Jakarta – Severe air pollutions, seismic threats, and perennial floodings have put Indonesia's capital Jakarta at the top of a list of cities threatened by environmental risks, according to the latest report published by a global risks research company Verisk Maplecroft on Wednesday.
The study evaluated the world's 576 largest urban centers and rank them based on their exposure to environmental hazards, serving as an alert for companies operating in these cities to improve their resiliency.
"Our data reveals Jakarta is the riskiest city, but across the globe, 414 cities – with over 1.4 billion inhabitants – are deemed to be at high or extreme risk from a combination of pollution, dwindling water supplies, extreme heat stress, natural hazards, and vulnerability to climate change," Will Nichols, Verisk Maplecroft's head of the environment and climate change research, said in a statement on the company website.
Verisk Maplecroft noted Jakarta as Jakarta is plagued by air pollution from its congested traffic daily. The city also faces perennial threats from seismic activity and flooding.
Real-time data collected by IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company, showed Jakarta the 11th most polluted city in the world on Friday, below Kolkata in India and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. IQAir also estimated that air pollution could cause 4,000 premature deaths in Jakarta and incur a $1-billion cost from lost productivity due to early deaths or illness this year.
According to a 2018 study published in the Swiss scientific journal Geosciences, Jakarta sits on a basin filled with soft alluvial soil that would amplify shocks during earthquakes that are likely coming from nearby active tectonic faults Cimandiri, Lembang, and Baribis Faults.
Jakarta's perennial flooding is also well documented. The city was situated downstream of several major Java rivers, including Ciliwung and Cipinang, that bring volumes of water from the hinterland during the rainy season. Decades of groundwater usage have caused significant land subsidence in the capital, with parts of its northern area under sea level.
In February, floods following a heavy downpour overnight displaced 1,380 people from their homes in Jakarta, but no one lost their lives in the disaster.
Verisk Maplecroft warned that problems faced by Jakarta were also apparent in many other major cities, mainly in Asia, which account for 99 of the world's 100 riskiest cities in the company's list.
"With rising emissions driving weather-related risk and populations growing in many cities across the developing world, the risks to citizens, real assets, and commercial operations are only going to rise," Nichols said.
Top 10 cities with highest exposure to environmental hazards
Rank, City, Country
1. Jakarta - Indonesia
2. Dehli - India
3. Chennai - India
4. Surabaya - Indonesia
5. Chandigarh - India
6. Agra - India
7. Meerut - India
8. Bandung- Indonesia
9. Aligarh - India
10. Kanpur - India
– Verisk Maplecroft Global Risk Analytics