By Stacey Leasca
August 26, 2019
Indonesia chooses new area for capital city as Jakarta sinks.
Left: BNI building in the Business district of Jakarta. Right: An area around Samboja, Kutai Kartanegara, one of two locations proposed by the government for Indonesia's new capital.
| Credit: Getty Images; AFP/Getty Images

Indonesia is getting a new capital city thanks to climate change.

On Monday, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo announced his country’s plan to build an entirely new capital city from scratch as their current one, Jakarta, is sinking.

"As a large nation that has been independent for 74 years, Indonesia has never chosen its own capital," Widodo said in a televised speech, according to AFP. "The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade, and services."

Indonesia chooses new area for capital city as Jakarta sinks.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (C) gestures next to Vice President Jusuf Kalla (R) and Minister of Agriculture and Land-Planning Sofyan Djalil (L) during a press conference about the new capital, at the presidential palace in Jakarta on August 26, 2019.
| Credit: GAGAH ADHAPUTRA/Getty Images

The new capital’s location, CNN reported, lies within the midst of the jungle on the island of Borneo, close to the cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda.

“The government has conducted in-depth studies and we have intensified the studies in the past three years,” Joko added. “The result of those studies shows that the most ideal location for the new capital is part of North Penajam Paser Regency and part of Kutai Kartanegara Regency in East Kalimantan.”

The cost to move the capital? About 486 trillion rupiah, or $34 billion, CNN reported. According to Joko, about 19 percent of that money would come from the government and the rest would come from private investors.

Widodo is well aware of just how costly an endeavor moving an entire capital city will be. However, due to the fact that Jakarta is sinking, with some areas sinking more than two inches per year, he really has no choice.

According to CNN, the sinking is partly due to the fact that Jakarta is built on swampy ground, but also because of its proximity to the sea, which makes the city a prime spot for flooding.

Indonesia chooses new area for capital city as Jakarta sinks.
Indonesia has chosen the eastern edge of jungle-clad Borneo island for its new capital, President Joko Widodo said on August 26, 2019, as the country looks to shift its political heart away from congested megalopolis Jakarta.
| Credit: FACHMI RACHMAN/Getty Images

Beyond flooding, CNN also noted, the city’s air pollution is making it nearly unlivable for its 10 million citizens.

Building a new capital, The New York Times reported, will require the nation to construct new ministry buildings, housing for workers, as well as a new official presidential residence. Construction, the paper noted, could begin as early as 2021 and be completed by 2024, just as Joko’s second term comes to an end.

The new city has yet to be named, but already critics are taking aim at where the government wants to move. Borneo, The World Wildlife Fund explained, is one of the most “biologically diverse habitats on Earth, possessing staggeringly high numbers of unique plants and animals.” However, those animals are already under threat due to deforestation for the island’s plywood, hardwoods, and wood products, as well as for crops like palm oil, which specifically threaten the delicate orangutang population.

But this may be something the government has already (hopefully) thought of. As planning minister Bambang Brodjonegoro was overheard saying, “We will not disturb any existing protected forest, instead we will rehabilitate it.”