Urban Water Management: Huge challenges, tremendous opportunities for Indonesia

19 Feb 2014 - 09:09
Bron: KuiperCompagnons / Great Garuda


Over 50% of the world population lives in cities. Due to climate change, urbanisation, subsidence, and the rise of the sea-level, more than two thirds of the world's largest cities are exposed to the risk of extreme floods and storms.

The protection of people and cities against floods as well as droughts is one of the main challenges governments are currently facing. Whether we take the case study of New York, New Orleans, Jakarta, Rotterdam, London or Tokyo, all delta cities will have to invest in their water management to make sure they are well protected against future floods.

Jakarta faces floods yearly; even during the first two months of 2014, over 30,000 Indonesians fled their homes in the capital city, due to floods. The city is prone to subsidence: the city ‘sinks’ at an incredible speed of about 20 cm per year.

Dutch water management

Currently, a group of 22 Indonesian Junior Diplomats is participating in an 8-week training course at the Clingendael Academy. As urban water management is of such importance to the future of Jakarta, this group of diplomats spoke to representatives of the Dutch government, as well as representatives of Deltares (independent Dutch institute of applied knowledge) and Arcadis (Dutch engineering company) about the challenges Jakarta and other delta cities around the world are facing. These policymakers and engineers shared the knowledge and experiences they gained on flood protection, working in the Netherlands, the United States, Africa and South-East Asia.

All involved

Urban Water Management is not only about engineering: it is about politics, financing, social programmes, urban planning, architecture, coastal environment and the ecology of an urban area. All stakeholders, including the local population and the private sector, should be involved to make urban water management projects a success. This provides huge challenges, but also tremendous opportunities for Jakarta. The government needs to invest in flood protection and land reclamation projects, but these projects can create added value when the private sector gets involved.

Great Garuda project

The Indonesian junior diplomats spoke about the opportunity of creating a giant sea wall of new islands (the Great Garuda project), to create a storm surge barrier to protect Jakarta from damage caused by future floods, but also create new roads, business areas and touristic beaches and parks, which will create economic value and a fast return on investment.

To show some successful flood protection and land reclamation projects of the Netherlands, the group of Indonesian junior diplomats visited the Beemsterpolder, the city of Hoorn and the Flevopolder, together with a guide of UNESCO-IHE. This excursion provided some examples of the great opportunities which land reclamation can provide: adding new fertile land to a country on which whole new cities can be build.

The Clingendael Institute cooperates closely with UNESCO-IHE, and together developed a training programme on: Negotiation and Mediation for Water Conflict Management, held from 18 till 21 February 2014 at the Clingendael Institute. For more information about training on water diplomacy please contact Mariska Heijs.