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A city worthy of an avatar |  Journalism

A city worthy of an avatar | Journalism

Indonesia's new capital, Nusantara, promises to be a modern, eco-friendly and smart “forest city”. The imagination of many urban planners…


You can't get out of hell into heaven easily. But with a lot of money and serious political will, anything is possible. He spoke with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is preparing to inaugurate the new capital, Nusantara, built in the middle of the jungle, 2,000 kilometers from the current capital.

It's an ambitious project, to be sure, but it seems justified.

Jakarta, with a population of 10 million, has become overpopulated and highly polluted. Its geographical location makes the city particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. Not to mention that it continues to sink, due to the rising water levels and the uncontrolled pumping of its groundwater. It is estimated that by 2025, a third of the city will be submerged.

Photo of Dita Alangkara, associated press archive

A boy walks beside a polluted canal in a slum in Jakarta.

In addition to these structural and environmental issues, there are economic issues. By moving the administrative center to the geographically central island of Borneo, the government wants to promote a better redistribution of wealth, which is currently mainly concentrated on the island of Java, where Jakarta is located.

Photo by Siah Endo, Shutterstock Archives

“Point Zero” (Titik Nul in Indonesian) in Nusantara, where construction of the new capital began, in March 2022.

The new capital was announced in 2019, and is scheduled to open on August 17, Indonesia's National Day. This is perhaps the most important legacy of Joko Widodo, who is preparing to leave his place to his successor, Prabowo Subianto, after 10 years in power.

The city, which is still under construction, plans to welcome its first 10,000 government employees in September, then 1.9 million people in the long term.

An amazing move for an equally amazing project.

Photo by Edgar So, Reuters archive

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

Judging by the marketing campaigns accompanying this project, Nusantara will be more than just a capital. Excited about his 'baby', Joko Widodo speaks instead of a 'new state of mind' from Indonesia, focused on the future and the planet.

On paper, Nusantara already has all the attributes of a futuristic paradise, capable of making architects, city planners and even the lowest ecologists imagine.

Nusantara is built in the East Kalimantan region, in the Indonesian part of Borneo, on an area of ​​2,500 km2 which must leave ample room for nature, and presents itself as a “smart forest city”, designed with a global environmental perspective.

With a promise to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, the new capital plans to rely 100% on renewable energies, operate 80% by public transportation (with raised sidewalks supposed to facilitate traffic) and reserve at least 65% of its land for green space.

We are also talking about 60% recycled waste and an underground network to dispose of the rest. Not to mention the administrative buildings that will embrace Indonesian traditions and mythology, while respecting the surrounding jungle.

“With Nusantara, we will set new standards of living,” summed up Bambang Susantono, head of the new National Capital Authority, echoing President Jojo Widodo’s speech.

The gradual birth of this project must pass through five stages. The city is scheduled to be officially “completed” in 2045, the centenary of Indonesia's birth. But this ambitious project, estimated to cost $35 billion, may be too good to be true.

Behind its inspiring green curtain, this is a city straight out of a movie symbol picture It is far from unanimous.

273.5 million

Indonesia population

17000

Number of islands in the Indonesian archipelago

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