Most Influential Projects 2020

49 Capital City Relocation Plans

Urban Development | Asia Pacific

For plotting out a new political nerve center of Indonesia—a smarter and greener one

Indonesia needs a new capital. The current one, Jakarta, is overcrowded and under siege from rising sea levels. Now President Joko Widodo is looking to move on, declaring last year that Indonesia would build a new futuristic capital 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away. The uber ambitious US$33 billion project would relocate the political center of the world’s third-largest democracy—along with nearly 1 million civil servants—to Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. Done right, the plan would save Jakarta from hitting its breaking point, while spurring economic opportunities for an underdeveloped part of the country.

“The location is very strategic—it’s in the center of Indonesia and close to urban areas,” the president said in a televised speech. “The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade and services.”

And the burden on the city will only get heavier. Its population is expected to hit 12.7 million people by 2030. And it’s one of the fastest sinking cities in the world—dropping by 1 to 15 centimeters (0.4 to 6 inches) per year. At this rate, 95 percent of North Jakarta will be underwater by 2050.

But the new capital isn’t just an escape hatch. The goal is to create a sustainable tech-forward city that can stimulate growth in the surrounding region and across the country. In January the government announced that a plan submitted by Urban+ will become the primary inspiration for the new city’s design, with ideas from other submissions incorporated: a smart city driven by artificial intelligence, with infrastructure built for electric vehicles, next-gen monorails and drone taxis.

The cutting-edge vision has attracted outside investors, including a pledge of up to US$40 billion from Japan’s SoftBank. For now, relocation is slated to start in 2024, with the as-yet-unnamed capital city fully functioning by 2045.

Related Sponsors and Organizations

  • Government of Indonesia
  • Softbank
  • Urban+