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8 Things to Know about Nusantara’s Net-Zero Strategy

Date Published
January 26, 2024

A rendering of Nusantara. Courtesy of the Nusantara National Capital Authority.

While aiming to get its new capital in East Kalimantan up and running later this year, Indonesia is also bent on making sure Nusantara will be carbon neutral by 2045. Amid global talks to move away from fossil fuels during the COP28 climate talks in Dubai in December, Indonesian authorities launched the Nusantara Net-Zero Strategy, the roadmap to achieve the goal. The capital is the first city in Indonesia to have such a roadmap.

1. The plan goes beyond net zero.

While committing for the new capital to be net zero by 2045, authorities have also set a loftier goal—to make Nusantara a carbon-negative capital city. Under one of the scenarios outlined in the plan, Nusantara aims to reduce emissions even further to -1.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2) by 2045. The “enhanced scenario” targets more ambitious mitigation commitments and may be achieved with additional national and international assistance.

The government has committed to fund about 20% of the city’s cost and is now seeking investments to cover the remaining 80%. It is looking at investments from domestic and foreign private investors, banks, market-based public financing such as debt securities, multilateral and bilateral funding, domestic and foreign philanthropy, climate-specific finance, and ecosystem service markets such as domestic and international carbon markets.

2. Forest restoration is key.

The new capital is envisioned to be a “city in the forest with a forest in the city,” a concept anchored on the plan to set aside 200,000 hectares, or 65% of the area, for natural forest and marine reserves, including green (terrestrial) and blue (aquatic) corridors to enhance biodiversity and ecological connectivity. The government envisions Nusantara as a forest city since Kalimantan is part of what is known as the Heart of Borneo—rainforests that serve as the “lungs of the earth.”

Under the plan, only 56,000 hectares will be developed as built-up urban areas with green space.

The plan also entails reversing deforestation in favor or reforestation, which the roadmap said is the most cost-effective and strategic sector in reducing emissions in the new capital. It also calls for protecting about 59,000 hectares of natural forests and mangroves that still exist, restoring more than 83,000 hectares of remaining industrial forests as well as deforested land and coal mining states, and providing livelihood opportunities for communities through the management and use of forests and mangroves.

3. Nusantara wants be a 10-minute city.

The 10-minute city is an urban planning concept that ensures city residents would be within a short walk, bike or transit ride to key destinations—whether work, school, grocery, or recreation—from their homes. The concept is seen as an emerging net-zero solution because of its potential to reduce greenhouse gases as cities account for more than 60% of emissions.

Alongside adopting the concept, Nusantara aims to have 80% of motorized mobility served by public transport. This aligns with government’s commitment to develop the capital as a smart city, which puts people first, while deploying technology to improve public services.

4. The city aims to be a no-go zone for fossil fuels.

Nusantara will start work this year on its goal to move away from fossil fuels by building a 50-megawatt solar plant. Under the plan, renewable energy will meet its needs for energy, electricity, and transport. This entails electric vehicles providing 100% of the the capital’s transport needs starting 2030. 
 With the shift to renewable power, the energy sector’s emissions will peak in 2028 and be reduced to zero by 2030 and remain zero until 2045. From around 95 MtCO2 in 2024, power sector emissions will peak at around 600 MtCO2 by 2028 and then fall to zero by 2030 when energy needs can be met entirely by renewable sources.

5. A circular economy approach is essential.

Authorities have committed to adopting a comprehensive waste management, using the reduce, reuse, recycle (3R) system, with a circular economy approach, which promotes responsible consumption and production practices.

The plan calls for 60% recovery and recycling of waste, while the remaining 40% will be processed into energy (waste to energy) and/or products (waste to product), with 10%-12% non-recoverable residues going to a landfill.

6. Regenerative agriculture is the way to go.

Regenerative agriculture practices, particularly agroforestry, permaculture, urban farming, and tree crop farming, will enable Nusantara to sequester carbon emissions. Farmers will need support to transition to regenerative agriculture farming systems. Priority will be given to investing in tree crops that will help address the food security needs of the 2 million people in the capital and improve household income.

Under the plan, all agriculture waste will be converted into biochar and used to improve soil fertility and store carbon. Agriculture waste includes poultry and livestock manure, crop residues, and other agriculture waste products. Centrally located biochar facilities can be developed through public–private partnership arrangements with farming communities.

Irrigated rice and aquaculture are projected to be the main sectors emitting greenhouse gases in the agriculture sector, even if carbon emission-reducing technologies are adopted. As such, no irrigated rice or aquaculture can be developed within the boundaries of Nusantara for the sector to have zero greenhouse gas emissions. Solar water pumps will instead be used for irrigation.

7. The new capital strives to be climate-resilient and nature-positive.

Climate change poses increasing risks to people’s lives and will contribute to ecosystem degradation in Nusantara and the surrounding region. As such, the city aims to be climate-resilient. Increasing forest cover will improve water catchment capacity and water security for Nusantara and reduce climate-related flood risks. Nature-based solutions will also be deployed in water management and reduce risk from floods and droughts. Adaptation efforts are expected to encourage residents to survive, adapt, and transform toward a climate-resilient city.

Authorities have also committed to be nature-positive by protecting the city’s rich biodiversity. The capital has 10,000 to 15,000 species of flowering plants, 3,000 species of trees, 2,000 orchids, 1,000 ferns, and 25 species of mammals, including the Bornean orangutan, proboscis monkey, and the Irrawaddy dolphin. Apart from reforestation, Nusantara aims to rehabilitate, conserve, and protect biodiversity in terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Forest areas will also be linked by wildlife corridors ensuring ecological connectivity and strengthening biodiversity. Indigenous and local communities will also be involved in reforestation and forest stewardship to ensure forests are safeguarded and maintained.

8. It aims to be both livable and lovable.

When it becomes a fully functional city, Nusantara will not only be a livable city, but also lovable, entailing a just transition as the city moves away from the resource-based economy model. Authorities committed to facilitate transition and reorientation of the local economy given that East Kalimantan is among the largest coal- and gas-producing provinces in Indonesia. The shift to renewables will develop the ecosystem for renewable energy production for both domestic and export markets, in turn, provide jobs for the affected sectors. Nusantara will also develop other high-value-added industries. Authorities also committed to minimize the relocation of communities as development and construction of needed infrastructure get underway.