Amid Increasing Congestion and Pollution, Indonesia to Relocate Capital City | Sojourners

Amid Increasing Congestion and Pollution, Indonesia to Relocate Capital City

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia is moving forward with a plan to relocate the country’s capital city.

Jakarta, the current capital city, has sunk about 13 feet in the last 30 years, according to the World Economic Forum. Widodo plans to move the capital away from the crowded island of Java.

"We want to think in a visionary way for the progress of this country, and moving the capital requires thorough and detailed preparation," he said.

The plan, which has been in the works for years, comes amid reports of growing congestion, increasing pollution, and climate change threatening the city of more than 10 million people. Widodo announced his decision to move forward on Monday, but he has not yet settled on a new location for the capital city. He says the process could take up to 10 years.

Leaders in Indonesia have discussed the idea of changing the capital’s location off and on for decades, ever since the country gained its independence from the Dutch in 1945. The renewed sense of urgency comes as the city reaches what Bloomberg calls “total gridlock” alongside climate-related flooding and sinking problems.

A Gizmodo article reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands classifies the city as highly vulnerable and says it could be permanently flooded by 2050 as sea levels rise. The city has also been pulling groundwater for human use, further reducing the region’s elevation, according to the Asean Post .

According to Gizmodo , moving the Indonesian capital elsewhere won’t help the people who are unable to leave, reflecting a global reality that has cropped up in recent decades: Those who will be most affected by climate change are also those who did the least to contribute to it and who have the fewest resources to adapt.

Reuters reporting contributed to this story.

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