Leapfrogging towards water sensitive cities: The Australia-Indonesia Centre Urban Water Cluster

How can cities grow and thrive in an era of climate change? This is a challenge faced by both Australia and Indonesia. With ever-increasing population shifts towards urban environments, it is crucial to make cities sustainable.

Australian cities are adopting water sensitive approaches. Melbourne Water, for example, has created over 10,000 raingardens. But progress is slow, in part because of the existing massive traditional water infrastructure.

Indonesian cities have an opportunity to leapfrog certain stages in building core urban water infrastructure. For example, rather than investing only in a centralised sewerage system, such as those of Melbourne and Sydney, Indonesian cities can implement treatment and recycling systems that also integrate decentralised infrastructures at the neighbourhood scale, increasing their efficiency and cost-effectiveness and accelerating the path to water sensitive cities.

In this way, developing Indonesian cities would avoid repeating the mistakes that Westernised cities made, through being technologically and institutionally locked into less resilient and less sustainable water management solutions.

The Australia-Indonesia Centre’s Urban Water Cluster imagines cities in which the water cycle is managed to protect and enhance the health of waterways, mitigate flood risk, and create public spaces that harvest, clean, and recycle water. Integrated water management will support biodiversity, public green space, healthy waterways, connected communities, and cultural significance. Ultimately, these cities will use water sensitive planning and design to create connected, vibrant and liveable communities.

The Cluster’s core activities will focus on Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya, as well as Bogor, a sub-city of Greater Jakarta. Associated activities will translate the Cluster’s findings for cities in northern Australia and for other Indonesian islands.

Read more about the Cluster at: australiaindonesiacentre.org/clusters/urban-water