The Indonesian city of Pontianak is hosting the 25th BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting and related meetings from 23 to 26 November this year.
In the past 2 years, meetings of the subregion were held virtually, including the 14th BIMP-EAGA Summit in October 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An interesting trivia about West Kalimantan’s capital is that it is the only city in the world that sits on the equator.
1. Strategic location
But what makes Pontianak a key city in BIMP-EAGA is its strategic location in the West Borneo Economic Corridor, the subregion’s oil and gas corridor.
Pontianak is a gateway to regional and international markets. It is a commercial and transport hub accessible by air (via Supaido International Airport), sea, and land.
Flights from Jakarta and other major destinations in Indonesia are available every day. The city is served by the Port of Dwikora at the edge of Kapuas, the country’s longest river. Daily bus services are available to take travelers to and from the city through the Pontianak–Entikong–Kuching–Brunei Darussalam route.
Transport services in the subregion were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but many have resumed with the reopening of borders.
2. Green city ambitions
Pontianak aspires to become a green city in a biodiversity-rich province. West Kalimantan is part of the Heart of Borneo, which comprises about 22 million hectares of rain forests.
As one of four pilot cities in Indonesia under a program of the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) for Climate and Energy, the city is developing climate action plans and building capacity for climate adaption and mitigation.
There are also plans for Pontianak to join the BIMP-EAGA Green Cities Initiative, which builds smart, green, and livable cities. The program enhances the capacity of city officials on integrated planning and management of urban infrastructure and helps develop Green City Action Plans (GCAPs).
With the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), two cities in the subregion, Kendari in Indonesia and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, have already developed their GCAPs.
3. A smart city
Pontianak is part of Indonesia’s 100 Smart Cities initiative, which promotes Smart People, Smart Economy, Smart Environment, Smart Government, Smart Living, and Smart Mobility.
For the past years, the city has embraced technology-driven solutions to improve the delivery of public services and address environmental problems. The city government operates a Smart City Service Portal and Pontianak City Electronic-Based Government System and has launched the Gencil mobile app, which provides a variety of public services.
Pontianak works with the private sector in developing digital tools and encourages tech startups to develop solutions for urban problems, such as pollution and waste management. For example, SIPPohon is an application that tracks air pollution and involves neighborhoods in monitoring trees, which the haze-stricken city sorely needs for carbon offset. Angkuts, which means “transport,” is a mobile app that connects waste producers, (e.g., households, restaurants) with garbage collectors and enables them both to earn through garbage transportation fees and sales to composters and recyclers.
The city is also promoting the transition to a digital economy through fintech solutions. It launched GencilPay, which enables online payments and monitors prices of groceries.
These smart city initiatives have won for Pontianak several awards, including from the Rating Kota Cerdas Indonesia of the Bandung Institute of Technology.