to build a new capital city on the island of Borneo. The plan is in response to Jakarta’s formidable environmental challenges. It suffers from some of the worst air quality in the world and is struggling with a severe subsidence problem, which, I understand, is partially (or largely) a result of climate change and the unregulated extraction of groundwater.
About 40% of the city now sits below sea level and the worst affected areas are supposedly sinking at up to 20cm per year. This gives Jakarta the dubious distinction of being the fastest sinking big city. On top of this, it is also one of the biggest cities in the world in terms of population. The Jakarta megalopolis has over 30 million people, placing it 2nd after Tokyo according to this list.
Here’s a short video from the BBC that will give you some visuals to go along with the above. These are the sorts of urban challenges that will make you forget all about separated bike lanes and 45 degree angular planes. And they are not entirely unique to Jakarta. If you can’t see the video below, click here.