Reconciling Economic and Imperatives in Batam
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 February 2019
Batam's economic growth has been nothing short of spectacular. In the 1990s, it experienced an investment boom fuelled by investments from Singapore. This lasted for two decades and transformed the economy and landscape of what was an outpost into a place with a major industrial city of over 1 million inhabitants.
This impressive pace of development has often been accompanied by a marked degradation of the natural environment. Mangrove areas have rapidly disappeared, floods have occurred around the city because of erosion caused by land clearing; illegal squatter settlements have intruded into protected forests, and toxic substances from the offshore cleaning of ships have affected the quality of Batam's coastal waters.
But all is not lost. Economic and environmental imperatives can be reconciled if Batam's development trajectory takes into account the impact of economic growth on the environment. Sustainable development is not impossible.
Negative environmental impacts have to be controlled by regulations and by proper enforcement. The institutional framework (regulations and property rights) plays a central role to ensure that negative environmental impacts are accounted for and minimized. Problems generally arise from either an absence of regulations or property rights to regulate the environment or from the absence or lack of enforcement by the relevant authorities.
The Riau Islands Province (PRI) is made up of five rural regencies (kabupaten) and two cities or urban municipalities (kota). Batam and Tanjung Pinang are the two cities within PRI, while Bintan, Karimun, Lingga, Anambas and Natuna form the five regencies. Batam Island's land area totals 415 km2 (41,500 hectares).
This paper will examine the various manifestations and causes of environmental degradation against the backdrop of economic transformation, population growth and enforcement (or lack thereof). It also provides a comprehensive update where possible of the present state of environmental affairs in the municipality, and the challenges involved in maintaining the carrying capacity of the environment to cope with development.
Following a discussion of the methodology used in this study, the next section will examine the impact of government policies on economic transformation, and of migration on population growth. Regulations and enforcement measures are then discussed in general, followed by an examination of Batam's environmental management challenges across many fronts.
- Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak InstitutePrint publication year: 2018