Promoting sustainable cities in Indonesia

To be environmentally sustainable, a city needs to have strong programs in certain areas. The areas are not limited to infrastructures, urban financial and urban management. The three aspects affect each other, so, they are integrated and correlated. In fact, environment urban condition in Indonesia is generally far behind needs of an appropriate city. First area is infrastructures for urban environment. To be sustainable a city has to have urban environmental facilities such as urban wastewater system, water supply system, solid waste management, air quality management and other facilities. Failure to provide such facilities leads to poor urban environment. To ensure a sustainable city, such facilities should be available for all citizens. However, the facilities will not be available when the second area below is not in place. 

The second area is environmental finance and cost. It will be very difficult to provide appropriate environmental service to the people when money is not available. It understood that environmental infrastructures development needs huge investment. There are number of urban environmental components which need a lot of investment. Take a look urban wastewater for example; almost all cities in Indonesia do not have appropriate wastewater facilities. Most cities have very simple systems to treat small part of wastewater generated.  Large part of wastewater is not even treated at all. Major reason of unavailability of wastewater facilities is due to lack of money. When a city has to provide wastewater service to the people, there should be huge investment to construct such facilities. Therefore, it is very essential to improve urban revenue as source for environmental investment.

Generally, urban revenue coming from urban tax and levies. In Indonesia components of urban tax and levies have been decided by Law. There is no more room for cities to apply new tax in a city.  Cities can explore its capacity within the tax system to obtain money as much as possible. Cities have to work hard to generate their incomes. Citizen and tax payers general think that city has a lot of money so, the city administration can pay all urban expenses and projects. In fact, most of cities in Indonesia do not have sufficient income to pay the expenses. In the other hand, tax payers keep asking to reduce tax and levies. Therefore, urban financial is a tricky business, because the city income should be increasing while tax is asked to be less.

The third area is urban management.  No matter how good the infrastructures and how big the money, without an appropriate urban management, service of urban environment will not be adequate. Urban management consists of procedures (regulations), qualified personnel and supporting facilities. Therefore, area of urban management is very large ranging from commitment of personnel to institutional development of a city. Capacity building perhaps is a way to improve urban management. All components of the urban management should be improved continuously. Qualified personnel is an important key in improving urban management.

How can we expect a high quality of urban environment when money is not sufficient to pay urban environmental expenses. In addition, when management capacity is not place, then it is very difficult to have urban environment.

It seems too complicated to keep a city be sustainable.  Is it true??


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