Indonesian President Widodo’s Address at the 10th World Water Forum

ora beach views in seram island

President Widodo emphasized collaboration, equality, and peace as essential for addressing water challenges and promoting inclusive water management practices. (Credit: David Leiter,

by | May 23, 2024

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Indonesia, a nation abundant in natural resources, harnesses its water potential to drive development and ensure sustainable growth. President Joko Widodo’s address at the 10th World Water Forum in Nusa Dua, Bali, underscored the nation’s commitment to bolstering domestic water infrastructure and harnessing the transformative power of water resources.

Over the past decade, Indonesia has embarked on an ambitious journey to fortify its water infrastructure with significant investments in dam construction, irrigation networks, and flood control measures. President Widodo proudly highlighted these achievements during his speech, citing the completion of 42 dams, the expansion of irrigation networks covering just under 3 million acres, and the implementation of flood control and coastal protection measures spanning 1340 miles.

One notable milestone in Indonesia’s water journey is developing the floating solar power plant in the Cirata Reservoir, West Java. President Widodo hailed this project as Southeast Asia’s largest floating solar power plant, demonstrating Indonesia’s innovative approach to harnessing water resources for renewable energy production.

Challenges in Water Management

However, President Widodo highlighted the challenges of water scarcity and the urgent need for collective action to address these issues. Citing World Bank research indicating potential economic growth slowdowns due to water shortages, President Widodo stressed the importance of integrated water resources management in mitigating these risks. He emphasized the forum’s strategic importance in fostering stakeholder collaboration to tackle water challenges and promote sustainable water management practices.

Access to clean water remains a critical challenge in many Indonesian communities, with residents resorting to rainwater and brackish healthy water due to inadequate supply. This lack of clean water contributes to prevalent fecal-borne illnesses, particularly affecting young children. However, significant strides have been made in improving water facilities nationwide, with approximately 23,000 villages benefiting from these efforts, positively impacting over 17 million people. Sustainable improvements are sustained through community action plans, ensuring the longevity of these vital resources.

Despite progress, water pollution and poor sanitation are pressing issues across Indonesia. The majority of the population is exposed to contaminated water sources, and only 12% of the population has access to safe water, highlighting the urgency of addressing these concerns. The World Bank’s report warns that such pollution and sanitation deficiencies contribute to high child stunting rates, potentially impacting Indonesia’s GDP significantly by 2045.

Geographical disparities further compound Indonesia’s water challenges, with regions like Java, Bali, and East Nusa Tenggara experiencing water stress. At the same time, Papua, Kalimantan, and Sumatra struggle with access to essential Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services. This disparity underscores the need for targeted interventions and equitable distribution of resources to address the multifaceted water-related issues facing Indonesia’s diverse landscapes. Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, is sinking upwards of 11 inches a year. This fact has prompted the Indonesian government to move the capital city to Borneo in August of 2024.

Water for Shared Prosperity

The cultural significance of water was also a focal point of President Widodo’s address, particularly exemplified by Bali’s Subak irrigation system. Dating back to the 11th century and recognized as a world cultural heritage, the Subak system reflects Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage and the deep-rooted connection between water and society. President Widodo highlighted the importance of preserving local wisdom in water management, underscoring the need to integrate traditional knowledge with modern water management practices.

In line with the forum’s theme, “Water for Shared Prosperity,” President Widodo emphasized collaboration, equality, and peace as essential for addressing water challenges and promoting inclusive water management practices. He called for the active involvement of all stakeholders, including the younger generation, in safeguarding water resources for future generations.

Addressing these issues aligns with Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which aims for clean water and sanitation for all. For Indonesia to achieve its economic and developmental goals, water security must be a top priority.

Photo Credit: David Leiter

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