World Cities United to Save Delta Settlements

By January 21, 2013Article, news


The four-day World Delta Summit, involving participation from individuals, business communities and the government, concluded on Thursday with representatives agreeing to tackle the inundation plaguing delta and coastal areas around the world.

Representatives from 40 cities including Copenhagen, New Orleans, Toronto, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, London, Madrid said in a joint statement that partnership between the private sector and the government was not enough to handle the inundation problems which were worsening due to rising seas.

“The ideal strategy to save coastal areas from permanent inundation should accommodate a partnership between the public and private sectors and the people,” said chairman of the summit Jan Sopaheluwakan.

The statement was also concerned about the exploitation of natural resources in delta areas without considering its adverse impact on the environment.

“Look at how people in North Jakarta excessively exploit ground water for business, industrial and domestic needs and cause land subsidence problems,” he said.

In spite of the important role played by individuals, Jan said that government remained the key player in the issue.

The government should come up with spatial planning that took into account budget constraints, land conflict and disaster management.

The Delta Summit, hosted by the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, enlisted the participation of top scientists from 40 countries to discuss ways to stop inundation causing the disappearance of delta cities. Another summit is slated for 2013 in Jakarta.

Meanwhile, another team of experts has also agreed that “real and systematic action” is needed to prevent the city’s coastal areas from being completely inundated in the near future.

The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) professor on oceanography Safwan Hadi said that if no action was taken to deal with rising sea levels, many parts of Jakarta would be permanently under water by 2030.

“If we don’t act quickly, areas like Penjaringan, Tanjung Priok, Koja, Kampung Melayu, Tambora, Grogol Petamburan and Taman Sari will be submerged in less than 20 years,” he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of a seminar on climate change in Jakarta.

Penjaringan, Tanjung Priok and Koja are located in North Jakarta, while Tambora, Grogol Petamburan, Taman Sari are in West Jakarta. Kampung Melayu is a dense residential area in East Jakarta.

“In other words, in 2030 Jakartans may have to forget about going to Ancol [in North Jakarta] for weekend trips because it will no longer be there,” he said.

Inundation in these areas could also prevent Jakarta from functioning properly as a city as much of its vital infrastructure was there, he said.

The city has a gasoline depot in Plumpang, North Jakarta as well as power stations in Tanjung Priok, Muara Karang and Muara Tawar.

The three power stations supply 53 percent of the city’s electricity demand, including that of the State Palace, the National Monument, the Thamrin-Sudirman area in Central Jakarta, Senayan and the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Some 40 percent of Jakarta is located below sea level. The city’s land level decreases by 2.5 cm every year, due to excessive use of ground water, while the sea level increases by 5 mm annually.

The city administration has proposed building various flood-prevention measures including the construction of a polder system, a vast coastal area reclamation project dubbed the “giant sea wall”, and a city-wide drainage system.

University of Hawaii urban planning expert Kem Lowry said that rather than thinking about big solutions the city, should find more practical solutions.

“Public participation is the most important thing for short-term solutions; small, easy steps that everyone can do, like keeping the drains clean,”he said. (lfr/mim)

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