Juggling Jakarta: Urban Challenges and Solutions


Jakarta’s planning efforts gained a new momentum when the city joined the 100 Resilient Cities network in 2016. With the assistance of this network, Jakarta is now working to strengthen its resilience through the development of a City Resilience Strategy, which addresses issues within Jakarta; and a Grand Design, which is a collaborative multi-sectoral and multi-region plan. In this lecture, Deputy Governor of Jakarta Pak Oswar will share how his city has transformed over the years as well as their efforts in strengthening the city’s social resilience against urban challenges and natural disasters.


Lecture Report

“When we introduced the Grand Design (strategies), we never thought about staff and (political leadership) changes. I (have) worked with four governors (since), but the process of the Grand Design is still there. (Because) the Grand Design bonded us, once we finalised it, the idea is there, the soul is there—it doesn’t matter who replaces who, the idea is there and it helps us understand how to deal with problems.

“If you’re a candidate (for political leadership), you can read the Grand Design and get ideas from it. The ideas are legitimate, because this is all coming from the stakeholders. This is the resilience of the idea.” – Oswar Muadzin Mungkasa

Despite the many urban solutions available today, cities still struggle to implement them because of fragmented governance. To overcome the piecemeal approach to tackling urban issues, Jakarta has come up with a “Grand Design” strategy.

This collaborative approach places the urban issue at the forefront of planning instead of how it is traditionally divided amongst a city’s different public agencies. As the roles and responsibilities of the agencies are siloed, urban solutions are often implemented unevenly and can range from giving too much attention to an issue to not enough support for it. This is particularly so in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, which is both a metropolitan area and a city.

“Let’s say we’re talking about the rivers in Jakarta. (That involves) the central government, the water agency, the public works agency, and sometimes they don’t talk to each other. That’s working in silos—there’s no coordination, they work separately and (produce) solutions that are not comprehensive,” explained Jakarta’s Deputy Governor for Spatial Planning and Government Oswar Muadzin Mungkasa during his CLC lecture in March.

“So when we’re talking about Grand Design, we’re talking about the issue. What is the issue? What (are) the (causes) of the issue? What would be the solution? And then who is going to do the solution?”

By getting the agencies from the different sectors to come together from the beginning, the Grand Design allows them to first figure out a common direction and solution before deciding what role they can play to achieve it. Currently, Jakarta has come up with Grand Designs for issues ranging from green building practices to a child-friendly city and waste management. But instead of offering technical solutions, a Grand Design is about coming up with a commitment and consensus on visions, missions and targets. For instance, Jakarta aims to cover 30% of the city with urban farming and the government has brought together the different stakeholders to come to a consensus on how best to fulfil this target.

“We need to work together with the private sector, the community so that we can solve our problems efficiently and effectively. And when we’re talking about social cohesion, we’re talking about fairness, equity and dialogue,” he said. “Now, we’re trying to make Jakarta a city where the government is the collaborator and the people are co-creators.”

During the post-lecture dialogue, moderator Dr Johannes Widodo likened the Grand Design approach to the Indonesian concept of musyawarah untuk mufakat, or “deliberation to reach consensus”. Responding to Pak Oswar’s explanation on how Jakarta took six months to ensure there was consensus on the issue of green building before coming up with a roadmap, Dr Widodo said, “[T]o build harmonious decision-making process regardless the time it takes. That is more important than the outcome itself.”

Besides the Grand Design approach, Pak Oswar also outlined the city’s efforts in ensuring community readiness in fires and other emergencies, solving water scarcity and the connected problem of land subsidence, and waste management at the local level. These are all part of Jakarta’s City Resilience Strategy, which was created when it joined the 100 Resilient Cities network in 2016. It consists of three pillars: the readiness of the city’s people, government and systems, the importance of water and waste management in public health, as well as the city’s connectivity. Underpinning them are the two pillars of good public governance and social cohesion, said Pak Oswar.

“Every city in the world knows how to solve urban problems. But when we’re talking about fragmented governance and working in silos, not many cities know how to deal with these problems,” he added. “For me, solving governance issues is much more important than the urban issues.”

This report first appeared in the May 2019 Better Cities newsletter.



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