December 19, 2019

Govt prioritizing environmental recovery in new capital concessions

JAKARTA ( - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has reaffirmed that her ministry is continuing to move forward with its strategic role in building the nation’s new capital in parallel with efforts to recover and protect the environment.

The minister said that this was an order from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo delivered to her while conducting a ground-level observation of the new capital’s location in parts of North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara regencies in East Kalimantan (Dec 18).

Some of the new capital is to be situated in part of a pulpwood concession controlled by the APRIL group. A portion of this concession, almost 60% the size of Singapore, has been sliced off by Minister Nurbaya, as reported earlier by (Oct 31).

The minister also said that President Jokowi has asked her to ensure that the new capital’s development is in line with efforts to protect wildlife habitats, especially those of the Bornean orangutan and Proboscis Monkey.

"Recovering the natural vegetation and handling former mines are also priorities laid down by the President,” the minister explained.

The following are photos from the field observation of the new capital’s location (Dec 18), in which Minister Nurbaya is seen discussing the ground-level progress with the President, especially with regard to environmental recovery and spatial plans, as well as other relevant issues.

Message to Al Gore

In his speech at the Indonesia Pavilion at the COP 25 Climate Conference in Madrid, former US Vice President Al Gore, among other things, addressed the issue of the relocation of Indonesia’s capital, highlighting numerous potential consequences of this move, particularly as they relate to the environment and climate change.

Minister Nurbaya responded by explaining that the design of the new capital city would use the concepts of a smart city and forest city, such that environmental concerns would be a mainstream issue at the forefront of all planning and decision making.

"Nobody, including Al Gore, needs to worry about anything as the new capital is being developed, at every stage, in adherence to the theme of environmental recovery,” she pointed out.

"We are not closing our eyes to the existing situation on the ground. In fact, we are dealing with it all. The building of this new capital city is a big move, and in implementing it environmental concerns will not be placed on the back row - on the contrary, they will form one of our primary focuses," she added. 

Minister Nurbaya reassured stakeholders of all levels, including NGOs, that all their concerns would serve as input which would inspire the Government to make improvisations where necessary. She was adamant, nonetheless, that efforts to relocate the capital will not be slowed down or stopped. 

"All plans are integrated in such a way that environmental concerns are one of the main drivers. All processes have clear and measurable timeframes and frameworks which encompass forest and land rehabilitation. The government will not back down from its plan to build a new capital," Minister Nurbaya asserted.