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Urban development against nature: take a look at Indonesia’s example

Jiwoo, British School Jakarta, Indonesia

In April of 2024, I visited the Indonesia Museum, located in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a major tourist attraction of Jakarta. The third floor of this museum was about moving the capital from Jakarta to Nusantara, a future city of Kalimantan. As a resident of Jakarta, I was quite taken aback by this news.

When I was scanning through the exhibition, I noticed that it only showed the benefits of moving the capital. From then I wondered: is changing the capital from Jakarta to Nusantara really advantageous for all of us and the environment?

It is proven that Jakarta, the current capital of Indonesia, is actually sinking rapidly. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), about 95% of North Jakarta would be underwater by 2050. Local people of Jakarta are sucking up groundwater indiscriminately, not realising how this can affect the sea level.

Furthermore, almost 56% of Indonesia’s population is focused on the Java island, where Jakarta is located, resulting in overpopulation. This can lead to many issues such as heavy traffic and air pollution.

The Indonesian government is aiming to finish the construction for the new capital by 2045. However, during the process, it is predicted that a lot of sacrifices will be made, such as losing the rainforests which cover 40.8 million hectares and Borneo orangutans. This species is already under a great peril; a lot of them dwell outside of the protected areas, making it difficult to ensure that they are in a safe condition. Moreover, environmental activists point out the fact that even if the capital city is moved to Kalimantan, it would not be able to escape from the rising of the sea level and any other natural disasters.

So what should we do about it? Should we consider the problems that us humans are facing as more important and neglect the threats that other valuable beings are in? With our population increasing, we cannot always protect the rainforests as we will need the space for us to live. Then what will happen to the precious animals? Will they be able to survive?

Answering these questions, Indonesia’s current president, Joko Widodo pledged that the government will create a “smart city in the forest.” Nevertheless, we cannot be sure if the safety of the animals is guaranteed. So I strongly believe that we should all keep an eye on Indonesia’s government – for both us and our planet – and always remind ourselves that the future of this planet is in our hands.

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