Climate Change Will Force Indonesia to Change Its Capital

Moving the Indonesian capital from site is neither a caprice nor a political decision: Jakarta, home to more than 10 million people, is sinking to one of the fastest rhythms in the world due to climate change.

If we recently told you that Tehran, with its 15 million inhabitants, plunges 25 centimeters a year or Dubai is becoming an unbearable and hot city -which could end up submerged under the sea-, today it's the turn of the case of another great capital subjected to stress and the disastrous consequences of climate change. We are talking about Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia which, in the words of Bambang Brodjonegoro, will be relocated in another place based on the planning of President Joko Widodo, who recently declared victory in the general elections, although the official results will not be announced. until May 22.

Although the whereabouts of the new capital of the Asian country is still unknown, state media suggest that it could be Palangkaraya, located on the island of Borneo. The idea of ​​moving the capital is not new, but has arisen on more than one occasion since the country achieved independence from the Dutch in 1945. The city has the worst traffic congestion in the world according to a survey of 2016, something that it costs the economy 100 trillion rupees -6,800 million dollars- per year.

The researchers predict that a large part of this megacity could be completely submerged by 2050. The north of Jakarta has sunk two and a half meters in 10 years and continues to average it from 1 to 15 centimeters per year. The city is located on the coast in swampy land, crossed by 13 rivers. In fact, half of Jakarta is already below sea level, due in part to the extraction of groundwater used as drinking water.

Most of Indonesia's wealth is concentrated in Jakarta, and Indonesians living in the east have complained for a long time about being forgotten and neglected by the country's leaders in the expanding capital. Removing the capital from the Java area would send a powerful political message of change. Three options are currently being considered: a special area for government offices within the current capital, transfer to the outskirts of Jakarta or building a new capital on another island.

The main candidate is the city of Palangkaraya, hundreds of kilometers to the northeast in the center of Kalimantan, the part of Borneo that belongs to Indonesia. There exists a polarized opinion about becoming the nation's capital. On the one hand, many of its citizens hope that the change will encourage development and education, but that the land and the forest will be protected from exploitation. In fact, Kalimantan is considered the lung of the world.

"Brazil moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, near the Amazon, and looks at Canberra which is built between Sydney and Melbourne, and Kazakhstan moved its capital closer to the center of the country and also Myanmar moved to Naypyidaw," said the president, committed to disseminate economic development more equitably throughout the country.