JAKARTA: Urban Challenges in a Changing Climate

November 3, 2011

November 3, 2011 - At the Mayors' Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and a number of mayors welcomed the formation of a Mayors' Task Force on Climate Change, Disaster Risk and the Urban Poor. At a meeting of the Task Force in April 2010, participating mayors and the World Bank agreed to undertake case studies in four cities – Dar es Salaam, Jakarta, Mexico City and São Paulo. The main aim of these case studies is to take stock and learn from what is happening with regard to urban poverty, climate change and disaster risk management in these cities.

“Jakarta: Urban Challenges in a Changing Climate” – is the report from the case study of Jakarta. The key findings from this report are summarized below:

  • Strong and sustained growth in Jakarta’s population and economy have resulted in a vast increase in the urbanized area, and associated land use change. Between 1980 and 2002, almost one-quarter of the land area of Jakarta was converted from non-urban uses (e.g. agriculture, wetlands) to urban uses for industry, commerce and housing. Undeveloped space in greater Jakarta fell by 60 percent between 1992 and 2005.
  • Jakarta’s rapid growth and urbanization have given rise to large-scale infrastructure problems that are acknowledged and analyzed by the Jakarta government, and experienced regularly by the public. These include urban sprawl, massive traffic congestion, informal settlements, widespread flooding, lack of clean water and solid waste management services, and land subsidence.
  • Jakarta is now highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change. The greatest climate and disaster-related risk facing Jakarta is flooding, which imposes very high human and economic costs on the city. Forty percent of the city’s area, mostly in the north, already lies below sea level, and is thus vulnerable to tidal flooding, storm surges, and future rises in sea-levels. Both total rainfall and the intensity of rainfall events have increased, while rising global temperatures and the urban heat island effect have increased average temperatures.
  • Jakarta’s poor are productive and integral members of the city’s economy, and are the most vulnerable to flood-related risks. They are also highly resourceful and adaptive, with many actions taking place at the individual or community level. Jakarta has a vast informal economy that provides the unskilled labor on which the city’s formal economy depends. Official statistics indicate that 3.48 percent of Jakarta’s residents – over 312,180 people – fall below the poverty line. Living on the coast and along waterways, they are physically vulnerable to injury and property loss, and economically vulnerable as their livelihoods and employment are mostly based in these same areas.
  • The urban poor have important roles to play in addressing Jakarta’s vulnerability to climate change and disasters. With relatively low incomes, the Jakarta’s poor are not large consumers of energy, and contribute little to the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, urbanization pressures have led the poor to settle informally in dense, but tenuously constructed housing. Any sustainable solution to flooding in Jakarta will need to address these issues with the active cooperation of local communities.
  • The government of Jakarta has started taking action on climate change, but much remains to be done to mainstream climate change across all sectors for the long term. Major infrastructure investments to reduce vulnerability include large flood canals and sea walls along the coast. There is a great deal more to be done in terms of planning for the future and preparing for climate-related disasters within communities and improving and updating government policies.
  • A few basic principles can guide the way forward for addressing climate change, disaster risk and urban poverty in Jakarta. First, climate change adaptation should be not so much an additional challenge to be layered onto existing policies and planning priorities, but rather an opportunity for the Jakarta government and key partners to gather their focus and priorities for the future. Policies and investments should be based on improved information, including quantitative data and an understanding of community-level actions and adaptive capacities. Finally, enhanced collaboration – with the administrations of neighboring provinces, as well as with the local communities as active participants and partners – is crucial to the success of long-term action.