From risk to resilience: Assessing climate-change vulnerabilities in Semarang, Indonesia

This abstract has open access
Abstract Summary
A number of cities, especially in the developing world, have been largely exposed to multiple hazards such as coastal erosion, sea-level rise, landslides, land subsidence, and flooding. Evidence indicates that climate-related hazards can significantly damage urban infrastructures, deteriorate the quality of public health, and lead to the loss of people life. Such risks are predicted to continue partly because human-made activities that lead to problems like carbon emissions, sea reclamation, deforestation, land-use change, and urbanization. As a coastal city, Semarang has developed as one of the growing cities in South East Asia. Over the past few decades, the administrative area of Semarang has expanded, along with the increase of its population size, manufacturing, and housing industries. However, as a coastal city, Semarang is very vulnerable to climate-related hazards such as flooding, sea-level rise, land subsidence, storm, and landslides. The analyses of the study were based on a critical review of policy documents, technical papers, and sources from local and national newspapers. To strengthen the results of the analysis, a set of face-to-face interviews were conducted among government officials (12 respondents), scholars (4), activists (3), and private-sector individuals (3). A number of interviews were conducted in spring 2013 and autumn 2015. The respondents were selected based on the snowball method, meaning that the first groups of the respondent can suggest the next potential respondents that may provide relevant information about the context of this study. Along with the interview process, several field observations were done to understand the nature of urban challenges in Semarang between 2013 and 2015. This study demonstrates a great urgency of local human resources to create improvements in knowledge, accountability, and competency, to enhance Semarang to be more resilient to climate change. There is a classic problem concerning fragmented policies between different layers of governance institutions. The future challenge of Semarang is about how policymakers should involve greater collaboration with multi-sectoral partnership across agencies on seeking effective efforts to deal with climate change. This partnership would provide an interdisciplinary perspective to achieve coherent and appropriate breakthroughs to better capture the current and future climate risks. The other crucial issue for assessing urban resilience in Semarang is the lack of reliable data, especially related to information that can be accessed online. For example, no online information about seawater level, groundwater level, rainfall, weather flow, and geographic information system about climate-related risks. The local government may need to design a set of risk indicators to highlight the ongoing condition of climate-change vulnerabilities. Important information like socio-economic and environmental vulnerability indexes can be also part of the indicators. Currently, the assessment of the vulnerability index is limited, mainly income level, poverty index, and the number of people living in slums. This study recommends future analysis with a more comprehensive picture of socio-economic-environmental dimension. Since the lack of knowledge and awareness with climate change vulnerabilities, we recommend that policymakers should enhance public knowledge about climate challenge concept and application. Policymakers should target the proper segments for the campaign; consider effective ways to deliver the messages to the public, and to create long-term coordination across institutions in Semarang as well as between Semarang City and Central Java Province.
Abstract ID :
ISO533
Submission Type
Associate Professor
,
University of Stavanger
Assistant Professor
,
Institute of Technology Bandung

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