ClimateSoutheast Asia

Indonesia prioritizes sustainability, security

Gusty Da Costa

Indonesia is confronting security challenges triggered by climate change and the urgent need for sustainability and resilience to protect its population and ensure the effectiveness of its military. This awareness translates into action with a plan to transition from fossil fuels, measures to build resilience into its Armed Forces and the establishment of a new “sustainable forest city” as its capital to replace the sinking city of Jakarta.

“The dangers of climate change can manifest in various forms, from rising sea levels, extreme temperatures, monsoon wind direction, etc.,” Kusnanto Anggoro, a lecturer at the Indonesian Defense University, told FORUM. “What are the consequences? People will suffer many casualties and there will be victims of food crises, social and economic loss, etc. The response should be relocation, enforcement and better technology.”

The government is working with Canada, the European Union, Japan and the United States on a plan for investments, financing and technical assistance to implement an Indonesian energy transition that moves from coal and other fossil fuels to carbon neutrality by 2045.

The six-month project is part of the Just Energy Transition Partnership developed by Indonesia and partners during the nation’s G20 presidency. It was announced at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.

The new capital of Indonesia, dubbed Nusantara, which translates as “archipelago,” is expected to be established in August 2024 on the island of Borneo between Samarinda City and the port city of Balikpapan. Jakarta is rapidly sinking, according to a U.N. report, with one-third of the city likely to be underwater by 2050. Unchecked ground water extraction is the primary culprit, but the rising Java Sea, a result of climate change, is worsening the problem.

Located 15 kilometers inland, Nusantara will be less prone to tropical storms and flooding than Jakarta and on an island with relatively few earthquakes. The new city will feature sustainable architecture and infrastructure, government officials said, along with a thick tree canopy, 65% of which will be reforested after construction. (Pictured: A computer-generated illustration depicts Nusantara, Indonesia’s new capital.)

The future capital will also have resilient defense and security infrastructure, including bases to house 30,000 troops, Khairul Fahmi, a military expert at Indonesia’s Institute of Security and Strategic Studies, told FORUM.

“The primary consideration in developing military facilities and installations is the safety and security of the personnel and the population and the effectiveness of the job implementation, function, and the form of threats,” he said. “By that, resilience to natural disasters like storms, earthquakes, floods, etc., becomes essential in developing military facilities/installations and procurement spending of supporting facilities.”

Similar considerations are necessary throughout the Armed Forces, retired Maj. Gen. Tubagus Hasanuddin, a lawmaker from the Indonesian House of Representatives Commission I, overseeing defense and foreign affairs, told FORUM.

“In the context of climate, there are currently storms, and the storms impact the ups and downs of seawater. If there is a storm, the type of weapons used must adapt; the primary weapon system needs to be adjusted, including equipment for landing,” he said. Training and strategy need to be adapted, he added, particularly for airborne and amphibious units.

Existing installations also need to be overhauled to make them resilient to climate impacts, Fahmi said.

“The need to upgrade current military installations in order to prepare for prospective weather issues, to relocate military sites that are vulnerable, and assess the building and procurement strategy is the closest impact of the changing weather patterns,” he said.


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