Why is Indonesia transferring its capital from Jakarta to Borneo?


JAKARTA, Indonesia — Jakarta is congested, polluted, vulnerable to earthquakes and quickly sinking into the Java Sea. Now the federal government is within the means of leaving, transferring Indonesia’s capital to the island of Borneo.

Indonesian officers say the brand new metropolis can be a “sustainable forest city” that places the atmosphere on the coronary heart of the event and goals to be carbon-neutral by 2045.

But environmentalists warn that the capital will trigger large deforestation, threaten the habitat of endangered species comparable to orangutans and imperil the houses of Indigenous communities.

While entry to the brand new capital’s website is normally restricted, The Associated Press was allowed to tour elements of the positioning to view building progress in early March.

Here’s a take a look at why the capital is transferring, the federal government’s plans and why activists are apprehensive about the way it will affect the atmosphere, endangered species and Indigenous communities situated close to the venture website.


Jakarta is residence to about 10 million folks and 3 times that quantity within the better metropolitan space. It has been described because the world’s most quickly sinking metropolis, and on the present price, it’s estimated that one-third of town may very well be submerged by 2050. The major trigger is uncontrolled floor water extraction, but it surely has been exacerbated by the rising Java Sea as a result of local weather change.

Its air and groundwater are closely polluted, it floods usually and its streets are so clogged that it’s estimated congestion prices the economic system $4.5 billion a yr.

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President Joko Widodo envisions the development of a brand new capital as a nostrum for the issues plaguing Jakarta, lowering its inhabitants whereas permitting the nation to begin contemporary with a “sustainable city.”


Widodo’s plan to ascertain town of Nusantara — an outdated Javanese time period that means “archipelago” — will entail establishing authorities buildings and housing from scratch. Initial estimates have been that over 1.5 million civil servants could be relocated to town, some 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) northeast of Jakarta, although ministries and authorities businesses are nonetheless working to finalize that quantity.

Bambang Susantono, head of the Nusantara National Capital Authority mentioned that the brand new capital metropolis will apply the “forest city” idea, with 65% of the realm being reforested.

The metropolis is anticipated to be inaugurated on Aug. 17 subsequent yr to coincide with Indonesia’s Independence Day. New capital authorities mentioned that the ultimate levels of town, nonetheless, possible received’t be accomplished till 2045, marking the nation’s hundredth anniversary.


Skeptics fear, nonetheless, concerning the environmental affect of constructing a sprawling 256,000-hectare (990-square-mile) metropolis down in Borneo’s East Kalimantan province, which is residence to orangutans, leopards and a big selection of different wildlife.

Forest Watch Indonesia, an Indonesian nongovernmental group that screens forestry points, warned in a November 2022 report that a lot of the forested areas within the new capital are “production forests” that means permits may very well be granted for forestry and extractive actions that may result in additional deforestation. Until now there was no certainty relating to the safety standing of the remaining pure forests within the new capital metropolis space, the report mentioned.

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Data evaluation from AP additionally confirmed that the area can count on extra days of utmost warmth in years to come back.


At least 5 villages with greater than 100 Indigenous Balik persons are relocating due to the development, with extra villages anticipated to be uprooted because the constructing website expands.

The authorities mentioned the brand new capital has obtained help from area people leaders, and has offered compensation to folks whose land is getting used for town.

But Sibukdin, an Indigenous chief who like many within the nation solely makes use of one identify and lives in Sepaku, a ward very near the development space, mentioned group members felt compelled to take the cash they have been provided by the federal government with out figuring out how compensation is calculated or if it was truthful, he mentioned.

AP photographer Achmad Ibrahim and videographer Fadlan Syam contributed to this report from East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Associated Press local weather and environmental protection receives help from a number of non-public foundations. See extra about AP’s local weather initiative right here. The AP is solely liable for all content material.

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