Batam is one of Indonesia’s wonder boys. Following development planning, its staggering numbers include a GDP growth averaging 10% over the last decade and a population growth from 6000 in 1973, to 150.000 in 2000, to 1.300.000 in 2014. Now, Batam’s further development needs to overcome multiple legal and institutional barriers. ¨The Batam Learning & Action Alliance (LAA) has the potential to contribute to just that, based on a unique multi-stakeholder approach¨, says Dr. Sebastiaan van Herk.
Batam has a high ambition to green the city, to reconcile its growth with increased liveability. Planning is very advanced in many areas such as transportation, environmental management, and housing. Not everything goes according to plan. Pedestrian and bicycle routes have been planned for, but are not yet implemented. Green areas often compete with housing and other development needs. 30% of the surface area needs to be green, but Batam’s forests are being occupied by illegal settlements. The city ‘hosts’ 40.000 squatters. The Central Business District of Nygoya and Jodoh experience problems with flooding as its drainage system is no longer up to date. And these districts can do with more green, or ‘be beautified’ according to locals.
Under the Asian Development Bank Green Cities programme, UNESCO-IHE and Bax&Willems are supporting Batam through the ‘MARE Asia’ project. It applies the successful Learning & Action Alliance (LAA) approach from MARE Europe and connects existing networks, such as the Forum Group Green City. The desired contribution varies per geographical area (Centre, water reservoirs, forests) and policy domain. Advanced plans need policy support from other (national) government agencies to overcome hurdles. Contrary, planning is in an inception phase for the Central area. Many opportunities for the LAA.