The Jakarta Post
Around 800 experts, government officials, thinkers, CEOs and organization members from around the world gathered in Jakarta at the New Cities Summit starting on Tuesday to share experiences, inspiration and solutions concerning urban development.
John Rossant, chairman of the New Cities Foundation, the organizer of the event, said during the opening ceremony on Tuesday that the three-day summit aimed to gather cross-sector stakeholders to discuss urban challenges faced by cities around the world.
Rossant said most cities worldwide faced the same issues, ranging from water to traffic and housing.
'However, it also has amazing dynamism and creativity,' he said.
Regarding the choice of Jakarta, Rossant emphasized that Jakarta was the fourth host of the summit after Paris, Sao Paulo and Dallas because the city had developed into one of Asia's most prominent metropolitan centers.
Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, who opened the ceremony, said he hoped the event could generate breakthrough solutions and innovations to tackle the city's problems. 'I hope that we can share our problems with each other and find solutions,' he said.
Ahok also shared efforts made by the Jakarta administration to solve the city's problems. He cited a program to evict residents from riverbanks as part of flood mitigation efforts, the establishment of professional one-stop integrated services, cash distribution for students from low-income families, the provision of low-cost apartments and using technology to improve services.
The three-day summit is covering a wide range of urban issues like affordable housing, water, urban mobility, exclusivity and new modes of governance, the role of culture and public space, urban economics, infrastructure investment, secondary cities, diversity and resilience.
The experts taking part in the event include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus, Seoul Innovation Department director general Cho In-dong, Cisco's Smart+ Connected Communities president Anil Menon and the executive deputy mayor of Cape Town, Ian Nielson.
The summit is also gathering urban innovators whose inventions and business models have helped many people in urban daily life.
The innovations included GO-JEK, an mobile application for ordering motorcycle taxis in Jakarta; HandUp, a mobile application that connect donors to homeless people; and SokoText, a text-message based ordering service helping small grocery vendors in Nairobi to get cheap and fresh products faster.
The event also gives the opportunity to young Indonesian innovators to participate in the Jakarta Urban Challenge, to find new, homegrown solutions for Jakarta's mobility and pollution problems.
One of the sessions at the summit discussed efforts to provide affordable housing on a large scale.
Vishnu Swaminanthan, the country director of Ashoka, a network of social entrepreneurs which provides professional support services, said that one of the most common problems in housing was participative efforts.
'We cannot see these low-income people as big chunk of a group who need a big chunk of houses,' he said, adding that every customer had their own needs and aspirations.