Indonesia prepares to pack up capital city and move to a new island

Government plans to move Jakarta away from overcrowding and the effects of climate change

Jakarta floods by International Rivers

Jakarta floods by International Rivers

The Indonesian government is considering relocating its capital city to a bigger island because Java is becoming increasingly vulnerable to  flooding and other effects of global warming, Indonesia’s chief climate change negotiator has said.

Up to 60 million people will have to be relocated from a number of the major Javanese coastal cities in the next 20 years as a result of increased flooding and stormier weather, said Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia’s chief climate negotiator in an interview with at the global climate talks in Tianjin last week.

Specifically, the overcrowded capital city of Jakarta might also be moved to Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, he said. Jakarta is already suffering from increased flooding and one major road has been demolished by the encroaching sea.

“There is a thought to move the capital city to Palankaraya, in Kalimantan,” said Witoelar. “And Kalimantan is 20 times the size of Java, with only one fiftieth of the population.”

“We can see the dangers of climate change and the difficulty of maintaining life as it is if we don’t recognise the dangers. So we are trying to get to grips with the problems.”

The government is also planning to bring in new laws which  oblige the state to look after displaced citizens he added.

However, critics of the plan warn that moving to Kalimanten will demolish the Javanese power base, so the small town of Jonggol in West Java is another site on the cards.

Kalimantan from

Kalimantan from

Apart from suffering the brunt of global warming, Indonesia is the world’s third highest greenhouse gas emitter, after the United States and China, as a result of deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires, following the United States and China.

Earlier this year, the World Bank approved a $200m loan to the government of Indonesia to support its climate change policies.


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